The KPE Task Force was created in 2017. THEO ARBEZ/THE VARSITY

The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE) Task Force on Race and Indigeneity released its final report in response to the 2015 Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

In its December 4 report, the task force adopted three key terms — equity, diversity, and inclusion — from U of T’s Equity and Diversity in Research & Innovation Working Group Report.

‘Equity’ refers to the fair treatment of all people, regardless of their race or culture. While ‘diversity’ is described as a demographic mix in the community, it also focuses on groups that are underrepresented at  U of T. Combining these two terms is ‘inclusion,’ or an environment where everyone feels respected and valued.

The 12 operating members and four working groups sought to make recommendations to the faculty on how to address barriers that prevent racial diversity and equity.

The Task Force was, in part, formed in response to a panel held at U of T during the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games, which focused on the challenges of being an Indigenous athlete in Toronto.

It also responds to a report from the 2016 Accelerating Action Roundtable Discussion event that recommended five themes for the faculty to address.

This includes hiring racialized and Indigenous peoples, improving visibility and recognition of diversity in KPE spaces, improving outreach to underrepresented groups, increasing accountability around issues of race and Indigeneity, and expanding support and resources for Indigenization, racial diversity, and anti-racism.

The TRC report stated that the University of Toronto was responsible for acting with “destructive impacts” against Indigenous people. Although the university did not operate residential schools, it educated Canadians who later contributed to the creation of these schools.

Researchers from the university have also recently been accused of damaging Indigenous communities through research studies. The report concluded that because of past ignorance and mistreatment toward Indigenous people, the University of Toronto has been an unwelcome place for Indigenous students.

The task force’s report organizes the working groups’ recommendations into seven categories, “intended to be considered simultaneously and in total.”

Academics, curriculum and programming

This section’s main recommendation looks to create content on race and Indigeneity across the KPE curriculum. The task force also recommends that KPE develop and integrate a course solely based on Indigenous history, issues, racism, and racialization within sports and physical activity.

Communications

This section recommends that KPE maintain “an attractive and informative website that conveys the importance of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” The task force emphasizes further promotion of Indigenous opportunities, activities, conferences, and events, both on and off campus.

Data collection

The task force recommends that KPE collect demographic data on new staff members to keep track of recruitment success, thus identifying needed additional time spent on recruiting Indigenous students. A survey is also advised to identify any areas of improvement in regards to recruitment and retention of Indigenous staff.

Recruitment

The report further recommends offering financial benefits to prospective Indigenous students through scholarships, bursaries, and grants. Great emphasis was also placed on financial support for achieving equity and diversity on campus.

Relationships

This section specifically focuses on improving relationships between the KPE and Indigenous people through mentorships, coaching, and community resources in order to build a healthy and comfortable atmosphere.

Space

This focuses on developing designated spaces to accommodate any cultural practices for Indigenous students. The report goes on to say that faculty should also create barrier-free and accessible spaces that value Indigenous perspectives.

Training

This focuses heavily on decolonization and anti-racism training for staff and faculty. Recommendations also include opportunities to connect racialized and Indigenous students with the wider community.

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