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Bishop’s University is ready to build on the work of the EDI Task Force and take the next steps in pursuit of our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion…it starts with building a strategy, together! 

EDI Strategy FAQ

What is equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)?

EDI is an umbrella term for all the work contributing to equity and inclusion. It intersects with and may include various kinds of social justice work, including anti-racism, decolonization, and Reconciliation. 

Equity is a process that acknowledges that the ways that we are different affect our ability to participate, belong, and thrive in various groups, communities, and societies. Equity acknowledges that there are socially constructed barriers to participation, belonging, success, and power. These barriers make it difficult to act inclusively or fairly, regardless of our stated intentions or values. The barriers are decided by the ways that people are different and decided by who has access to power or privilege in each group, community, or society. Processes of equity seek to respond to unfairness or imbalances in power and imbalances in access to resources. 

Diversity does not mean ‘people who are outside the majority’. Diversity is a concept meant to convey the existence of differences that matter. Some of our differences are visible; others are hidden or invisible. Some of our differences we are born with; others, we choose for ourselves. Some of our differences are defined or ascribed by the society we live in. Some differences are socially valued and give us access to privilege, while others are not. Each person’s unique combination of differences contributes to their experiences in ways that can be both positive and negative. Diversity is not a spectrum or a measure. One person cannot be more diverse than another. Diversity is created when people who are different from one another come together to form a group such as a community. 

In Canada, the word ‘diverse’ is commonly and inappropriately used to refer to people who are historically, persistently, or systemically marginalized and oppressed. This is problematic. This positions people who have access to power and privilege as ‘not diverse’ (neutral/the norm) and those who are marginalized as ‘diverse’ and ‘Other’. Consider that the terms diverse groups, diverse students, and diverse populations are not commonly used to describe white people, men, cis-gendered people, heterosexual people, Christians, or people who don’t experience disability. 

Inclusion describes the processes and behaviours that make people feel valued and that they belong. Diverse communities are not naturally inclusive; inclusion must be intentionally learned, practiced, and nurtured. When meaningful inclusion is practiced, people can belong and thrive because of their unique differences, not in spite of them. When we acknowledge, appreciate, and seek to understand all the ways that people are different, it becomes possible to practice inclusion. 

What is an EDI strategy?

The strategy is a document, kind of like a roadmap, that tells us where we are now, our strengths, our gaps, the benchmarks we need to achieve, some of the actions we need to get there, and importantly, it names who is accountable for these calls to action.

The strategy allows us to create a vision and a movement—a sustainable movement, not just a moment. It is our chance to ensure that pursuit of equity, inclusion, and justice are embedded in all aspects of our university community, in who we are, what we do, and how we take care of each other. It tells us what and where our assets are, what we need to change, what we need to tear down, and how we can advance our commitments and move forward.

An EDI Strategy will guide us from intention to action.

Why do we need an EDI Strategy? 

Bishop’s University has a lot of heart. There are a lot of great people here who are working to uplift this community and make us stronger. All Canadian universities, including Bishop’s, struggle with institutional oppression like systemic racism and cultures that protect a harmful status quo—this means that we might contribute to various forms of exclusion, regardless of our stated intentions. But it does not have to be this way.

To pursue equity and inclusion means we must challenge ourselves to act in ways that align with our stated intentions and the values that we hold. We need to be united, and we need to be coordinated. We need to translate our intentions into action. 

That is why we need a Strategy. The strategy will allow us to- 

  • embed EDI in everything we do as a matter of principle, policy, and practice 
  • connect, intersect, and relate all the EDI and social justice work around campus 
  • give us a common direction and purpose 
  • describe responsibilities and accountabilities  
  • name the actions that will help us live our values 
  • and, unsettle, (un)learn, grow, and innovate  
What is the plan?

The plan is to listen deeply, to be transparent, and to be responsive. 

