Statement on Anti-racism, Indigenization, and Decolonization

The Department of English Language and Literature department recognizes that the land upon which we teach and learn at Brock University is the traditional territory of Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee people, many of whom continue to live, work, and study here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement. Today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendship of Indigenous people.

With these particular words, we honour the members of the Aboriginal Education Council at Brock University who have suggested this text to members of the Brock community. Their work in crafting the statement has resulted in its proliferation across campus, on syllabuses and websites, committee meetings, and other gatherings, and it has engendered important conversations about the power, the importance, and the limits of the territorial acknowledgement as one mechanism of decolonization and indigenization on campus.

We also recognize that the land on which we teach and learn is situated in a global context in which Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Water Protectors, 2SLGBTQ+ Pride, the Disability Rights Movement (to name only a few) have made it clear that not all lives have mattered equally.  Fostering “a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization,” as stated in the Brock Strategic Plan, requires that we, as an English Department, acknowledge and work to redress canonical histories of English Studies that have positioned the field in complicity with racist, classist, ableist, and sexist forms of colonialism, language and cultural imperialism, nation building, and white fragility. Such positions precipitate logics that render Other lives precarious, and they work to keep English Studies “so-white” by marginalizing and/or appropriating non-hegemonic critical, literary, rhetorical, and/or creative work. Our department, as a whole, is committed to challenging these histories, positions and practices with all of the critical, pedagogical, and administrative strategies available to us.

Thus, we work toward the wider goal of transforming the professoriate and the discipline in at least the following ways: by advocating for the hiring and retention of BIPOC faculty (with the support of the University administration); exploring the creation of English specific scholarships for both undergrad and graduate BIPOC students, making certain that mechanisms are in place to support these students both during and after their degrees in the pursuit of employment, community engagement, and advanced degrees; establishing sustainable recruitment tactics in both undergraduate and graduate levels to increase the number of BIPOC students completing their degrees in this English department; working to be sure that course offerings reflect the historical and contemporary diversity of critical, rhetorical, and literary discourse production in English Studies; and by periodically assessing the extent to which we have followed through with these goals.

Human Rights and Equity Resources at Brock