We are committed to removing barriers that have been, and continue to be, encountered by equity seeking groups, including women, Indigenous peoples, visible/racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ+. As part of UCVM’s commitment to creating a safe, diverse, and inclusive environment for all students, faculty, and staff to learn and grow and to move us forward on this journey, the WIDE (Wellness, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity) Task Force was struck in early 2021. Co-chaired by Aylin Atilla and Saskia de Jong, the task force held a series of meetings and retreats with a working group to determine recommendations for UCVM’s Leadership Council.
- The Vision: to ensure a safe, effective, and inclusive working and learning environment and culture across the UCVM community.
- Mandate: to identify the major issues of concern, investigate root causes and recommend solutions.
The scope of the task force includes issues related to mental health and wellness, as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion, and how we support professional development no matter the career path or stage of career.
The issues will be explored as they relate to the entire UCVM community including DVM students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, managers, and non-academic staff including research associates and technicians, teaching support staff, faculty members in both the instructor and professorial streams, and DVLC members & adjunct faculty.
The findings and recommendations of the task force must consider and align with the UCVM Strategic Plan (2017-2022), as well as relevant UCalgary strategic plans, resources, and programs.
The task force comprises representatives from each stakeholder group and several working groups were created to focus on specific issues, allowing us to engage even more people in the process.
Task Force Recommendations
The guiding framework for the recommendations centers around refocusing on UCVM values (collegiality, empathy, diversity, respect, empowerment, integrity, wellness, passion for knowledge, and community service). The intent of the recommendations is to help all UCVM community members role model and uphold these values.
The recommendations listed below have been shared with UCVM’s Leadership Council for review and consideration. At this time, the task force is seeking feedback on the recommendations by hosting a townhall discussion and conducting a survey of faculty, students, staff, and other stakeholders.
Collect current anonymous demographic data with a commitment to ongoing collection of data.
- Who works and studies here? Who applies? Why?
- Review and revamp current admissions policies for DVM and graduate students as well as hiring policies for faculty and staff to be reviewed through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
- Consultation with BIPOC communities is essential as well as with main campus Indigenous engagement and EDI committees.
- Alignment with main campus policies
- More animal health related outreach opportunities and partnerships with Indigenous and local lower socio-economic communities. These could be further developed with collaboration and input from the Indigenous engagement and EDI offices on main campus and require long-term funding and infrastructure support from the DVM program office.
- Improve mental health care availability for our community by:
- Adopting the University of Calgary Campus Mental Health Strategy, and
- Creating a dedicated support system (e.g., office/ position/committee) to progress mental health and wellness (MHW)/ EDI initiatives at UCVM.
- Create a website for WIDE resources that is easily and clearly accessible to all of the UCVM community along with an internal newsletter.
- Create opportunities for structured internal events to enable more connection between disciplines/departments/units.
- Provide flexible work options for UCVM members enabling improved work life balance & mental health wellness.
- Implement regularly scheduled free time during business hours in the DVM curriculum.
Improve Individuals skills in dealing with EDI and mental health topics by:
- Mandated mental health and wellness, suicide prevention, anti-racism, bias, and inter-cultural training for all current and new UCVM community members (including BIPOC, religious affiliation, and LGBTQ2S+)
- Examples through main campus include The Working Mind, The Inquiring Mind, as well as suicide awareness and prevention training.
- Dr. William Yimbo was also hired specifically for EDI training through the main campus office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
- Incorporation of BIPOC perspectives within classes (graduate and DVM students). This could include dedicated sessions on anti-racism and Indigenous ways of knowing within the required Professional Skills courses for DVM and graduate students and/or transsystemic course delivery.
- Implementing ongoing professional development and EDI, mental health and wellness training activities and allocated time for all community members to take part in these activities/opportunities.
- Schedule events that focus on increasing intercultural knowledge.
Clearly identify and facilitate anonymous, confidential and safe reporting channels through main campus for all UCVM members to submit comments, concerns, complaints, or anonymous feedback on EDI and mental wellness issues.