The tragic death of George Floyd and others at the hands of the police has inspired widespread protest in the United States and around the world. These demonstrations speak to systemic racism and entrenched injustice in many societies, including ours. Here in Canada, we, too, must recognize that Black, racialized, and Indigenous people suffer discrimination, abuse and violence at levels and in ways that do not square with the promises and ambitions of our society. The coronavirus pandemic has starkly illuminated the many ways in which the benefits and burdens we purportedly share as a society are in reality, inequitably distributed. It must also amplify our awareness — and our sense of urgency. We cannot wait to work toward something better.
The Daniels community stands in solidarity with all those who are seeking a just society without discrimination. Today, we need to ask: how does our work connect to what is a long struggle for human rights, and how can we help break the cycle of discrimination? We have an obligation to listen, learn, and act.
We work with the built and natural environments, where politics, cultural values, and social privileges are inscribed and perpetuated in the form of our cities and landscapes. Upholding these values and privileges in an unexamined way often results in unfair or misdirected forms of social and environmental investment and stewardship. Our school — and our disciplines more generally — must develop a stronger voice around issues of social welfare, justice, and racial equality. We must create and promote more democratic forms of planning and design.
Among the concrete actions that we know create systemic change are pedagogical reform, recruiting students and faculty from communities and social classes that are not well represented in our disciplines, and making our spaces — both real and virtual — more accessible. We are committed to reviewing and improving our efforts on these fronts.
The University of Toronto, and the Daniels Faculty, already have structures in place to address these issues in meaningful ways. These include the Daniels Diversity and Equity Committee, and our student organizations. Through further dialogue other platforms and processes will emerge. We have work to do.
Dean, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism
on behalf of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design