VIU Selected for an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Grant and the Dimensions Pilot

Federal program Dimensions Minister of Sport and Science

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport announces the Dimensions Pilot as (left) Dr. Mohamed Lachemi, President, Ryerson University and (right) the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, look on.

August 15, 2019 - 10:00am

As a values-based institution, Vancouver Island University (VIU) embraces the principle that a diverse range of talents, opinions, perspectives, experiences and worldviews contributes to excellence. When we foster an environment that seeks and values this diversity and ensures that inclusion exists, everyone in the university community thrives.

It is one thing to state that equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a priority for any organization. Acting on this commitment requires undertaking extensive work to find the barriers, uncover unconscious bias in processes such as hiring, develop ways to celebrate diversity and ultimately transform culture. Thanks to funding from three federal research agencies, VIU will develop and implement a plan to do this necessary work. It will benefit from the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Capacity Building Grant, a joint initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), collectively known as the Tri-Agencies.

“This is a sector-wide concern that universities across Canada are facing, and this grant positions VIU as one of the leaders working to advance EDI,” said Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, AVP Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity. “VIU has some solid achievements to build on, such as its indigenization efforts, support for international students, and the level of women’s representation in leadership. At the same time, there are also gaps and shortcomings that will be identified and addressed under VIU’s EDIA Program. This grant will give VIU an opportunity to consult the community and engage them in the development of an EDI action plan. This will ensure that as our talent pool becomes larger it will also be more diverse and inclusive thereby enabling us to be more innovative and creative.”

The grant, which amounts to almost $400,000 over two years was awarded via a national competition in the spring. Two new positions have been created including Karen Bernard as VIU’s EDI Advisor and Sean de Maio as the EDI Policy Analyst. Both come with extensive backgrounds in this area and will work with university leaders to identify and eliminate systemic barriers that impede the recruitment, retention, and advancement of underrepresented groups, with a focus on research and academic leadership roles.

VIU was also one of 15 institutions selected nationally to participate in the pilot of the Dimensions Award, announced August 15, 2019 by Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan. This initiative is called Dimensions in recognition of the multitude of ways people self-identify. The program invites signatories to participate in a “post-secondary transformation to increase equity, diversity and inclusion and help drive deeper cultural change within the research ecosystem. Sound EDI-informed policies and practices improve access to the largest pool of qualified potential participants, enhance the integrity of a program's application and selection processes, strengthen research outputs and increase the overall excellence of research. The award considers how PSI address obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups, and members of 2SLGBTQ+ communities. It provides public recognition for institutions committed to achieving increased EDI.”

VIU has endorsed the charter and principles on the Dimensions Award, which helps participants celebrate their EDI wins publicly and holds them to account for creating meaningful change. As a participant in the Dimensions Program, led by Dr. Carol Stuart, Interim Provost and Vice-President Academic, VIU will have access to resources and a community of practice across the country to learn from. 

“The fact that the Tri-Agencies launched these initiatives demonstrates the federal commitment to diversity in academia,” Stuart said. “It recognizes that EDI improvements at universities will bring new perspectives and ways of knowing into classrooms and research programs to better represent the diversity of Canadian society. The fact that VIU received the grant and is participating in the pilot of the Dimensions Award recognizes what VIU has accomplished so far, and will support the challenges of a smaller institution working toward improving EDI. The challenge ahead of us is significant, as we identify the barriers that still exist and determine how we need to progress toward equity and inclusion.  I know we can do the work to go further.”

Read more about EDI at VIU.

Alyson Winks

Communications & Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6529 | C: 250.618.7930 | E: | T: @VIUNews

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