Statement from Students for Black Lives

Thousands of people from all walks of life came together on June 5 at the Manitoba Legislature to rally for racial justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement has triggered mass protests across the US and around the world. The following is a statement released prior to the rally by the coalition Students for Black Lives, of which UMSU is a founding member.

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Dear students,

For far too long, Black organizers, leaders, and community members have been enduring hate, retraumatization, and injustice by systems that were designed to marginalize them. This recent news should not be minimized to a headline. Preceding every attack on blackness, there have been generations of dedicated work for justice and lives at stake.

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many other Black lives have been taken at the hands of anti-Black racism – most recently, just across Manitoba’s southern border. However, the discrimination and crimes against blackness do not end there. Regis Korchinski-Paquet of Toronto, D’Andre Campbell of Brampton, and Machuar Madut of Winnipeg name only a fraction of the institutional murders at the hands of Canadian law enforcement. We are not exempt from this conversation.

Student organizations across Manitoba are uniting to investigate the role that we each play in putting an end to anti-Black racism. As students at institutions of higher learning, it is critical that we check our privilege, direct our attention to what is already within our power to impact, and uplift the voices of this movement that have been stifled.

While we each deconstruct what this means for our individual campuses, we are collectively assisting Black organizers, supporting our peers, and using our resources to share their work. We are re-evaluating conduct within our institutions, talking to key decision-makers, and – most importantly – listening. We are calling upon Manitoban post-secondary students – about 62,000 agents for change – to do the same and to add their voices to this movement.

Sincerely,

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union

The University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association

The Red River College Students’ Association

The Assiniboine Community College Students’ Association

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University of Manitoba Context

Both UMSU & the UMGSA vow to continue bringing the safety of systematically racialized members of the student body to the forefront. We will be in correspondence with members of the University administration and campus security to investigate processes in place to support anti-racism.

We will also be collecting feedback from the student community and recommendations for the upcoming UM Report for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion – in addition to the EDI climate survey which received about 4,000 responses. The publication of the report, along with the institutional recommendations, are anticipated for Fall 2020.

Additionally, we will continue our work to deconstruct racism and inequity at the University of Manitoba, encompassing accessibility, inclusive resources, representation within our organizations, and the safety of student spaces. Learn about progress as updates become available through the executive reports to the UMSU Board of Directors and UMGSA platforms.

For recommendations and concerns, please email pres@umsu.ca and pres@umgsa.org

 

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