Message from the Dean, Dianne Gereluk, Werklund School of Education

Racial inequality: We can, must, and will do better

Over the past number of days, I have watched in sadness and horror at the senseless taking of yet another Black life, and by those tasked with protecting the public. Appalling is the pattern of injustice against Black lives, the systemic racism and the discrimination that is prevalent both locally and internationally.  We in Canada are not immune to these offenses; rather, we have much to consider and reason to act.

This is a time for each of us to reflect deeply about our behaviours, our words, and our actions. As educators, our call is to cultivate the dispositions of our children to live together in a cohesive society despite differences in our political or religious beliefs, our socioeconomic status, ethnicity or race.  It is our ethical responsibility to create that space for all children and students in our learning environments, and in our communities. It is a moral imperative that we challenge and transform systems that prevent the flourishing of any child. We must seek ways to address long-standing inequities.

At the Werklund School of Education, we have sought to develop programs that prepare educators to work towards a more just and equitable world.  Through our Master of Education Socially Just Schools and Communities and Call to Action certificates, faculty and students interrogate historical and ongoing societal inequities and look to create deliberate paths to healing, reconciliation, and justice.  Through courses such as Diversity in Learning, Indigenous Education, Comprehensive School Health, and multiple service-learning opportunities, our students are challenged to broaden their perspectives in how they engage people with different lived experiences.

The vision of the Werklund School of Education is Bettering humanity through education and psychology. The values underpinning this include our commitment to social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.    

Let us commit to this vision and these values in our daily actions.  Let us support those who may feel vulnerable, who feel unsafe, and who face systemic injustice on a regular basis.  Let us be role models for our children and students who are watching and listening.  Let us help them become empowered, provide space for their voices, and hope that we can create a society with respect for our common humanity.  Let us recognize that we can and must do better, and then commit ourselves to this.

As Dean of the Werklund School of Education, I commit to ensure that as a faculty:

  • all individuals feel included on our campus and in our faculty;
  • we continue to elevate discussions that challenge the historical and present forms of systemic discrimination and racism;
  • we act as allies to support and advocate for those who may have less voice and agency – and as allies, we will speak with courage and conviction when it is our turn to speak, and we will listen openly when it is our role to listen;
  • we embed the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion in robust and meaningful ways in our research, teaching, and service.

This is a defining moment in history. Let us be able to say that we were part of a movement that came together in our common collective voice toward a more humane, more just, and more compassionate world.