Dear OCADFA members,

OCADFA joins the other Faculty Associations across the GTA, the Executives of the  University of Toronto Faculty Association and the Ryerson Faculty Association and the York Faculty Association in supporting Scholar Strike Canada.

Scholar Strike for Black Lives in Canada will take place on Sept 9th & 10th, 2020.  For these two days, we will pause our teaching and all administrative duties.  We will use this time to organize public digital teach-ins on police brutality and violence in our communities from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

Below is the statement that was released this morning. I, along with OCAD University colleagues, Andrea Fatona and Tannis Nielsen worked with faculty across our four campuses to co-author a statement that I hope you consider signing too. 

You can join #ScholarStrikeCanada through this page

In solidarity,

Min Sook Lee

President, OCADFA


Scholars across Canadian universities are outraged at the relentless anti-Black police killings of Black people in the U.S. and in Canada. As athletes have done, so, too, must academics.   We will be joining thousands of academics in higher education in a labour action known as Scholar Strike to protest anti-Black, racist and colonial police brutality in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. Scholar Strike for Black Lives in Canada will take place on Sept 9th & 10th, 2020.  For these two days, we will pause our teaching and all administrative duties.  We will use this time to organize public digital teach-ins on police brutality and violence in our communities from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

We recognize the precarious labour status of many of our colleagues in academia, and we invite university workers to participate in this labour action as much as you are able to engage.  Some will not be able to participate fully, but there are many ways to engage with this protest, from amplifying the message on social media to using the digital public teach-ins during class time.

In the midst of the current pandemic we have seen and read of police shootings, maimings and murders in the U.S.:  Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade.  In Canada, D’Andre Campbell, Rodney Levi, Ejaz Choudry, Chantel Moore and the lack of transparency and police accountability in the death of Regis Korchinski Paquet.

Scholar Strike originated in the U.S from a tweet by Dr. Anthea Butler who, inspired by the striking WNBA and NBA players, put out a call for a similar labour action from academics.   The Canadian action is aligned with the one in the U.S., in its call for racial justice, an end to anti-Black police violence and it adds a specific focus on anti-Indigenous, colonial violence.  

Scholar Strike is a labour action/teach-in/social justice advocacy happening on September 9-10, 2020. September 9 & 10 were chosen as the dates of the Scholar Strike in Canada because, for many of us, the academic year begins on these dates. These days were also chosen because of their proximity to Labour Day.

The program of public digital teach-ins through Sept 9 & 10 and other relevant resources will be released soon. We have confirmed a key note address by journalist and activist Desmond Cole and cross-campus digital teach-ins that will bring together activists, artists and scholars from York University, University of Toronto, Ryerson University and OCAD University.

As Canadian scholars we cannot ignore the anti-Black and anti-Indigenous police brutality and violence that continue to destroy the lives of Black, Indigenous and racialized peoples.  Many of the Black, Indigenous and racialized academics who work in Canadian universities are precariously employed; hired on only part-time or short-term contracts.  The few that have been hired into full-time faculty and staff positions have found it difficult to remain in those jobs, they have either been fired or laid off because of institutional racism and other forms of violence in the university. 

We affirm protestors, workers for social justice, and activists who are crucial to making our communities safer and better.  State-sanctioned violence is part of the systemic violence that materially disenfranchises Black, Indigenous and racialized people, and is a contemporary function of slavery, carcerality and 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 intellectuals, activists, scientists, artists, designers, writers, poets, curators, illustrators, filmmakers, and cultural producers.  They form a critical part of our collective learning environment as students, faculty, and professional staff. 

We are asking University Administrators to support scholars, librarians, and other staff, and not penalize those who choose to participate.

Statements of solidarity, while important, are not enough. We must commit ourselves as scholars, artists, writers, poets, designers and researchers to actively ending all forms of racist, carceral, institutional and systemic forms of violence.

  • We must support the demands for defunding the police and redistributing those resources to Black, Indigenous, racialized, queer and trans communities for the creation of sustainable and healthy communities. 
  • We must support demands to remove campus police.  All agreements between policing institutions and universities must be rescinded.
  • We must address the historic and current underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous faculty (full and part-time) in all Canadian institutions and press University Administrations to prioritize the urgency of these faculty hires.
  • We commit to supporting meaningful efforts to recruit, admit, retain and mentor Black, Indigenous and racialized undergraduate and graduate students.
  • We must support the campaign by CUPE 3261 to stop the University of Toronto from contracting out caretaking services thereby relinquishing its responsibility to safeguard secure and suitable paying jobs and health and safety of workers
  • We must advocate for the creation, expansion, and maintenance of mental health and health care resources for students at our universities.
  • We must support the demand for affordable education, sustainable jobs and housing for students and cultural professionals across all the universities. 

Acknowledging that Canada’s university campuses stand on the ancestral and traditional territories of Indigenous peoples, we make these calls in the spirit of our collective commitment to work towards liberating Black, Indigenous and transnational frameworks and knowledges, whilst actively working for a liberated global future.

Andrea Davis, Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities, York University
Andrea Fatona, Associate Professor, Faculty of Art, Graduate Studies, OCAD University
Beverly Bain, Lecturer, Woman and Gender Studies/Department of Historical Studies.  University of Toronto Mississauga Campus
Christina Sharpe, Professor, Department of Humanities, York University
Eve Haque, Associate Professor, Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, York University
Eve Tuck, Associate Professor, Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto
Idil Abdillahi, Assistant Professor, School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University
Kiké Roach, UNIFOR National Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University
Min Sook Lee, Associate Professor, Faculty of Art, OCAD University
Rinaldo Walcott, Professor, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto
Tannis Nielsen, Instructor, Faculty of Art, OCAD University