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Scarborough National Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education

Acadia joined 40 post-secondary institutions across Canada in November 2021 to sign the Scarborough Charter on anti-Black racism and Black inclusion in Canadian higher education: Principles, Actions, and Accountabilities. As of May 2022, there have been 53 post-secondary institutions to sign the charter, with more to come. Those who have signed the Charter have committed to addressing and redressing the anti-Black racism in universities and colleges across Canada and fostering Black inclusion on those campuses.

What is the Scarborough Charter?

The Scarborough Charter is a commitment to the elimination and redress anti-Black racism on campuses across the country, as well as a commitment to fostering Black inclusion in post-secondary institutions.

The Charter is meant to affirm the importance for post-secondary institutions to take up the call to foster pan-Canadian communities of learning that practice ongoing dialogue and action yielding inclusion, as well as substantive equality and societal transformation.

The Scarborough Charter has four guiding principles: 1) Black flourishing, 2) inclusive excellence, 3) mutuality, and 4) accountability. Descriptions below are directly from the charter itself:

Black Flourishing: Universities and colleges are central to enabling the just, fulsome realization of human potential and thriving. They play a pivotal role in redressing anti-Black racism by removing structural barriers to equity, inclusion, and social justice, with full recognition of our intersectional identities, while advancing the innovative research, critical thinking, and engaged dissemination of knowledge that foster substantive equality, human dignity, and sustainability.

Inclusive excellence: Inclusive excellence embodies the recognition that not only is post-secondary education enriched by equity, diversity, and inclusion; equitable inclusion is critical to excellence. Excellence encompasses the ability of universities and colleges to educate and to innovate; to be alive to complexity and proactive in the face of crisis; to foster fundamental questioning through rigorous, respectful engagements across difference; and to enable societal transformation.

Mutuality: Universities and colleges are embedded in communities locally, as well as nationally, regionally and internationally. By recognizing a responsibility to foster mutuality, universities and colleges acknowledge the multiple social relations and modes of societal action upon which universities and colleges depend and for which they are accountable. The positive, interactive relationship with Black communities entailed by mutuality includes the special role universities and colleges can assume in Black community economic development, notably as anchor institutions and local employers.

Accountability: Accountability involves a commitment both to ongoing education – including self-education – and to courageous action built on deeply consultative processes. Accountability includes acknowledging, respecting, and acting respectfully in the face of Black life, in its full complexity and intersectionality. Universities and colleges must move beyond mere representation and take responsibility for supporting fulsome, transformative inclusion across university and college structures, policies, and procedures. By signing the Scarborough Charter, universities and colleges commit to a process of continuous improvement through ongoing, sustained implementing of the Scarborough Charter’s principles-based commitments to action, and to be answerable for concrete outcomes, including to their respective Boards, communities and other stakeholders.

The charter also expands on the actions that institutions are to take in order to fulfill the commitments and principals laid out above.

Under the “Action: Institutional” heading are these four actions:

  1. Universities and Colleges commit to promoting intersectional Black flourishing in governance; research; teaching and learning; and in community engagement.

  2. Universities and Colleges commit to fostering inclusive excellence in governance; research; teaching and learning; and in community engagement.

  3. Universities and Colleges commit to enabling mutuality in governance; research; teaching and learning; and in community engagement.

  4. Universities and Colleges commit to ensuring accountability in governance; research; teaching and learning; and in community engagement.

Under the “Action: Cross-sector Inter-institutional Commitments and Accountability” heading are these actions:

To promote the ongoing sector-wide collaboration, mutual learning, sustained commitment and sharing of resources among Canadian universities, colleges, and related bodies and agencies to redress anti-Black racism and to promote Black inclusion, signatories to the Scarborough Charter agree to establish the Inter-institutional Forum on Inclusive Higher Education (held May 13th, and 14th). Signatories also commit to supporting the Inter-institutional Steering Committee on Inclusive Education as well as to implement the Scarborough Charter and support the work of the Inter-institutional forum.

Community Making and Black Flourishing through the Scarborough Charter at UBC

The inaugural 2022 Scarborough Charter Inter-Institutional Forum and Symposium were hosted over two days by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. Presidents and senior institutional leads responsible for equity, diversity, and inclusion, from the Canadian post-secondary institutions that had signed the charter were invited to attend the business meetings and symposium.

The event brought together experts, thought leaders, administration, faculty, community activists, and students from across the country to build bridges and develop pathways forward for actively addressing anti-Black racism and promoting Black representation in academia.

Dr. Peter Ricketts, the President and Vice-Chancellor of Acadia and Polly Leonard, the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer at Acadia attended the forum on May 13th and 14th at the University of BC. The inter-institutional forums discussed the terms of reference, operating budget, as well as partnerships. Presentations included the importance of institutional disaggregated data gathering and measurements and Canadian Black Studies departments. The final event was a community and student panels, presentations, and music where the voices and lived realities of Black students were showcased.  It was a thoughtful and powerful event, many folks mentioned how historical the meetings were. We are excited to support the implementation of the Charter at Acadia University.

Watch a recording of the final day of the community symposium here.









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