I am Theresa Ann Rajack-Talley, Dalhousie’s inaugural (2019) Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion. Welcome to the virtual window of the Office for Equity and Inclusion (OEI). The OEI provides leadership, builds capacity, and encourages collaborative action to advance sustainable, systemic/structural change that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in all dimensions of the mission, culture, and operations of Dalhousie University.
The OEI was previously known as HRES but now consists of three separate but integrated units: Human Rights & Equity Services (HRES), Community Engagement (Indigenous, African Nova Scotian), and Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility (EDIA), supported by data collection and analyses. We are a team of skilled, experienced, passionate, and committed individuals who come together to make a collective impact in educating, preventing, and addressing a wide variety of equity issues that includes racism, sexualized violence, homophobia, personal harassment, and discrimination of all kinds and at all levels in the institution. Although a small unit we work across the university and strive every day to create an environment where everyone can safely work, study, and socialize and are respected for being their authentic selves.
While the OEI is relatively new, this work for social justice started when Dalhousie was first established a little over 200 years. Under the boot of colonialism and all that it represents, resistance and the struggles for equity and inclusion were ever-present and have persisted. Work to address inequities in this institution is a result of many individuals, groups, councils, caucuses, and underserved/excluded communities who for decades have led us to where we are currently. This includes the hiring of myself as the inaugural Vice Provost for Equity & Inclusion and the establishment of the OEI.
To date, there are 3 caucuses (Black Faculty & Staff, Queer Faculty & Staff, Faculty & Staff with (dis)Abilities) and two advisory councils (African Nova Scotian and Indigenous). There are also nine internal reports that identify the ramifications of this history and recommendations informed by members of the communities on how we can address the inequities that have resulted and continue.
Included among these are the African Nova Scotia Strategic Report [PDF - 592 kb] and the Indigenous Council Strategic Report [PDF - 3 mb]. Additionally, there are two national mandates, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC) and the Scarborough Charter on anti-Black racism and Black Flourishing at universities and colleges. These reports serve as guiding principles as well as offer specificities on how to become more inclusive. As we build the structures for transformational change, the recommendations from these reports, as well as emergent ones, will be addressed through OEI-established Pan-University Committees for Equity & Inclusion.