College investigation of the use of a racial slur by a guest speaker at George Brown

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Update on Human Rights Investigation into Racial Slur  

The Office of Anti-Racism, Equity and Human Rights Services (OAREHRS) has completed its formal investigation of a March 2023 incident where a guest speaker used the N-word during a classroom presentation. We recognize the hurt, distress, and disappointment it caused. We are committed to addressing the root causes while holding ourselves accountable and are taking proactive measures to create a learning environment that is safe and inclusive for everyone within our college community.  

Based on the investigation conducted by OAREHRS, the following remedies have been recommended and accepted by the college, including reinforcing policies; implementing guidelines on use of language and visuals; providing comprehensive training on discrimination, anti-Black racism and fostering inclusivity; and introducing a process for guest speakers to confirm they are aware of and will comply with our policies.     

Rebuilding trust and healing takes time; we will keep you informed on the development of new policies and guidelines with opportunities for input and feedback.  

March 16, 2023

George Brown College is aware of a disturbing and troubling incident involving the use of the N-word by a guest speaker who is not employed by the college during a classroom case study presentation yesterday.  

We acknowledge that giving embodied voice and life to the N-word and other racial slurs is completely unacceptable, inhumane and undermines efforts to create a safe and broadly supportive and inclusive learning environment. We condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms and are taking this matter extremely seriously. 

As soon as our college learned of the incident, College representatives were instructed to immediately launch a formal investigation by our Office of Anti-Racism, Equity and Human Rights (OAREHRS) to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to address this issue and prevent this from occurring in the future.  

This incident is harmful and can be a traumatizing experience for many of our students. We are connecting directly with the students from the class to provide any and all supports necessary and have made counselling support available through our Counselling and Student Well-being Team. Students may also connect with the Office of Anti-Racism, Equity and Human Rights (OAREHRS) to discuss this matter or make a complaint with a Human Rights Advisor.  

We have established in our Strategic Plan fundamental principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. We are taking concrete steps to combat anti-Black racism on campus, including ensuring our employees receive Anti-Racism training, implementing a comprehensive and ongoing college-wide Anti-Racism Action Plan and signing the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion. Consequently, it is disheartening when incidents such as this occur.  It further emphasizes the work our college and society must do to continually advance principles of equity and inclusion, as well as to recognize the harm done when these principles are not upheld.   

As an institution, we are deeply committed to confronting racism in all its forms, every day. We seek to foster a safe and respectful learning, teaching and working community that is animated by the principles of equity, diversity, mutual respect and accountability. I believe that all college community members have a right to study, live and work in a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment. I want to emphasize again that this incident is and was unacceptable, and we will continue to work tirelessly to build a safe and inclusive community for all our students and employees.  

Dr. Gervan Fearon,

President, George Brown College