President's Corner is a regular column from President Deep Saini.
Dear Dal Community,
As you know, African Heritage Month began this Monday, Feb. 1. We at Dalhousie are proud to recognize and celebrate the month with a series of virtual events happening throughout February.
This year’s theme at Dalhousie is Black Health Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act, and through this theme, we are all urged to both recognize barriers faced by People of African Descent and to work to remove them.
As we reflect on Black health and wellness, I want to acknowledge what an incredibly difficult time in our history this past year has been. We’ve witnessed a spate of unjust racial tragedies experienced by Black people in North America and on a global scale. These include health inequalities, police brutality, and environmental racism. We must step up and address the impacts these injustices have within our own community.
At Dalhousie, we have strong policies, established initiatives, and resources to support our community, as well as faculty, staff and students who have made and continue to make vital contributions. That said, we know we must do more and drive for continuous improvement to combat systemic anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination and intolerance. Dalhousie is fully committed to this path, as am I personally.
On Monday, we launched African Heritage Month with a virtual flag raising. If you weren’t able to tune in, you can watch it on Dalhousie’s YouTube channel. While I wish we could have marked this occasion in person as we normally would have, it is more important than ever to reaffirm Dalhousie’s commitment to supporting all People of African Descent in our community. Thank you to the African Heritage Month Planning Committee for coordinating the virtual flag raising, and other virtual events happening throughout the month.
Finally, if you haven’t yet had the opportunity, I hope you will take a few minutes to watch my most recent episode of The Deep Dive, where I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jalana Lewis, Dalhousie’s new director of African Nova Scotian community engagement, and Cathy Martin, our new director of Indigenous community engagement. Jalana and Cathy shared their experiences beginning these new roles during the pandemic; their visions for Dalhousie; and ideas about how our students, faculty and staff might strengthen their engagements with these communities.
This month, I hope you will join me in reflecting, celebrating, and acting. To learn more about Dalhousie and community events happening this month, please visit dal.ca/africanheritage.