This will be a collectively written EDI Strategy. We are writing it this way because a sustainable strategy needs all of us to participate in it. This strategy must amplify the experiences and needs of this community. And, we all need to own it and be accountable for it. This strategy will endure for generations of Bishop’s students, faculty, staff, and administration. We need a plan that reflects who we are now and has the power to evolve and respond to the needs of the Bishop’s community for years to come. 

There will be many opportunities to get involved. You can choose when and how often you contribute. We are inviting you to be involved in every phase of the dialogue and writing. There will be small and large writing groups, virtual whiteboards, forums, quizzes and questionnaires, circle dialogues, and EquiTEAtime with the Special Advisor, just to name a few opportunities.  

And, the strategy will be available as a public working document. You can access it and add your ideas in real time or check out how others are contributing. The Special Advisor will check in, review the contributions, update the Strategy and update the Bishop’s community as we move along. 

We will be using the Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmarks (GEDIB), the Scarborough Charter, and the Bishop’s University EDI Task Force final report as our guidelines for best practices, desired outcomes, and naming accountability. We will leverage the expertise of members of the Bishop’s community who have the knowledge and experience to keep us on track. 

Who can be involved?

Any member of the Bishop’s University community is invited to participate. This strategy will take all of us to get it right—students, faculty, administration, staff, and members of the alumni.  

We are inviting everyone at Bishop’s to join us. Everyone has something to offer. We want people who are passionate and curious, even if you have a lot to learn. Come with an open heart and a growth mindset. We need you. We need everyone at Bishop’s to lead from where you are.  

How do I get involved?

Complete the survey above and send any ideas, questions, or comments to edi@ubishops.ca and keep checking back and responding to surveys or questionnaires and attending our events! 

Our EDI Commitment

Bishop’s University is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Abenaki people (the people of the rising sun). We acknowledge their stewardship of this land and appreciate that we are all guests on Abenaki territory.

Bishop’s University was founded in 1843 by the Anglican church and has evolved into a secular institution which does not privilege any particular religion or creed.

As an institution of higher education focused on teaching and research, Bishop’s is built on a foundation of strong values and principles.

Bishop’s University is committed to fostering an environment of belonging where individual differences are recognized, embraced, valued and integrated into all aspects of the University.

Bishop’s University recognizes that systemic racism exists in our institution and we are not immune to modes of discrimination towards equity-seeking groups, including discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, religious practice and ability.

Bishop’s aspires to be a community that instills curiosity, confidence, courage and a sense of responsibility in its students.

As a community of learning, the University has a responsibility not only to the intellectual development and academic support of its members, but also to the provision of a safe, equitable and compassionate environment for all those who comprise it.

It is necessary for all members of the University community – including students, faculty, librarians, staff, administrators, governors and alumni – to participate actively in the creation and maintenance of an environment free from discrimination of all kinds.

As an institution of higher learning, we have the capacity and energy to push beyond the status quo and to lead the way towards a community of belonging. Indeed, as an institution of higher learning, it is our moral obligation to do so.

As Bishop’s continues its trajectory of growth and development, the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion are central to our commitment of fostering diversity, inclusion and belonging within our community.

Land Acknowledgment

K’wlipaï8ba W9banakiak wdakiw8k. Bishop’s University is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Abenaki people (the people of the rising sun). We acknowledge their stewardship and appreciate that we are all guests on Abenaki territory. 

Why are Land Acknowledgments Important?

Land and treaty acknowledgements are important to disrupting invisibility and ongoing erasure. They serve to help people recognize where the land came from and how it is has evolved, celebrate those who have made contributions, and recognize how we have benefitted from it. Decolonization, Indigenization, and Reconciliation must go beyond words.

Like many institutions, Bishop’s University is impacted by historic and evolving questions around rights, power, belonging, and justice. These questions invite us to reflect on and address our complex legacy in both our pursuit of academic excellence and our relationship to historical and present-day (in)justices.

Bishop’s University commits to (un)learning and relearning, building respectful and reciprocal relationships, and pursing truth-telling and reconciliaction as part of our ongoing relationship with the land, waters, and peoples here.