Dear members of the UBC community.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking to you from the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.
Last week, UBC hosted a National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism. Thousands of people from across Canada and around the world participated in the virtual forum. Many frank and difficult discussions took place.
Over the course of the two-day forum, we heard the devastating impacts of anti-Asian racism on individuals and communities across Canada.
The discovery in Kamloops of 215 Indigenous children who never returned to their own families and communities and the mass murder of a family in London, Ontario because of anti-Muslim hate hung heavily over the discussions.
We heard that the conversation needs to continue and become action, and that we need to come together, all of us, to struggle against this hate and the ongoing structures of Canadian society that allow it to perpetuate. It will be a long struggle, but I want to reaffirm UBC’s commitment to working with all those who choose to come together to act as one.
None of us can take on alone the breadth of the problems that were identified during the forum. We need to work together. I call on those across the country to support the work that needs to be done.
Join us in this difficult task, give of your own experience and knowledge to identify and change what needs to be changed in your own place of work or study, in your own community, in your own home. If you cannot give of your time, please support those who must do this work.
As a university, UBC has a responsibility to work on the areas that we need to improve. The struggle against anti-Asian racism must be done in concert with the work of transforming our university to overcome the ongoing legacies of colonialism upon Indigenous communities and peoples, and the pervasive systemic racism that affects all racialized students, faculty and staff at UBC.
Once again, I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to participate in this much needed forum. I’d also like to thank the forum organizers and volunteers and everyone who contributed to making the forum a success.
Though the forum has ended, our work is just beginning. We will take the results and recommendations arising from the forum to guide our future steps. There will also be a follow-up event focusing on Anti-Asian racism in higher education this Fall.
My unsung hero shout-out this week goes to Greg Ursic, a residence front desk services coordinator on the UBC Vancouver campus. According to the people who work for and with him, Greg has done an outstanding job making staff and students feel safe and supported during the pandemic. Greg, thank you for all you do.
Stay safe and best wishes.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor