People Plan Invitation For Action Bolsters VIU's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Activities

November 6, 2019 - 2:45pm

In September, VIU announced the institution received a $400,000 grant to address the issues surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion.

A driver in applying for the grant was the knowledge that VIU needs to do better in creating a truly inclusive and safe environment in which diversity is valued for the intrinsic benefits it brings to us all.

The grant enables VIU to undertake much needed work. It also fits with the VIU People Plan, which enshrines the institutional commitment outlined in the Invitation for Action Foster Diversity, Fairness and Truth Reconciliation. The People Plan was designed based entirely on feedback from VIU employees who clearly stated that more needs to be done in this area.

To this end, the institution has made a series of commitments in the People Plan in its 12-month and 12-36 month action plans. These commitments include but are not limited to:

  • Implement focussed efforts to prioritize hires from under-represented groups.
  • Encourage the use of inclusive language, particularly the use of the term “employees” where possible.
  • Ensure transparency in the hiring process.
  • Using existing communications channels to enhance transparency and accountability.
  • Develop a comprehensive, evidence-based and sustainable equity, diversity and inclusivity program that will influence both institutional- and individual-level changes through training and education.

Even before the grant was awarded, action was being taken to improve EDI. After recognition of the unacceptable challenges persons with disabilities face at the Nanaimo campus, the Universal Access Committee was formed and made significant improvements in making the physical space at VIU more accessible. The committee has a long and ambitious list of items to tackle in the near future. In the spring, Director of Human Rights and Respectful Workplace Monica Kay created the first President’s Award for Access and Inclusion to recognize efforts to make VIU a more inclusive place for employees and students.

The second President and Vice-Chancellor of VIU is a Metis woman who is a neuroscientist. Dr. Deb Saucier was chosen because of her exemplary career as a scientist, researcher, educator and administrator. Her appointment meant that all five of the top leadership positions at VIU (President, two Vice-Presidents, Board Chair and Chancellor) are currently held by women, two of whom are Indigenous.

Dr. Saucier gave a Walrus Talk titled How Universities Can Forge a Path for Female Leadership in Academia in October. She also stated in an article in Nanaimo Magazine that her primary goal at VIU is create access to education for more people who have traditionally been denied it.    

These are current examples of VIU’s leadership on these important areas. However, the journey is far from over.

The phrase Invitation For Action was intentionally chosen to invite all employees at VIU to participate in the achievement of the goals it lays out. Because the plan is in the early stages of implementation, many opportunities for participation and dialogue will occur. Dialogue sessions are planned over the next number of months, each of which will feature a topic pertaining to a specific Invitation for Action.

The first Dialogues Series is scheduled and will be on the topic of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The details are found below:

Topic: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with Karen Bernard, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and Monica Kay, Director, Human Rights and Respectful Workplace

                         Thursday, November 21 11:30 am – 1 pm

                         Building 300 Royal Arbutus Room, Nanaimo Campus

Come and bring your ideas, your questions and listen to VIU’s in-house experts explore this important topic.


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