Equity and Anti-Racism Committee


Equity and Anti-Racism Committee Annual Report

May 13, 2022


The Equity and Anti-Racism Committee (EARC) was formed as a temporary committee at last year’s AGM (June 2021) to make a recommendation regarding the society’s continued participation in Congress. In October 2021, after a number of months reaching out to other societies and meeting to discuss the Federation of Humanities and Social Science’s Igniting Change report, the committee shared its initial report with the membership. The general membership voted to accept the recommendation’s reports on November 7, 2022. For detailed information regarding the events leading to the formation of the initial committee and its initial findings, please see the complete initial report here: http://comics-scholars.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Equity-and-Anti-Racism-Committee-Report-V1.2.pdf

In addition to recommending that the EARC become a permanent standing committee, one of the report’s recommendations was that “The CSSC/SCEBD’s participation in Congress 2022 will be contingent upon the Federation demonstrating measurable progress in applying recommendations 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 22, 26, and 35 from the Igniting Change report.” Accordingly, the committee’s main task since November has been to communicate with the Federation to track the progress in enacting these recommendations.


In December, CSSC/SCEBD President Keith Friedlander met with Dhanela Sivaparan, the Federation’s new Senior Advisor of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (EDID), and Camille Farrier, Director of Communications and Member Engagement. The focus of the meeting was to communicate the EARC’s report and recommendations to the Federation and request that the Federation provide updates regarding the progress of their own EDID initiatives. Over the following months, both parties continued to communicate via email and the Federation shared evidence of its progress. This information is summarized in Table 1 (see below). Sivaparan also emphasized that the Federation had reached a signed agreement with the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA), confirming their participation in Congress 2022. The Federation representatives encouraged continued communication and input from CSSC/SCEBD regarding future EDID initiatives.

Table 1: Overview of Federation’s EDID Progress

Igniting Change RecommendationFederation’s actions to date
Recommendation 4: The Federation and Congress host universities should embed anti-racism and anticolonial principles, policies, and practices into the strategic event plan for Congress.The Federation stated that it would release its EDID policies for Congress 2022 in April. The subsequent update was shared on April 28 and can be viewed here: https://www.federationhss.ca/sites/default/files/2022-04/Federation-EDID-Progress-Update-EN.pdf. Their plan incorporates Indigenous protocols and practices for conferences. It also indicates that an Ombudsman would be appointed to oversee the handling of any cases of harassment or discrimination to ensure procedural fairness.
Recommendation 9: The Federation should establish a Standing Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization, with a caucus for each equity-deserving group (women, Indigenous Journalists for Human Rights – Indigenous Peoples, visible/racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+) that could advise on Congress and other Federation events.In October 2021, the Federation established its Standing Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization. Initial members include Barrington Walker, Deanna Reder, and Wesley Crichlow. Biographical information regarding each committee member can be found at https://www.federationhss.ca/en/about-us/governance/committees
Recommendation 10: The Federation should hire a designated staff member with equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization expertise to support and evaluate Congress and other Federation events.Federation has hired a permanent staff member for the role of Senior Advisor, Equity Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization: Dhanela Sivaparan, PhDc.Source: https://www.federationhss.ca/en/federation-welcomes-new-senior-advisor-edid-0
Recommendation 12: The Federation should be proactive and produce online equity, diversity, inclusion, and decolonization training sessions, modules, and resource supports for all Congress staff, service providers, and attendees at Congress and other Federation events.There is no direct evidence of training sessions for staff. However, there is evidence of ample resources provided to organizers and member societies for the planning of individual conferences.
Recommendation 13: The Federation should develop an equitable financing model for equity-deserving groups (e.g. sliding scale for registrants or fee waivers, scholarships), and consider variable fees (Elders, students, community, retired or unwaged earners, etc.); should seek support, including from the federal government, to provide graduate scholarships and to enable fee exemptions for community and low-income members attending Congress and other events.On October 27, The Federation announced that it will be eliminating registration fees for  “students and community members who identify as Black and/or Indigenous.”Source:https://www.federationhss.ca/en/update-our-work-towards-equity-diversity-inclusion-and-decolonization-edid
Additionally, in March the Federation announced the creation of a new fund to support child and dependent care for presenters that require home-based care providers during Congress.Source: https://www.federationhss.ca/en/congress/congress-2022/speaker-service-centre#child
Recommendation 22: The Federation should consider making a statement in support of diversity of panels at Congress, including an opposition to all-male and all-white panels.The Igniting Change report explicitly recommends avoiding all-male and all-white panels (Part III – Article 2.5). This advice is repeated in planning materials shared with member institutes.Source: https://www.federationhss.ca/sites/default/files/2021-10/Igniting-Change-Final-Report-and-Recommendations-en.pdf
Recommendation 26: The Federation should adopt clear guidelines on inclusive language, including but not limited to, the use of gender-neutral/gender-aware language, pronouns, and preferred names, and in the way they appear and can be self-defined in online spaces.The Federation has publicly adopted the Charter on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization and is promoting its adoption amongst other organizations. The Charter contains articles regarding inclusive language. There are also a number of support documents regarding pronouns and inclusive language  provided to societies through the Organizer’s Portal.Source: https://fhss.swoogo.com/edid-charter

