February 3, 2021
Canadian society is evolving – becoming more diverse and increasingly recognizing that diversity must be accompanied by conscious and serious efforts towards inclusion. At Carleton, as on many university campuses across the country, over 40 per cent of our students are from culturally diverse communities. At all institutions, there is a recognition of the urgent need to better reflect our diversity in our academic mission and campus operations. Carleton has been at the forefront of change, notably in responding to the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and must continue to lead the way towards a more equitable world where everyone can fully belong and fully contribute.
We are keenly aware that the names of our buildings – like those on campuses across Canada – are not representative of our community or the current Canadian population. In this spirit, following the release of our new and exciting Strategic Integrated Plan, our Kinàmàgawin (Learning Together) Indigenous Strategy, and our recently completed Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, I am pleased to announce that we are launching an initiative to give three of our main campus buildings new names that reflect our diversity and commitment to inclusion:
Carleton is of course situated on the traditional, unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Nation. We propose to go beyond land recognition and initiate a process that will engage Algonquin communities – notably Kitigan Zibi and Pikwakanagan – towards naming this central and high-profile facility at the crossroads of all campus activity.
We also propose to engage Black communities in a process to name the beautiful Residence Commons, a central hub of student life, in a manner that reflects the importance of their contributions and achievements on campus and beyond. This is timely in the wake of the historic social movement sparked by the tragic killing of George Floyd, and the growing recognition of historic and present injustice in Canada.
Finally, it is with the gracious support of the Robertson family that a process will be initiated to engage the Inuit community towards naming our main administrative building Robertson Hall in the spirit of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to acknowledge and honour the Inuit of Canada.
We are fortunate that Kahente Horn-Miller (AVP Indigenous Initiatives), Michael Charles (AVP Equity and Inclusive Communities), Benny Michaud (Director, Centre for Indigenous Initiatives), and Jerry Tomberlin (Provost) have already agreed to play key roles in this initiative. Please stay tuned for more information coming shortly, including how you can volunteer to be part of this exciting process.
We expect that processes such as the one we are launching today will become increasingly common as universities continue to adjust their physical spaces – and other aspects of their activities and operations – to the realities and needs of the present time. I am proud that Carleton will be taking this important step towards further strengthening our commitment to Indigenous Reconciliation and against anti-Black racism.
President and Vice-Chancellor