A new 20-member task force, comprising equal representation of students and staff, is set to create a blueprint for equality, inclusion and diversity for the college.
The effort is in collaboration with the student administrative council.
“Niagara College fully supports inclusion, equity and diversity on all levels, and stands firmly with those fighting racism, inequity and injustice,” college president Sean Kennedy said in a release.
“We recognize the need to work to push society forward, individually and collectively.”
For task force member Ashley Buck, also a member of the school’s Indigenous education team, it is more than that.
“It is important for our Indigenous students to see themselves reflected in our institution,” she said. “It is important that the work we are doing reflect the needs of the diverse student body.
“Historically, educational institutions in Canada were a tool the government would use to colonize First Nations people,” said Buck.
“As First Nations people reclaim space in those institutions, those institutions evolve. This task force is the next step in that evolution.”
The evolution process Buck referenced became apparent to Kennedy as he and the college undertook a self-nomination process.
“It became very clear that there is such a significant interest in these important issues within our college community and a shared desire to ensure that we value and demonstrate equality, diversity and inclusion,” Kennedy said.
“There were so many students and employees who were willing to lend their time and experience to this initiative.”
The group’s work will include research, consultation and the writing of the blueprint that will be presented to the college’s senior leadership in June.
“Their work will be an important input into the college’s next strategic plan, ensuring that it is a part of Niagara College’s long-term vision,” Kennedy said.
Said student administrative council president Tom Price, “It is our resolute desire to provide a welcoming and safe space for all individuals and communities at Niagara College.
He said the task force is “symbolic of our unwavering and combined support for the entire student community, college community and visitors to our campuses.”
“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we continue to work together as a community to strengthen and support each other.”
Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: [email protected]