Today, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has released the interim report of the independent third‐party review into allegations of systemic racism and other forms of oppression within the Museum.
The review was led by Laurelle Harris, who delivered her findings and recommendations to the Museum’s Board of Trustees. In the interest of transparency, the Board has released the report in full and has made it available on the Museum website.
“The Board of Trustees welcomes the review’s findings. It is clear many people have been adversely impacted by racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination within the Museum, and we apologize unreservedly,” said Board Chair and Interim CEO Pauline Rafferty. “We are taking immediate and decisive action to build an anti‐racist and anti‐discriminatory workplace.” (See backgrounder below.)
Harris’ report identifies systemic racism within the Museum which has had a negative physical, emotional and financial impact on employees who are Black, Indigenous or People of Colour. It also identifies instances of sexism, heterosexism and homophobia within the organization.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I apologize that it took a public crisis for the organization to seriously reflect on the issues of systemic racism, homophobia and other forms of oppression,” Rafferty continued. “We need to focus our attention on our hiring practices, our policies and our workplace culture. We will recommit ourselves to the values upon which the Museum was founded, of human dignity and respect, and make this a priority. How we work will be as important as the work itself.”
The Board of Trustees recently formed a Diversity and Inclusion Committee led by Trustee Julie Jai. The Board will also be reviewing the Museum’s five‐year strategic plan to prioritize diversity and inclusion goals and developing metrics to measure progress.
“We will create and implement policies and procedures that cover all aspects of the Museum’s work,” added Julie Jai. “We have an opportunity to transform the Museum into a workplace that practices anti‐racism and rejects all forms of oppression, including sexism, heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia. With sustained effort, the Museum will emerge much stronger for it.”
The Museum is closed today and tomorrow (August 5 and 6) to provide staff an opportunity to review the report and meet with Laurelle Harris.
Backgrounder: CMHR response to Phase One report
On July 31, the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights received a report entitled “Rebuilding the Foundation,” an external review into systemic racism and oppression within the Museum.
The Board welcomes the findings and is taking immediate action to implement the five recommendations pertaining to the Board. (Prior to receiving the report, the Board of Trustees created a new Diversity and Inclusion Committee).
The five recommendations to be implemented immediately are:
- Diversity and Inclusion Committee to require not fewer than one Black person, one Indigenous person and one person who identifies as LGTBQ2+ at all times, in addition to members of additional equity groups;
- All board policies approved to date and future board policies will undergo a thorough analysis to screen for bias, and to ensure that board policies promote, and support equity;
- All members of the Board of Trustees engage in ongoing anti‐racist and anti‐oppression education, both by way of self‐learning and through scheduled training sessions;
- The Board of Trustees set goals for the Chief Executive Officer to promote a culture of equity, inclusion and accountability within the Museum; and
- The Board of Trustees require the Chief Executive Officer to engage in meaningful community relations with Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities, and to ensure meaningful community relations with transgender/gender diverse and Two‐Spirit communities in particular.
The Board and Museum leadership have also agreed to taking the following actions over and above the recommendations in the report:
- Reviewing the Museum’s five‐year strategic plan to prioritize diversity and inclusion goals and developing metrics to measure progress;
- Supporting a comprehensive external review (phase two) which will expand on the findings of the first phase to provide a framework for long‐term action;
- Launching mandatory sexual harassment training for all managers, staff and volunteers in the coming weeks. This training is to be completed by the end of September 2020;
- Management reporting annually to the Board through the Diversity and Inclusion committee on action and progress on equity initiatives as well as on any complaints of racism, homophobia, sexual harassment and other forms of oppression;
- Developing and implementing a new policy to ensure the practice of censoring any Museum content is strictly prohibited;
- Investing a minimum of $250,000 of the Museum’s 2020–21 budget to support training for all staff and managers at the Museum; and
- Collaborating with staff to support the creation of staff‐led groups to provide input on Museum policies, practices and decisions.
Finally, the Board is encouraging management to immediately act upon the following recommendations from the report:
- Create a senior role within the Museum focused on diversity and inclusion.
- Review recruitment and hiring practices, including a complete analysis of the Museum’s employment practices in Phase Two; and
- Roll out an institution‐wide education and learning plan – including working with staff to redevelop mandatory respectful workplace training.