Statement from the GSA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee on Latjor Tuel

Disclaimer: Please be advised that the following content may be distressing for some due to communication of recent events and discussion of ongoing mistreatment of racialized peoples. 

The University of Calgary Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee is committed to advocating on behalf of equity-seeking groups, amplifying their voices, and bringing awareness to issues that are important to graduate students. We extend our support in solidarity to the University of Calgary Black graduate students’ community (Statement from the UCalgary’s Black Law Students’ Association on Latjor Tuel), which continues to be directly impacted by police brutality and anti-Black racism on a local and global landscape. 

Recent local events have brought into question ongoing issues of systemic racism. On February 19, 2022, Sudanese immigrant Latjor Tuel (41 years old), during mental distress, was fatally shot by police in Calgary, AB. Note: This investigation is ongoing. As graduate students, we must question all systems which perpetuate discrimination, violence and brutality towards racialized peoples. We recognize that some might not agree with our statement. We do, however, encourage these conversations amidst challenging times and issues, while noting that support for racialized peoples must not only take place during local and global protests. To learn more about the history of police violence against marginalized and racialized persons in this city, see: Burden To Bear Episode 1 (Calgary Herald, 2020a), Burden To Bear Episode 2 (Calgary Herald, 2020b), and Police brutality in Calgary: Who holds officers accountable? (CBC Docs, 2020).  

We recognize the complexity of this case, and also that Black Canadians face many barriers to accessing the mental healthcare system, including systemic inequity and disadvantage, longer wait times, poor access to practitioners, lack of representation, financial barriers, stigma, and other challenges. For more information, see: Mental Health and the Black narrative – breaking down barriers (Government of Canada, 2022).

We also acknowledge that continual disparity in media coverage and incidents of police brutality and racism in Canada and globally directly impact Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities at disproportionate rates, and is frequently ignored by Western discourse and the Global North. For more information, see: Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics (Tolley, 2015).

We stand in solidarity with Black communities in Calgary and beyond. We must denounce systemic racism in all its forms then and now. 

If you would like to learn more about systemic racism, consider the following:

Acknowledge the continual existence and sustainment of racism within our society. To learn more about Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, see: Building a Foundation for Change.

Reflect upon your social position and perspectives. To explore your social standing, see: Privilege Checklist

Educate yourself about the ongoing issues of racism and discrimination. For more resources, see: An Anti-Racism Reading List (Penguin Random House Canada, 2022), and Race and Social Equality Resources (Calgary Public Library, 2020).

Advocate on behalf of yourself and others. This might be easier said than done, but know that no act is too small. 

Donate to anti-racism organizations like Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and mental health organizations like Black Mental Health Canada.

Know your rights! For more information, see: Alberta Human Rights Act

For resources on mental health support, see the following:

If you would like to contact the GSA EDI Committee, please email us at edi.gsa@ucalgary.ca.

Land Acknowledgement

As part of our professional commitment to truth and (re)conciliation, we recognize that the University of Calgary is situated in the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprising the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.

References

Calgary Herald. (2020a, November 30). Burden To Bear Episode 1 (Racism in Calgary: A Special Series) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tv758n0rg2s

Calgary Herald. (2020b, December 1). Burden To Bear Episode 2 (Racism in Calgary: A Special Series) [Video]. YouTube.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjpJSRSPrdw 

Calgary Public Library. (2020, June 2). Race and Social Equality Resources. https://calgarylibrary.ca/library-news/race-and-social-equality-resources

CBS Doc. (2020, July 16). Police brutality in Calgary: Who holds officers accountable? CBC Docs POV. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQIm5VLFptY 

Government of Canada. (2022, February 24). Mental Health and the Black narrative – breaking down barriers. https://www.canada.ca/en/government/system/digital-government/living-digital/mental-health-black-narrative-breaking-down-barriers.html

Penguin Random House Canada. (2022). An Anti-Racism Reading List. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/list/1779/anti-racist-reading-list

Tolley, E. (2015). Framed: Media and the Coverage of Race in Canadian Politics. UBC Press.