Statement of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Decolonization, and Indigenization

In general, I have ambivalence about the role of the “statement” when it comes to key issues like equity, diversity, inclusion, decolonization, and Indigenization; I hope that my work speaks to my commitment to these critical areas. Rather than a statement of ideals, then, I want to use this space to share concrete actions I have undertaken at TRU in support of these goals. Some of the items here are also listed in the body of the two dossiers, typically with more framing and context, but the focus in this section is on how these items fulfil my personal and professional goals towards social justice.

Prior to arriving at TRU, I prioritized diversity and representation in my course development and social justice in my course policies; two examples of my syllabi are available in my Portfolio of Materials [D.4.1].

Equity and Diversity

Citational Practice and Recommended Resources: I adopt a practice of citational justice in my work, which means I seek to highlight undercited and systematically excluded scholars in my scholarship and workshops.[1] This idea comes from my scholarly background but is a key part of how I practice in this role. Citational justice in my work is most seen in the Digital Detox that I produce annually, where I make an effort to include a broad range of scholars and scholarship, but it also extends to how I select recommended resources for our LT&I workshops.

Activism: In May 2020, when the protests after the execution of George Floyd reached the academy, I retooled our summer workshops so that every session began with a discussion of anti-racist education and the sharing of a curated list of anti-racist teaching tools and resources that I prepared. On 10 September 2020, OL Designer Nicole Singular helped me to black-out the LT&I homepage in solidarity with the international Scholar Strike movement and particularly to coincide with the Scholar Strike Canada day of action; we replaced the homepage with a statement I wrote about the complicity of educational technologies in racist oppression.

Amplifying Voices and Building Conversation: I use the You Got This! podcast that I produce to amplify voices across our community, but I am specifically committed to celebrating members of the TRU community who also represent equity-seeking groups. For example, 7 of the 24 feature interviews in Season 2, or 29%, were with staff and students of colour. This is a significant and intentional improvement over Season 1, where only 7% of featured interviews were with staff and students of colour. I am committed to expanding the range of voices heard on You Got This! with every season.

I also very intentionally use You Got This! to create a space for the discussion of complex issues related to social justice. For example, in Season 2 we aired episodes about sexual and anti-Indigenous harassment allegations at TRU, about suicide intervention and care, and about DEI practices.

Personal Speaking Policy: As my profile as a scholar has grown in the last few years, I have recently implemented a personal speaking policy that centres diversity and inclusion: I ask that prospective bookers be prepared to share the equity and diversity plans for their event, and I note that I do not agree to speak at inaccessible events or on all-white, non-diverse panels and speaker slates. Following the philosophy of “nothing about us without us,” I, for example, will not speak on accessibility topics without disabled scholars present. I also reserve the right to withdraw my commitment to a talk if the event sponsors do not align with my values. These practices are now listed on my personal speaking engagement information site.


Digital Equity: When the Covid-19 pandemic began and we switch to remote delivery, I became very concerned about the options for learners living in remote communities or unable to afford reliable internet for access to their courses. All of the materials I developed for the pivot advocated for instructors to remember those learners in their course design: create asynchronous learning opportunities; offer a multi-day window for assignment submission; limit use of video in favour of audio, text, and other low-bandwidth options; allow for videos to be off in synchronous learning environments, etc. For example, one workshop I created offered faculty three alternatives to the video lecture format.

In April of 2020, I was also the first person on campus to systematically review barriers to student access during the pandemic by asking them about their experiences. With the survey based on a set of questions recommended by EDUCAUSE, I used the data collected to draft an interim report [D.4.15] on the pivot and how it had been supported, giving a high-level overview of the commentary as well as a series of recommendations. This report was circulated to Deans and Directors for their information and presented to the Academic Computing and Technology Advisory Committee, the Teaching and Learning Committee of Senate, and the Student Success Committee of Senate. I also had the opportunity to use the data in this report to brief the then-CIO, Maggie Fung, on digital divide issues (eg. the number of students without an adequate device or without adequate internet access at home). I compiled the data again [D.4.16] in December of 2020.

In 2020, I also attended two professional development sessions addressing issues of digital inequity, particularly in the BC student context.

