Systemic racism and discrimination review

Addressing systemic racism and discrimination in our workplace.

The Museum's Board of Trustees is taking steps to ensure that we are a fully welcoming institution for all staff, volunteers, visitors, donors, Board members and community partners.

Exterior view of the Museum.

The Museum is examining systemic racism and discrimination in its workplace. We are committed to developing an exemplary approach to ensuring a workplace culture and environment that is free from racism, homophobia, harassment and oppression in any form.

Phase one

On July 31, 2020, Laurelle Harris delivered an independent report examining concerns raised by current and former employees about systemic racism and discrimination at the Museum. Twenty-five interviews were held with current and former employees, written accounts were considered, and Museum documents and records were reviewed.

Harris’ report identifies systemic racism which has had a negative physical, emotional and financial impact on Museum employees who are Black, Indigenous or People of Colour. It also identifies instances of sexism, heterosexism and homophobia.

The report contains 44 recommendations for change. The Board of Trustees has committed to taking both short-term and long-term action to build an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory workplace.

About the review

The Museum engaged Laurelle Harris to undertake an independent review that will go beyond human resource issues to consider the Museum’s policies, practices, processes and culture. The review is being conducted from an anti-racist, anti-colonial, intersectional feminist, trauma-informed perspective.

Harris is a mediator, arbitrator and lawyer with specific expertise in Women’s Studies and Black Studies. She is supported by a multi-disciplinary team with diverse areas of expertise, including Barbara Bruce, an Indigenous consultant and Elder who is president of All My Relations Inc.

Read the full Terms of Engagement for the review (PDF)

About the Diversity and Inclusion Committee

A new Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been established by the Museum’s Board of Trustees to oversee the review and lead the implementation of an action plan. The Committee’s goal is to ensure a workplace culture free of bias and a fully welcoming institution for all staff, visitors, donors, Board members and community partners.

The Committee is chaired by trustee Julie Jai, a former member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario with extensive experience in reconciliation and human rights issues. Its members also include trustees Wilton Littlechild, Pardeep Singh Nagra, Mark Berlin and Michèle Rivet

The Committee will also monitor and ensure accountability for the Museum’s compliance with implementation of action plans. The Committee will also ensure information, reports, recommendations and action plans are shared in a transparent manner with employees, volunteers and the general public.

Céleste McKay and Esi Codjoe are external advisors to the Committee.

Phase One: Preliminary review

The review is taking place in two phases. The first phase, which began in late June 2020, considered specific concerns raised by current and former employees and analyzed management’s response to these concerns.

Read the phase one report.

Phase Two: Comprehensive review

The second phase of the review will expand on the findings of the first phase to provide a framework for long-term action. Current and former staff and volunteers are encouraged to share their experiences and observations freely and confidentially. Those who wish to participate can do so by reaching out to Ms. Harris prior to August 15, 2020 by emailing LHarris@harrislawsolutions.ca

The scope of work for Phase two will be established in light of the phase one report received on July 31 and the recommendations it made.

Biographies

Laurelle Harris

Harris is a mediator, arbitrator, and lawyer with academic training in Women’s Studies and Black Studies at the undergraduate and graduate level from the University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba and Ohio State University. She earned her law degree in 2001 from the Robson Hall Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba.

An experienced litigator, she founded Harris Law Solutions to pursue other professional interests including mediation, arbitration, and consulting on issues of equity and inclusion.

As a Black, Jewish, queer cisgender woman, she is committed to equity, inclusion and social justice. Harris teaches and practices using an intersectional feminist analysis in order to better understand, dismantle, and counter structural oppressions.

She has volunteered extensively in the area of community health, and in 2019 was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of Women’s Health Clinic, where she has served as a volunteer counsellor, a board member, and the first racialized Chair of the Board of Directors in the history of the organization. Harris also chairs the Manitoba Bar Association’s Equality Issues section.

Barbara Bruce

Bruce is a citizen of the Métis Nation - Michif Otipemisiwak and Two-Spirit. Her belief in Indigenous traditional teachings is reflected in all the work she takes on. With more than 35 years of experience in consulting, Bruce has developed working relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders, organizations and governments across Canada.

Her extensive professional experience includes her work as the president and owner of All My Relations Inc. She is a founder of the Two-Spirit Michif Local and a lead facilitator and curriculum developer for Indigenous cultural awareness training. She has been an Elders council member for organized calls to action with a focus on gender and sexual diversity in racialized contexts. Among numerous other roles, she also served as an events planner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and a lead consultant for the 2011 Collaboration to End Violence: National Aboriginal Women’s Forum.

Among her accolades are the “Keeping the Fires Burning” award as a kookum (grandmother) from Ka Ni Kanichihk, the Manitoba Human Rights Achievement Award, and the Order of Manitoba.

Bruce feels the pain and injustices created by the legacy of colonization, residential schools and the Sixties Scoop as well as sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and other structural inequalities. She has fought against these her entire life and continues to do so. Her dedication to advancing the rightful place and recognition of the Two-Spirit community, as well as Indigenous women and children, is an integral part of her life.

This page was last updated August 5, 2020 after the release of the phase one report.