June 3, 2020

The OCAD Faculty Association (OCADFA) unequivocally condemns all forms of violence against Black persons and communities in Toronto, across Canada, the United States, the Americas, and beyond. These forms of violence are physically harmful, psychically damaging, often lethal, and continuously traumatizing to Black communities.  State-sanctioned violence is part of the systemic violence that materially disenfranchises Black and Indigenous people, and is a contemporary function of colonialism in the world today. In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the conditions that allow systemic and material violence to disproportionately affect Black persons and communities have been exacerbated. 

Our shared work to resist anti-Black violence follows from the intellectual, emotional & creative labours of Black artists, designers, writers, curators, illustrators, filmmakers, and cultural producers.  They form a critical part of our collective learning environment as students, faculty, and professional staff. 

OCADFA stands in solidarity with the family and community of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. We join the call for a full, public, and completely independent investigation into accounts by Korchinski-Paquet’s family denouncing police mishandling of the situation, resulting in her tragic death. OCADFA stands in solidarity with the demands for justice for George Floyd, and for an end to state-sanctioned violence against Black & Indigenous persons, and people â€‹who are racialized and criminalized.

As a Faculty Association, we support the joint message from OCAD U’s President and VP Academic and Provost condemning anti-Black racism.  We take this expression of solidarity further, to include systemic actions that can prevent and help stop all forms of anti-Black violence in Toronto and across Ontario. 

We call for a redistribution of resources that redirects the exorbitant funds currently allocated to policing and criminalizing Black, Indigenous and racialized persons and communities in the city of Toronto. We advocate for the creation, expansion, and maintenance of healthcare resources that can support the physical and mental wellbeing of persons and communities affected by anti-Black racism, and other forms of discrimination, particularly in light of funding cuts by the Ontario Provincial Government. We advocate for affordable access to education for our students, and sustainable working conditions for cultural professionals working within and beyond OCAD U. In this context the fight against anti-Black racism can happen in a healthy and sustained manner.

Statements of solidarity, while important, are not enough.  We commit ourselves as educators, artists, designers and researchers to challenging institutional racism that perpetuates inequality in our practices, curriculum, departments and classrooms.  We will connect this creative and intellectual work to the broader struggle for social justice in our communities, as we know education is a pathway to liberation.

Acknowledging that the university stands on the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat, we make these calls in the spirit of OCAD U’s commitment to work towards decolonizing its teaching and learning, and in full conscience of its continued work to Indigenize ways of knowing and making culture. 

In Solidarity,

The Ontario College of Art & Design University Faculty Association (OCADFA)

OCAD University, Toronto, Canada

Resources:

 Justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet Fund

Defunding the Police Will Save Black and Indigenous Lives in Canada

Black Organizations And Anti-Racist Groups Canadians Can Support Now