Dear members of the Federation,
I'd like to begin by expressing my deepest sympathy and support for the victims of the recent and horrific acts of anti-Asian violence in Atlanta. These brutal racist and misogynistic acts and the recent widespread outbreak of anti-Asian racism are part of longstanding, deeply-rooted and ongoing systemic discrimination against Asians in Canada. We stand in solidarity against anti-Asian racism, with Asian colleagues, students and communities.
There is no doubt Congress 2021 will be a different kind of Congress – not least because it will be virtual.
The past year has been turbulent. But it has forced us to stop, reflect, listen, learn, make space and to act.
We must honour the decision of the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA), and others who have chosen not to attend Congress this year. It is important that we strive to respect and support each other during this challenging time.
Like many others, I plan on taking part in Congress this year, partly because it is a unique opportunity to have timely, national conversations about the scourges of anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian racism.
Congress offers a platform for cross-disciplinary dialogue, learning and collective action. It gives us the opportunity to work together and start making the transformative changes that we need in Congress, the Federation, and ourselves. Together we can create a safer and more welcoming space for members of our community who have been marginalized, excluded, and silenced.
When I first attended the Canadian Sociological Association’s annual conference at Congress, I was a young woman from a working-class, immigrant family who had just started her MA. Being there opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there was a place for me in this unfamiliar but exciting intellectual space.
Before then, I never imagined in a million years I could pursue a doctorate, or that someday I would have the privilege of empowering and mentoring students and junior scholars. Attending my first Congress in Ottawa at the age of 22, and then my second, and then my third… gave me the opportunity to watch and to learn; and to slowly gain the courage to share my ideas as I began to deepen my knowledge and to grow. Now, 30 years later I feel an obligation to do everything I can to make those same opportunities available to others.
For six months, the Congress Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Decolonization has worked independently to critically review, consult and deeply examine how we must change Congress and the Federation, to confront racism and colonialism, and make our events more welcoming, more accessible, and more inclusive. When the Committee’s final report is released in early April, it will be shared with all of you. The Federation will move swiftly to follow up on the Committee’s recommendations in dialogue with our members.
We hope that you will stand up and join us in dialogue and action, on this important path towards transformative change.
Chair, Board of Directors
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences