I am writing today to encourage members of the University of Saskatchewan (USask) community to show their support for 2SLGBTQIA+ History Month, which is observed in October in Canada and is also recognized internationally. This month-long celebration honours the achievements, contributions, and diverse identities of Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual (2SLGBTQIA+) peoples, and offers an important opportunity to learn more about the histories of queer people and queer communities at home and around the world.
Various events and learning resources will be available to the USask community throughout this month, including a book club, movie nights, a museum exhibit, and an evening focused on the history of the art of drag. On our campus, these events began with the advertised panel discussion on Oct. 3 moderated by faculty members Dr. Rachel Loewen Walker (PhD) and Dr. Alessio Ponzio (PhD), a key organizer of 2SLGBTQIA+ History Month. Thank you to Dr. Ponzio for his many contributions, and to all those who have worked so hard to make these events possible. In 2023, USask has for the first time taken the initiative to recognize and support 2SLGBTQIA+ History Month Canada. It is our hope that we will see many more universities in Canada creating a series of scheduled events.
At USask, we embrace equity, diversity, and inclusion, as reflected in our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy that was approved by the Board of Governors and University Council. As a university we continue to work together to ensure our campuses are fair, respectful, and inclusive for all community members. This includes respect for, and affirmation of, gender identity and gender expression. To advance this important work, the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic is elevating the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Gender and Sexual Diversity (PAC-GSD). A working group of faculty, staff, and students will undertake to renew the mandate and terms of reference for the PAC-GSD, and its initiatives and advisory role. Deputy Provost Dr. Patti McDougall and I are so grateful for the commitment of the working group members.
As we recognize 2SLGBTQIA+ History Month, we reflect on discrimination that members of the queer community have experienced and continue to face today. In recent months, the attention and debate across Canada related to gender identity and gender expression has been challenging for many. In my role as provost and vice-president academic, I have heard how important it is when so many across our university stand in support and solidarity with members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We do this when checking bias, in our use of language, through research, scholarly and artistic works, through curriculum, and community engagement. At USask, we work together to ensure our campuses are safe and accountable spaces for all. This remains a top priority and is how we become the university the world needs.
This month reminds us that the world, and our part of the world here at USask, needs safe, accountable, and welcoming spaces for everyone. In this spirit of respect and inclusivity, let’s show our support for 2SLGBTQIA+ History Month by attending events on our campus and by accessing the many resources available at the University Library. This includes the Neil Richards Collection of Gender and Sexual Diversity, which will be showcased through an exhibit in the Murray Library later this month. More information about how we can participate in 2SLGBTQIA+ History Month is available on the Spotlight website.
Provost and Vice-President Academic