Acknowledging and acting against anti-Black racism

To the U of T Engineering community

I have seen the pain, anguish and frustration of protesters and demonstrators across the U.S., Canada and around the world. Though this past week’s action against anti-Black racism was sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody, and by the circumstances surrounding the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet here in Toronto, I acknowledge that it reflects grief and anger propagated by centuries of systemic and institutionalized racism and oppression.

I empathize with the pain, both acute and accumulated over generations, felt by Black communities right now. At the bottom of this message I am sharing some resources that are providing Black-specific supports, both with the University and off campus, along with upcoming events for those who seek to learn more about anti-Black racism and how to operate in solidarity.

You have heard me say before that discrimination and anti-Black racism has no place in our Faculty. Equity, diversity and inclusivity are core values here in U of T Engineering, and critical to the engineering enterprise. These words are genuine — but they remain words until they are actions.

We can take action as individuals — especially those of us who identify as White, non-Black or non-Indigenous. You also received a message from our Faculty’s Engineering Equity Diversity & Inclusivity Action Group that outlines three specific actions each of us can take right away: attend an upcoming session from U of T’s Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO); join the next Open Conversation event on addressing anti-Black racism & unpacking active allyship on June 18; and following the recommendations of the Black Students Association, advocate for change and help the Black community during this time with actions including signing petitions and making donations.

It is also our responsibility to take action as a Faculty, and the Black Inclusion Steering Committee identified many areas of need in its final report. These are a few examples of concrete changes we are working towards in the short term:

  • Opening more effective channels, through the office of the Assistant Dean & Director, Diversity, Inclusion and Professionalism, to allow the U of T Engineering community to bring forward equity concerns and incidences of racism they experience or witness. Once an incident is disclosed, the Faculty will ensure that next steps are acted upon as guided by institutional polices such as the Code of Student Conduct and the guidelines to raise concerns on Prohibited Discrimination and Discriminatory Harassment for students and employees of the University.
  • Collecting more demographic data and race-based data in particular, giving us a benchmark understanding of the composition of the U of T Engineering prospective and current community, and a starting point to identify strategies for improved access and inclusion going forward.
  • Broadly sharing our experiences and strategies University-wide to foster more collaborative efforts that further inclusive policies and processes.
  • Including more Black speakers in existing Faculty and Department speaker series or launch a dedicated Faculty-run series to elevate the voices of Black engineers and academics within engineering and engineering education.
  • Following through with our commitment to deliver an academic enrichment initiative this summer for Black secondary school students, pivoting the Blueprint program to an online and accessible format.

Our work is ongoing to address barriers to access, success and inclusion for current and prospective Black students, staff and faculty. More actions will be need to stop anti-Black racism and to improve Black representation within U of T Engineering. We must continue to act quickly, and persistently — we must continue to hold ourselves accountable.


Christopher Yip
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering
University of Toronto

If you are a Black student, staff or faculty member seeking additional supports, these may be helpful resources:

Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office

Provides support to students, staff and faculty across the three campuses. The Office engages collaboratively with stakeholders on campus to enable the University’s academic mission through the integration of its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusivity.

Race & Healing: Black lives. Black Grief. Black Healing.

Friday, June 5 (10:00am – 12:00pm)
Open to persons who identify as being members of the Black community only 

Connections & Conversations

Last Wednesday of each month, 12:15pm – 1:15pm

Open to U of T staff who identify as being members of racialized communities

National Society of Black Engineers U of T Chapter

A safe space for students

Across Boundaries 
Across Boundaries provides equitable, inclusive and holistic mental health and addiction services for racialized communities within an anti-racism, anti-Black racism and anti-oppression frameworks.

Black Counsellors, Social Workers and Therapists in Ontario listed by Psychology Today

Black Therapists Directory compiled by Therapy For Black Girls — Toronto Grassroots Edition

BlackLine 24/7 Hotline (1 (800) 604-5841)
BlackLine provides a space for peer support and counseling, reporting of mistreatment, and affirming the lived experiences to folxs who are most impacted by systematic oppression with an LGBTQ+ Black Femme Lens.

Black Legal Action Centre
A non-profit community legal clinic that provides free legal services for low or no income Black residents of Ontario

Black Lives Matter Toronto Legal Resource List

Caribbean African Canadian Social Services

CAFCAN is a not-for-profit agency whose primary focus is on building and strengthening the service framework for African Canadians through the use of psycho-social Interventional approaches.

TAIBU Community Health Centre

TAIBU Community Health Centre (CHC) is a multidisciplinary, non-for-profit, community led organization established to serve the Black Community across the Greater Toronto Area as its priority population.

The Black Health Alliance

The Black Health Alliance is a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada.

Women’s Health in Women’ Hands Community Health Centre
Provides primary healthcare to racialized women from the African, Black, Caribbean, Latin American and South Asian communities in Toronto and surrounding municipalities.

Contact 211 for other supports for Black communities

Everyone is welcome at the following upcoming events and to take action:

Let’s Talk Allyship and Solidarity

June 9, 10.00am-11.30am

Open to UofT students, staff, faculty, librarians, chaplains, and community

Talking about Racism at Home

June 11, 10.00am-11.30am

Open to UofT students, staff, faculty, librarians, chaplains, and community 

EEDIAG Open Conversation:  Addressing anti-Black Racism & Unpacking Active Allyship

June 18 12.00pm-2.00pm

Open to UofT Engineering students, staff, faculty, librarians, and community

U of T Black Students’ Association

List of actions you can take