A project of the Faculty of Human Kinetics, comprising the departments of Kinesiology and Athletics and Recreational Services, is meant to ensure it is a welcoming place to study or play sports or recreate.
In June, the faculty established an anti-racism subcommittee of its long-standing equity committee, to help move it towards positive change.
Committee chair Kevin Milne, the faculty’s associate dean of academic programs, notes it prides itself on being a family.
“But if this is something we value, we have to ensure that we support and highlight the accomplishments of all our students and student-athletes,” says Dr. Milne. “We also have to make sure that what we’re doing goes beyond a simple reaction to current events and becomes a part of our very culture.”
Milne says the tragic events highlighted by the senseless violence against Black men and women in the United States over the past year have put an unfortunate but necessary lens on the experiences of Black people, not only in the U.S., but also in Canada and around the world.
“These issues are not new, nor is our institution immune to the problems that stem from systemic racism,” he says.
To ensure every person is heard, the committee adopted the theme VOICES — Visibility, Outreach, Inclusion, Community, Equity, and Sustainability — to guide its actions.
To that end, the committee was successful in:
- having permanent student diversity, equity, and inclusion co-ordinators added to the Human Kinetics Society;
- obtaining Ignite funding for student positions as human kinetics student diversity outreach and recruitment specialists with an aim to recruiting and facilitating the admission and entry of BIPOC students into the HK programs; and
- ensuring that speakers in the alumni and research speaker series will show the diversity of alumni and other researchers in the field.
These moves are in addition to the work coaches, staff, and faculty members have taken upon themselves to start conversations, bring in speakers, and address the difficult subject of systemic racism.
Milne is thankful to have had kinesiology professor Victoria Paraschak and Lancer Recreation co-ordinator Sandra Ondracka, co-chairs of the Human Kinetics Equity Committee, as mentors during his time as a student and now as a faculty member.
“Even before the events of 2020, Vicky and Sandra have been leaders in this fight, and their notable initiatives in 2019 included screening Soul on Ice: Past, Present, and Future, detailing the history of Black athletes in ice hockey in North America, commemorating the achievements of the Chatham Coloured All-Stars in a plaque that hangs at the door to our largest lecture hall, and hosting a traditional Indigenous blanket exercise that was attended by almost all of the faculty and staff in HK,” Milne notes.
He acknowledges that “What we’re doing is not going to end racism,” but says the group hopes its efforts will help to attract more students, faculty, and coaches from the BIPOC communities.
“When any student looks for a welcoming place to study or play sports or recreate, the Faculty of Human Kinetics wants to be that destination.”