Santa Ono, student societies release statements in solidarity with Black communities

President Santa Ono, the AMS and the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) have all released separate statements in support of Black communities after yesterday’s protest at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

After anti-racist protests have spread across the United States following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last week, protests have reached Canada with events taking place in major cities including Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal.

“There are consequences to UBC not being as diverse and inclusive as it needs to be,” said Ono at the Board of Governors’ People, Community & International Committee Monday afternoon.

“On behalf of the University, I condemn and denounce all incidents of anti-Black and anti-Asian racism and the continued racism and oppression that is directed at Indigenous communities,” Ono said in a written statement accompanying his speech.

Ono said he will commit adequate resources to the Inclusion Action Plan, engage with Black and Asian stakeholders, and ensure “all our public safety officers and other authority figures are adequately trained to eliminate any unconscious or implicit bias.”

Student societies post statements

“On behalf of the entire AMS, we stand in solidarity with Black communities here at UBC, in Vancouver, Minneapolis, Toronto, and around the world, in strongly asserting that Black Lives Matter,” reads the AMS statement, co-signed by AMS executives Cole Evans, Georgia Yee, Lucia Liang, Kalith Nanayakkara and Sylvester Mensah Jr. “The systemic violence that individuals who are Black are confronted with on a daily basis must stop.”

The statement said that “racial violence is a persisting result of colonial systems” and that the AMS will be creating “programs and resources” to fight these issues at UBC.

Attached to the statement is a list of educational resources, supports and calls to action urging students to donate to relevant funds if possible or to sign petitions.

The original half-page AUS statement also expressed solidarity with those fighting anti-Black racism.

“We also wish to denounce the rhetoric that confines these issues to the United States,” the statement reads. “Canada has an extensive history of violence, dispossession and racism that targets marginalized groups, including the Black community.”

The AUS followed up its statement with a longer six-page letter calling on the Faculty of Arts to release a statement, recognizing three Black-run clubs and listing actions the AUS will take to combat anti-Black racism. These actions include a donation to Black-run organizations with more details to be released June 6, the creation of a philanthropy grant and hosting a mandatory equity workshop for AUS members.

“We acknowledge that our initial statement was a rushed effort, and we did not take the necessary time to think thoroughly about how we, as an undergraduate society, can work to dismantle white supremacy in our community, and for this, we sincerely apologize.”

This is an evolving story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

This article was updated June 4 at 11:30 a.m. to include the AUS’s follow-up statement.