The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences encourages its member associations, institutions and affiliates to read, discuss, support and promote the Charter.
The development of this Charter on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization in the Social Sciences and Humanities was led by Dr. Malinda S. Smith with Dr. Noreen Golfman (Memorial University) on behalf of the Congress Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization: Dr. Marie Battiste, OC (University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Wesley Crichlow (Ontario Technology University), Dr. Jay Dolmage (University of Waterloo), Dr. Florence Glanfield (University of Alberta), Dr. Claudia Malacrida (University of Lethbridge), and Dr. Anne-José Villeneuve (University of Alberta). The committee was supported in its work by Dr. Gina Hill Birriel, Manager, Program and Policy for the Federation.
Charter on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization in the Social Sciences and Humanities
The purpose of this Charter is to achieve equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization in the social sciences and humanities in Canada. Systemic inequities within our disciplines, scholarly associations, and institutions of higher education have a negative impact on the education and career trajectories of individuals from underrepresented and marginalized communities. This commitment is a recognition of the need for action plans to address all forms of discrimination, bigotry, prejudice, and injustice, including, but not limited to, those rooted in racism, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism. This Charter calls for urgent action by university and college students, faculty, staff and alumni, scholarly associations, civil society associations, and research funding bodies across Canada to identify and address the specific obstacles that have negative impacts on the career trajectories and lived experiences of individuals from diverse communities, including, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, members of visible minority/racialized minority communities, persons with disabilities, members of LGBTQ2S+ communities, as well as linguistic, religious, and cultural communities.
Accessibility is a foundational principle for the removal of barriers that limit the equitable access to participation and experiences necessary for careers by people with visual, motor, auditory, learning, and cognitive disabilities. Access is enabled by providing resources and tools necessary for the elimination of obstacles, biases, and stereotypes that impede opportunity, admission to, and success in the postsecondary education sector for persons with disabilities and deaf people, as for all historically underrepresented groups. Accessibility also recognizes that low socio-economic income can be an obstacle to university and college attendance.
Diversity is a characteristic of human societies that has been used in multiple ways across the postsecondary education sector. It includes the whole range of human, cultural, and societal differences among populations across Canada. Diversity encompasses identity difference, and the representation of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and senior leadership in the academy. Social diversity also includes the protected grounds under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Aboriginal and Treaty rights, and human rights legislation, such as race/ethnicity, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, and disability. Diversity is also used to differentiate types of knowledge production, educational institutions and units within institutions, such as faculties, schools, departments, programs, and institutes. Diversity also encompasses the nature and content of curricula, research, teaching, service and engagement.
The principles, processes, and practices of decolonization are fundamental to a more equitable, diverse, enlightened, and inclusive social sciences and humanities community in Canada. We believe the sustainable future of higher education requires confronting and unsettling the impact of colonial histories, ideologies, experiences, and legacies on disciplines, archives, canons, curricula, methodologies, and pedagogies, as well as on structures of governance, institutional design, and cultures, symbols, and ceremonies. Decolonization is a necessary and ongoing process of unlearning, uncovering, and transforming legacies of colonialism, as well as utilizing the educational and knowledge systems available to relearn and rebuild the social, cultural, and linguistic foundations that were lost, or eroded through colonialism. Decolonization also requires making space, balancing, generating, and enabling diverse knowledge systems to thrive in the academy as well as in and through educational and knowledge transmitting places for Indigenous Peoples, the formerly colonized or continuing colonized nations, peoples, and cultural knowledge systems.
Equity is concerned with justice and fairness. Equity is a state of being, a process, and a condition that is rooted in fundamental human rights, and, therefore, is not reliant on individual choice or voluntarism. Whereas equality may lead to an assumption of an even playing field, and may shape individual and institutional efforts to treat people the same, equity requires more; it is about understanding and accommodating difference and providing people with what they need to enter and thrive within the academy. Equity requires proactively identifying and combatting discriminatory ideas, attitudes, behaviours, as well as systems, policies, processes, and practices that lead to disadvantage. It is concerned with a legal and ethical commitment to doing what is right and necessary to achieve such a state through proactive measures to identify root causes, and design interventions to remove obstacles to fair opportunities and experiences in all spheres of academic life.
3.5. Inherent Human Dignity
Inherent human dignity is a foundational concept of human rights. Principles, commitments, and actions to transform inequities in structures, processes, policies, and outcomes must be based on the recognition and affirmation of the inherent dignity of all peoples. Without the recognition of the inherent human dignity of all peoples, actions to effect change will fall short.
Inclusion is a skillset and a condition that must be cultivated and that require resources in order to advance an equitable and fairer academy. Inclusion entails interconnected actions to dismantle barriers that impede participation, engagement, representation, and empowerment of members of diverse social identities and from various backgrounds in the life of the academy. Inclusion means that we design our educational and cultural spaces from the beginning so that they can be used fully by all peoples and all communities. Inclusion foregrounds the social and institutional relations of power and privilege, drawing necessary attention to who gets a seat and voice at the decision-making tables, and who is empowered by institutional processes, policies, systems, and structures.
The individual and institutional pursuit of excellence, quality, or merit is best achieved in equitable, diverse, inclusive, and decolonial conditions in which everyone can thrive. While the human pursuit of excellence is an inclusive one, how it is socially and institutionally defined, operationalized, and recognized historically has often been exclusionary of, among other things, diverse ways of knowing, knowledges, methodologies, and perspectives. Recognizing the integral relationship between equity-as-fairness and inclusive excellence is necessary to mitigate how access to, and success within, scholarly associations, universities, and colleges have been shaped by histories of discriminatory ideas, attitudes, processes, and practices. Inclusive excellence affirms how diversity can deepen learning, enhance critical thinking and problem solving, and fuel creativity and innovation in teaching and learning, research and artistic enquiry, professional service, and community engagement in the social sciences and humanities.
- Article 9: We commit to identifying and removing the specific and intersecting barriers and obstacles that impede the equitable representation of women, Indigenous Peoples, visible/racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ2S+ in our scholarly associations, universities, and colleges.
- Articles 13: We commit to equitable practices, and diverse and inclusive leadership, decision making and governance that are necessary for the realization of structural and systemic change.