Stop Faith Goldy and Dr. Ricardo Duchesne from speaking at the University of Waterloo

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Boozhoo, Aanii, Shé:kon,

We are the Indigenous Students' Association of the University of Waterloo. We address this letter to our leaders at the University of Waterloo, those to whom we entrust our safety and wellness. We address this letter to President Feridun Hamdullahpur, to the academic Deans, Faculty, and Provost. We call upon you to leverage your positions as leaders. We ask that you protect your students. 

On Monday April 30th, 2018 Faith Goldy and Dr. Ricardo Duchesne will present at UW’s Theater of the Arts hosted by the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry (LSOI). The LSOI is a new group claiming to champion free speech and free thought, but their version of these ideals comes at the expense of marginalized members of society. Their leader, Lindsay Shepherd, has openly supported the rhetoric of Sen. Lynn Beyak, denounced land-acknowledgements and repeatedly created unsafe spaces for LGBTQ2 students. This latest event will provide a public forum for the neo-nazi views of Faith Goldy and the opinions of Dr. Ricardo Duchesne who wrote a book entitled “Canada in Decay: Mass Immigration, Diversity, and Ethnocide of Euro-Canadians”.

 In allowing this event to go forward, the University of Waterloo will be sending a message that the perception of academic freedoms is more important than the lives of their diverse students. In allowing this event to go forward, the University of Waterloo will essentially be writing a blank cheque to any intolerant figure who wants to parade their ideals under the banner of free speech. The way the University of Waterloo responds to this will define the success of any progressive discourse they attempt to have, because we, the Indigenous Students’ Association, will be here to remind everyone.

We remind our academic leaders, our fellow students, and the organizers of this event that  Indigenous people of Turtle Island have an expert understanding of the effects of colonization and immigration because it is our lived reality. We would like to point out the irony of a group of settler students facilitating conversations about immigration. Facilitating conversations that attempt to protect a false idea of a white Canadian identity through racist discourse against immigration and refugee status Canadians is purely inappropriate.

 The LSOI, Lindsay Shepherd and her army of privileged followers want people to see this as an issue of academic freedom. They want any efforts to stop this event to be seen as an attack on their freedoms. We feel differently. The suppression of vile, racist, intolerant rhetoric does not in any way impede vigorous debate. People often misunderstand freedom of speech to be an allowance to say whatever they want wherever they want without criticism. In Canada, freedom of speech under the law does not cover hate speech—that is, speech that incites violence or hatred against other groups. It is also worth noting that only the government can be charged with limiting freedom of speech. This means that the University of Waterloo, as an independent institution, has the right to refuse anyone from speaking on campus without infringing on freedom of speech—especially in an instance such as this, where the speaker intends to promote ideas rooted in hatred.

So we remind our UW leaders that they have a choice to make, and that choice will reflect on the values of this institution on a domestic and international stage. We are here, we are watching, and we will remember.

To our BIPOC friends and peers on campus, we see you, we value you, and we are here for you.

In unity,

Indigenous Students’ Association (ISA) of  the University of Waterloo




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