Digital equity is also a major theme of the TRU Digital Detox every year.

Accessibility: Centring access has been a core component of the work I have done on the Learning Technology and Innovation team. Some examples:

  • When we adopted Kaltura for video, my testing uncovered an issue that made the captioning function nearly unusable (there was too much text per screen, both obscuring the visuals of the video and making the text too small to read). After I detailed the problem extensively, LT&I and BCNet were able to resolve this issue for all users in the province.
  • Every episode of You Got This! is what I call day-one accessible, meaning that the transcripts are released alongside the episodes every week, and posted in two formats (.docx and .pdf) in order to maximize the range of screen readers and accessibility tools that they can be used with.
  • Three episodes of You Got This! specifically address accessibility practice and Universal Design for Learning (although it is part of many episodes): an episode about designing for inclusion and the return to campus; an episode about accommodations; and an episode about designing for access.

In 2001, I gave a paper at the Canadian Society for Studies in Higher Education conference called, ““How Can We Help?: The Educational Technologist as Accessibility Activist,” which posited the importance of learning technologists in training faculty to use technology accessibly first, rather than treating accessible pedagogies as add-ons.

Student Voices: In many teaching and learning circles, student voices go largely unheard. I have prioritized student issues on You Got This!, with 29% of Season 2 interviews featuring students. This is an increase from 14% of interviews featuring students in Season 1, and I am committed to continuing to increase the number of students heard on You Got This!

Decolonization and Indigenization

As Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang[2] remind us, decolonization is not a metaphor. When we talk about decolonization and Indigenization in the context of a colonial institution like a university, I think it is important to be honest about what we mean. As Adam Gaudry and Danielle Lorenz note:

We conclude that despite using a language of reconciliation, in practical terms the Canadian academy still largely focuses on policies of inclusion. In contrast, Indigenous faculty, staff, students and their allies are much more likely to envision a fundamental and decolonial shift.[3]

I hope that I am an ally to my Indigenous colleagues in this critical work, but I don’t know that I can claim to be, in Gaudry and Lorenz’s terms, doing work that moves beyond the level of inclusion. I certainly embrace the presence of Indigenous scholars and learners and I work to do things like make my territorial acknowledgments meaningful and to include them not as a rote exercise but as part of the work of the session in process. But I am a learner in this space, and I seek in my role primarily to amplify the conversations and contributions of my Indigenous colleagues, and to ensure that I build space for this work in everything I undertake.

Professional and Personal Development: In Fall 2020, I participated as a learner in the BCcampus-funded program “Pulling Together: Fall Indigenous Series.” This six-week workshop series offered an Indigenization and decolonization strategy guide for academic leaders or those who aspire to academic leadership. One of the key take-aways from this course for me was the responsibility I have in my role to ensure space is safe for story and for multiple ways of knowing and being; one concrete way I have implemented this is to ask questions of any open scholarship projects that I am part of to ensure that all stakeholders consent to the same meaning of open and have meaningful opportunities to opt out where appropriate. I have continued to reach out to people who took this course with me for guidance and collegial discussion of issues related to decolonization practice.

I also attended a session on Indigenous approaches to academic integrity discourse in 2020.

Amplifying Voices: I have used the You Got This! project to amplify discussion of key issues of Indigenization at TRU, including a conversation about the Knowledge Makers project and a discussion of how to better support Indigenous distance learners.

Technical Support for Indigenous Initiatives: I have had the pleasure of being technical and design support for both Ombaashi and the Knowledge Makers project, including helping with WordPress training and design troubleshooting. This also extended to helping the Knowledge Makers team conceive of how to move their annual meeting fully online during the remote learning period. More recently, I also helped to train Mukwa Musayett’s MEd students in podcasting skills as they worked to develop the “Privileging Oral Traditions” podcast project.

[1] Kwon. “The rise of citational justice: how scholars are making references fairer.” Nature 603 (2022): 568-571.

[2] Tuck and Yang, “Decolonization is not a metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1.1 (2012): 1-40.

[3] Gaudry and Lorenz. “Indigenization as inclusion, reconciliation, and decolonization: navigating the different visions for indigenizing the Canadian Academy.” AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples 14.3 (2018).