From Nov. 16-20, UVic’s 5 Days of Action presented a wide range of insightful workshops and virtual engagement sessions with UVic President Kevin Hall. Each day has an associated theme: listen, reflect, dialogue, engage, and solidarity. Alongside the workshops, each day also featured a curated list of podcasts, movies, and books to allow for further engagement.
This is the third-annual 5 Days of Action UVic has held. This year’s virtual format still brings people together, says Dewis, and allows more students to get involved. Although previous years saw excellent involvement from staff and faculty, a key focus this year was to encourage more student involvement.
Cassabrea Dewis, the executive director of UVic’s Equity and Human Rights office (EQHR), said this year’s workshops present a timely opportunity to discuss crucial themes around racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. EQHR has seen a dramatic increase in requests for EQHR’s anti-racism training. Whereas last year’s average was about one training session per week, this year they have held two training sessions per day.
The 5 Days of Action, Dewis said, is one way EQHR aims to continue conversations around systemic change.
“Part of our goal with 5 Days of Action…is trying to find people across campus who are doing all sorts of anti-oppression work and highlight how much is both being done and needing to be done across those intersections [of oppression].”
One particular panel with the Students of Colour Collective had around 50 people participants. The panel featured Pamphinette Buisa, Karissa Chandrakate, Alfredo Garcia and Charity Williams. It was moderated by Dominique Jacobs. The panelists discussed the challenges and necessity of social activism during the pandemic. Dewis said she was particularly inspired by the students on the panel, who continue to do substantial activism work alongside their degrees.
Another session featured Indigenous artist and Audain Professor Carey Newman. Newman discussed a recent totem pole carving project he did in partnership with Oaklands Elementary School.
Aside from the workshops, each of the 5 Days of Action also featured a virtual engagement with Hall. The virtual engagement sessions are meant to allow the university community to offer feedback.
Until Friday Nov 20, students can add their feedback to any of the engagement questions posted throughout the 5 Days of Action. This feedback will be used to help develop the university’s new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) framework.
Dewis explained that the new framework will build off the existing Employment Equity Plan.
“[The EDI framework] won’t focus only on employment equity, but on structural and institutional equity,” Dewis said. She added that it will include student’s experiences and how those relate to equity, diversity and inclusion.
Whether through 5 Days of Action, anti-racism training, or the EDI Framework, their goal is to enact meaningful changes in the campus community.
The 5 Days of Action schedule and links to the president’s virtual engagement feedback sites are available on UVic’s website.