Black Lives Matter at Memorial

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Dr Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor.

Memorial University of Newfoundland.

This letter is written on behalf of those who feel that Memorial University’s initiative to be actively anti-racist needs to be strengthened.

In early June 2020, the death of George Floyd raised a wave of global response encouraging every individual, every corporation, and every institution to acknowledge racism and to become actively anti-racist. Becoming anti-racist is not a political matter- it is a matter of human rights. It is not enough to stand in silence; we must become an ally. As an academic community, we need to do better by listening and learning about the structures of power that both explicitly and implicitly oppress black people, black identifying people, and other marginalized communities. This means that we must look within ourselves and within our institutions to be able to have those uncomfortable conversations about systematic inequality.

For many, a university symbolizes the opportunity for change and to work towards a better future for all. As many of us know, the future of black lives is under threat, so as an academic body, it is our obligation to acknowledge racism and to do the things that we can to ensure that academia and our community upholds our goal to be anti-racist and socially equitable. Memorial University should actively broadcast their anti-racist standards and initiatives by sharing the steps being taken to create an anti-racist atmosphere within their own institution. It is not enough to post a black square on Memorial University’s Instagram page for #blackouttuesday- we need to know that Memorial University stands with Black Lives Matter.


As part of the Canadian academic community, it is important that Memorial University actively stands against racism by:

1) Ensuring that Memorial actively recruits black and black identifying candidates/panellists for committees/boards/networking events/conferences.
2) Considering black and black identifying individuals for full-time professor/teaching roles.
3) Creating more entry-level courses for all disciplines with more content on race, social inequality, and injustices.
4) Ensuring that Memorial has black and black identifying therapists/counsellors available (full-time) for students.
5) Collectively being open to suggestions from students who are black and/or black identifying


We agree with your statement from your (greatly appreciated) public message, “that universities should not reflect the world in which we live; rather, they should reflect the world in which we want to live.” So, with saying this, let us do what we say, and actively strive for an anti-racist world.

Respectfully,