The EARC held a meeting on March 1, 2022 to review the information provided by the Federation. Based on the available evidence, the committee recommended to the Executive Committee that CSSC/SCEBD participate in Congress 2022. The Executive Committee unanimously voted to accept this request and commit to participating in Congress on March 3, 2022.

Discussion and Recommendations

Beyond recommending that CSSC/SCEBD participate in this year’s Congress, the EARC discussed a number of matters regarding the society’s ongoing relationship with the Federation. As per Dr. Sivaparan’s request, the Federation encourages the CSSC/SCEBD continue to be proactive in providing feedback and input regarding future EDID initiatives. Likewise, the EARC wishes to emphasize that its recommendation to participate in Congress is provisional, based upon the Federation’s current progress. It will be important to continue to monitor the Federation’s progress and operations, and to re-open the question for the general membership at future AGMs.

Based on these factors, the committee submits the following recommendations to the CSSC/SCEBD Executive and membership:

–   In terms of future EDID initiatives on the part of the Federation, the CSSC/SCEBD would like to see the continued expansion of funding and financial support. One request arising from our membership was that the current fee waivers for self-identifying Black and Indigenous students should be extended to online participants located in the Global South. This is only one example of a group that would benefit from support.

–   As the only recommendation from the above list lacking direct evidence, the EARC should request information regarding the continued implementation of Igniting Change Recommendation 10 leading up to Congress 2023. Specifically, information should be provided regarding the EDID training sessions for Congress staff and service providers.

–   On a related note, the EARC would like to learn more about modes of redress in cases of harassment and discrimination. Specifically, it should be clear what processes or procedures will be followed in the aftermath of an incident.

–   As per recommendation 5 of the EARC’s initial report from October, the committee should monitor the Federation’s long-term progress in enacting recommendations from the Igniting Change report, paying special attention to recommendations 3, 6, 8, 19, 20, 25, 27, and 29.

–   The CSSC/SCEBD Executive should continue to raise the question of the society’s ongoing membership in the Federation for discussion at future AGMs.

–   The Federation has stated a desire to collaborate with and receive input from member organizations. With this in mind, it should be remembered that this collaboration is a shared responsibility and the EARC should continue to communicate and collaborate with Dr. Sivaparan.

Finally, the committee would like to encourage members to get involved by volunteering as part of the Equity and Anti-Racism committee for the upcoming year.

Submitted on behalf of the Equity and Anti-Racism Committee

Keith Friedlander

Elisabeth Pfeiffer

Kalervo Sinervo

Jaya Wathare