Diversity, a principle of respecting the differences between all people, valuing the lived experience of minoritized people and fostering a plurality of perspectives and voices. We acknowledge that many people have and continue to experience systemic discrimination in Canada. We must actively, consciously, and mindfully address systemic barriers caused by ableism, genderism, heterosexism, racism, and sexism. We will take purposeful steps to create more opportunities for people who are Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQQIA+, Nonbinary, Gender Non-conforming, Deaf, Living with Disabilities, and Women.
Equity, a principle and a process of ensuring that all can participate meaningfully in our work and our programming (at the time of writing, the Art Canada Institute offers virtual programming only). Conscious that not all people have or experience comparable access to resources and opportunities, we will adapt processes and adopt appropriate practices and tools to do our best at ACI to ensure that individuals with different requirements have equal access to opportunities and programming. In this, we also recognize socio-economic disadvantage and the role it plays in creating barriers to opportunities for many artists and communities.
Inclusion, a principle of welcoming everyone to participate in our programming by adapting our behaviours, communication, and environment to create a respectful space to fully embrace diversity. In order to achieve inclusion, we recognize different world views, behaviours, customs, and ways of interacting. We are committed to building our individual and collective cultural competencies and creating avenues for authentic engagement. We acknowledge that inclusion requires honouring different perspectives and addressing power imbalances in order to foster a sense of belonging.
Our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requires ongoing learning and work. We are committed to equitable processes and respectful relationships as we engage diverse staff and stakeholders and include as wide a population as possible in our programming and initiatives. We aspire to celebrate Indigenous artists and art historians, knowing that Indigenous people are the original people of this land, and to recognize Canadian artists and art historians of all backgrounds, to ensure that their work is known and that audiences have digital access to it.
The Art Canada Institute has the privilege of a unique opportunity to represent the art and tell the stories of artists across Canada through our programming, and it is part of our mandate to promote the study of an inclusive multi-vocal art history to as broad an audience as possible. We strive to reflect and represent the diversity of art makers in Canada throughout the history of this country, cognizant of the fact that many did not, and do not, have support, platforms, or recognition for their practices. Therefore, we strive to work with artists and art historians who are Indigenous, Black, Racialized, Living with Disabilities, and Women, and those who identify as one or more of the identities with in the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community. We are committed to working actively towards a future of reconciliation and social justice.
As of July 2021, these are some of the initiatives we are undertaking:
In our online art book project, our commissioning and programming is committed to presenting the work of a diverse and inclusive range of artists in Canada that goes beyond and expands the traditional canon of Canadian art history. Titles in progress include books on Maud Lewis, Kent Monkman, Gathie Falk, Jin-me Yoon, Marion Nicoll, Carl Beam, Denyse Thomasos, Sophie Pemberton, Hannah Maynard, Jeff Thomas, Tim Whiten, Jamelie Hassan, Betty Goodwin, Matthew Wong, Florence McGillivray, and June Clark.
We are developing online exhibitions, in collaboration with partner institutions and with artists and curators, to showcase works by a range of artists that reflect this country’s diverse past and multicultural nature. In 2020–2021, our online exhibition program included Shuvinai Ashoona, Edward Mitchell Bannister, and C.D. Hoy.
We work closely with educators and we recognize that it is essential that teachers and students of all backgrounds see themselves reflected in curricula. In planning our educational resources, we are committed to publishing resources on artists from marginalized communities every year. In 2020–2021, we published resources on the artists Norval Morrisseau, Paraskeva Clark, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Pitseolak Ashoona, Kazuo Nakamura, and Zacharie Vincent.
In our weekly newsletters and on our social media, we work to highlight how artists in Canada today are changing the conversation around art and its history in this country.
In our publications, released in French and in English, we are adopting inclusive writing practices by developing and implementing new stylistic practices. We are committed to using language that is respectful and we aspire to be as inclusive as possible (for instance, by using genderneutral terms in future publications).
We have begun an audit of our website in relation to accessibility to identify practices to improve in the future, which will be complete by autumn 2021.
We have launched the Redefining Canadian Art History Fellowship Program to support major research projects on the full range of visual culture across the country in all its rich diversity.
The Art Canada Institute is committed to placing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the centre of our practices concerning personnel and governance. We believe that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion must be lived, day to day, in our interactions with each other and in the organization of people that we want to build. We are working on an ongoing basis with the DEI consultant Sheila James to explore new strategies for the organization. We are dedicated to working toward being an institution with a safe and inclusive workspace that is barrier-free. We are grateful to everyone who is guiding us in this work, and we are hopeful that we will continue to make progress in the months to come.
We welcome your questions and comments. Please feel free to write us at [email protected].
Banner image: Shuvinai Ashoona, Audience, 2014, ink and coloured pencil on paper, 91.4 x 161.3 cm, Feheley Fine Arts, Toronto.