The Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability is proud to stand in solidarity with UBC’s Black Student Union and all people protesting police violence against Black people in Canada and the United States.

IRES Statement of Solidarity

The IRES community categorically denounces the recent events of anti-Black racism and police brutality in North America. We denounce the excessive use of police and military force by the United States government against those protesting police brutality towards Black Americans and people of colour.  Black lives matter. The lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Regis Korcinski-Paquet, David McAtee and countless others who have died during interactions with the police matter. Canada shares these problems. On June 4th, Chantel Moore, a woman from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, was killed by police in New Brunswick during a wellness check. In addition, Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately incarcerated and killed by police in Canada.


Some events, like the verbal attacks and threats made against birdwatcher Christian Cooper in New York’s Central Park, by a Canadian-born woman, illustrate how racism is still firmly entrenched in our own fields of conservation and sustainability. The racial profiling of Shelby McPhee during the 2019 Social Sciences Congress held on the UBC campus underscores the racism that Black scholars face in university settings. These events remind us of the importance of standing up against racism not only on social media, but also in the workplace, in our research and writing, and in our classrooms.

To the Black Students Union (see the UBC Black Student Union’s statement here) and Black community who are a part of IRES, UBC, across Canada, and beyond: we stand with you in grief, anger, and solidarity against the injustices aimed at you. Black communities have experienced direct acts of violence at the hands of police, but just as often (and in subtler ways) they have experienced racism from others, including institutional racism, which has systematically excluded Black voices for generations. We recognize that racism is experienced especially acutely by Black communities, and that it is also often felt by First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities, and other racialized groups.

IRES will continue to institutionalize and strengthen anti-racism policies and practices. We recognize that solidarity is not enough. Beyond supporting the institutional actions outlined in UBC President Santa Ono’s letter, we commit to working together as a department to address not only individual bias but structural realities that silence and deeply under-represent voices, particularly those of Black and Indigenous Peoples. Within and beyond UBC this includes:

  • Forming an IRES Anti-Racism Working Group to articulate our commitments and ensure continued engagement and work on this topic. This will include addressing problems of white fragility and the curse of assumed good intention therein.
  • Examining our existing course content and assumed canon to diversify the scholarly voices that our students hear, while fostering equity competency as a learning outcome.
  • We strive to invite and hear from diverse voices in our seminar series but will now require it in more explicit terms. We will invite speakers with lived and/or professional experience doing anti-racism work. And we will explicitly engage scholarship that addresses deep historical and contemporary structural inequalities.
  • Ensuring best practices for equity, diversity, and inclusion in: faculty hiring; recruiting and training research teams, research design and implementation (in the field, in the lab, in communities, at our desks).
  • Creating an archive of books, movies, documentaries, podcasts and videos to learn about racism, and create an open study group surrounding these resources.
  • Connecting IRES students and faculty to opportunities to take part in activism and learning, and revisiting such practices as citation habits (Citations Practices Challenge).

The IRES Student Society will continue to assemble a “living” catalogue of resources on anti-racism.

Black Lives Matter resources:

This page contains several useful toolkits that range in application from dismantling white supremacy personally and internally, to resources for community organizers, and guides for direct action.

Anti-racism resources:

This page is titled “Anti-racism resources for white people” but also contains important reading, podcasts, articles, movies, social media pages and etc. for all non-Black folks (including other people of colour with different lived experiences) who would like to better understand the Black Lives Matter movement and the history and context of Black oppression in North America.

Campaign Zero Proposed Solutions:

Campaign Zero is a call to action to end police violence and brutality. Their organizers provide several specific and well-articulated policy requests which can be found at the link above. We recommend that members of the IRES community who engage in activism on this topic familiarize themselves with these, since clear requests can provide a roadmap for change.

Lab heads should learn to talk about racism:

An op-ed in Nature about the responsibility that senior academics have to learn about and discuss racism with their students.

Incorporating Anti-Racist Pedagogy in the College Classroom:

A study describing barriers, strategies, and lessons learned by white faculty who tried to integrate anti-racist pedagogy in their teaching.

Decolonize Your Mind:

An anti-racist reading list.

We also acknowledge that these events are stressful, emotional, and even traumatic for many. We encourage compassion and conversation about racism and the harm it causes within and beyond our community, but also refer to the following resources for more formal support.

Resources and events for Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour at UBC:

Mental health, wellness, and advocacy resources for UBC Students from Equity & Inclusion Office:

In solidarity,

The Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES)