Between Juneteenth and National Indigenous Peoples Day: A Statement of Commitment from the Ambrose University President

Between Juneteenth and National Indigenous Peoples Day: A Statement of Commitment from the Ambrose University President

This year, Juneteenth and National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, have taken on even greater significance for us. We have all been deeply sobered by the tragic loss of life for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and others in the USA; and of Chantel Moore, Rodney Levi, and others here in Canada. We affirm the remarkable outpouring of support for those who are advocating for a much higher level of intentional engagement around issues of race, ethnicity, and the dignity of each human life. All of this is a reminder to us that we need to be proactive concerning racism: to listen diligently to its victims, examine our hearts and actions for signs of it, and learn what it means to both recognize and work against all forms of systemic racism – that is, patterns of social engagement and law enforcement that are embedded in our society and taken for granted, rather than challenged or changed when they are unjust.

Ambrose University will be an agent of change – empowering faculty, staff, and students to think clearly and act courageously in celebrating diversity, affirming the dignity of each person, and working towards social systems that foster the social and racial justice that is consistent with our Christian faith. We will name anti-black racism and anti-indigenous racism for what it is, and in the process empower visible minorities to be full participants in the life of the church and our society. We will acknowledge where systems, including our own internal systems, reinforce white privilege. We ask for forgiveness, through grace and humility, for the actions of our ancestors and for our present-day failures. We commit ourselves to healing and reconciliation.

To this end, the university is taking a number of initiatives. This is not a comprehensive list of all that we are doing or will be doing. We invite one and all to hold us accountable for at the very least these commitments. This is our shared agenda and set of priorities. I will be keeping this list before those in positions of leadership within our community and I will be providing a full report on each of these items to the Fall meeting of the Board of Governors – a report that will be public, in that it will also be posted on our website. These are the key initiatives:

(1) Faculty will be invited to participate in an on-going forum, led by the Dean of Theology, that will address how the Christian faith engages with important questions of the Canadian public and political life – seeking in particular to foster greater understanding and clarity around matters of race and ethnicity.

(2) All faculty, staff, and student leaders will participate in awareness training on matters of race, ethnicity, and inclusion [led by senior members of our faculty and by our student life division].

(3) Every year we have chapel gatherings that celebrate diversity and the call to social and racial justice; moving into this Fall, we will be intentional on two fronts:   high representation from visible minorities in the speaking roster for chapels and at least two chapels each semester that focus specifically on the story, and the challenges of those who have experienced social and racial injustice.

(4) We will review our hiring practices—including how staff and faculty positions are presented, as well as where they are posted—so as to be sure that qualified candidates of all ethnicities are encouraged to apply and genuinely considered for teaching and leadership appointments to the university.

With God’s help, we will be an inclusive community that celebrates diversity, affirms the dignity of each person, and empowers each student, regardless of race or ethnicity, to work towards church communities and a society that reflects equitable treatment and opportunity for all.