The Black Lives Matter movement and the senseless deaths of George Floyd and so many others became a catalyst for a challenging conversation that paved the way for what we hope is the beginning of systemic change at UTS.
We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the horrific and unacceptable events of police brutality and racial injustice regarding the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and suspicious death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. We recognize that we have a platform in the UTS community, and we want to use it to condemn not only the recent events of racism but also the deep-rooted history of systemic racism that continues to persist today. Everyone in our community has the duty to actively combat these power structures built on oppression, prejudice, bigotry, and hate. Although we aren’t able to collectively gather due to COVID-19, we hope that wherever you are, you seek to make a change in our community by challenging, racism, discrimination, and violence.Daeja ’21, Black Equity Committee
The conversation began in early June with an outpouring of messages of support for the movement within our community, starting with S5 (Grade 11) Daeja and M3 (Grade 9) Leyat, the student leaders of the UTS Black Equity Committee, and Principal Rosemary Evans. Many more voices, including Vice Principal Garth Chalmers, UTS Parents’ Association (UTSPA) leaders, UTS Captains and student leaders, also shared their anti-racism messages and their support for the movement.
The events in recent days have highlighted that we have a long way to go to address the anti-Black racism and biases that continue to be prevalent in our society. To be treated with respect and dignity is a basic human right. So many of us are heartbroken and angered by the injustices that we have seen, but now is the time for us to take ownership of creating a better world. Every person deserves to be treated equitably with respect and dignity. We stand in solidarity with our black community, and commit to creating a better world through our actions and words.Rimmy Kaur, UTSPA Co-President
On June 10, the Black Equity Committee Executive Daeja and Leyat moderated the UTS Anti-Racism panel with three young alumnae as guest speakers: Taylor Shirtliff-Hinds ’17 (a former UTS captain), Cindy Gao ’17, and Kyra Colbert ’16, who were all studying at Harvard University.
The conversation was deeply revealing with incidents of systemic racism being described, tears shed and the stark reality: despite the best intentions, racism still happens here.
The event brought alumni together, with over 230 signing a letter to the UTS Administration on June 10, calling for action on several fronts, which included creating an Anti-Racism Policy, and a transparent anti-racism strategy to address the underrepresentation of Black people and other marginalized groups in our community. A similar letter signed by over 40 students reiterated and expanded on the calls to action.
Over the summer, the conversation evolved through discussion with alumni, students, parents, and staff, into more concrete actions that could make our school a more diverse, welcoming and equitable place, contributing to the development of the UTS Action Steps Re: Anti-racism, Diversity and Inclusion to guide our school forward in improving diversity, equity, and inclusion at UTS.
Changing school culture, programs, and practices, is complex work which takes time and the efforts of our entire community. Together, we can make UTS a better place for everyone.