Message from the CEWIL Board - June 2021

June is a time to celebrate new beginnings, and as spring comes to a close, the promise of summer is on the doorstep. Many institutions are celebrating their graduates’ successes through convocations and the excitement of one door closing while many more open.

June is also a time to celebrate a Canada committed to valuing diversity and inclusion. June recognizes National Indigenous History Month as an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about, appreciate and acknowledge the outstanding and lengthy contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people to our society. As educational institutions in this country, it also serves as a reminder of the 94 calls to action through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Tomorrow, June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day, CEWIL encourages all its members to take time during the day to continue to educate yourselves in Indigenous history and how you can incorporate this knowledge into your life and to that of the students you interact with.

June also embraces Pride Month – recognition of the inherent rights and freedoms of members of our LGBTQIA2+ community - to authentically be themselves, without prejudice or fear.  June is a time to reflect upon, and celebrate, the value that every member of Canadian society brings to the rich fabric of our country.  

We know there is still much to be done to ensure Canada is fully inclusive.  We must respect the diversity of everyone - each person’s unique narrative and viewpoint – to fully value the contributions that each individual brings to our communities. Over the past couple of weeks, we have been heartbroken to learn of the discovery of the unmarked graves containing the bodies of hundreds of children at multiple residential schools. We witnessed an Islamic family targeted, and killed, solely based on their personal faith. These incidents shocked us and highlighted the work that we, as Canadians, need to do to create a society that is safe and welcoming for all. We must continue to acknowledge the mistakes and harms of the past, to learn and to proactively work towards creating a society where each of us, regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation or religion, can feel accepted, embraced and celebrated. 

CEWIL Canada is a signatory to the 50/30 Challenge which is an initiative to improve access for women, racialized persons including Black Canadians, people who identify as LGBTQIA2+, people living with disabilities, as well as First Nations, Inuit and Métis to positions of influence and leadership on corporate boards and in senior management.  The goal of the program is to increase the representation and inclusion of diverse groups within Canadian organizations, while highlighting the benefits of giving all Canadians a seat at the table.  The CEWIL Canada community continues to learn and unlearn important lessons in equity, diversity and inclusion through learning and development initiatives, difficult conversations and individual reflections. In the coming weeks, CEWIL will be engaging an EDI special advisor to support our efforts in becoming a more inclusive and equitable national organization for all our stakeholders.

As many of you may be taking time for yourselves to relax and recharge your batteries, know that CEWIL Canada will continue to take the time to work on these strategic initiatives, will continue to listen, learning from others’ perspectives and sharing best practices with our membership.