June 9, 2020 - Equity convened a special meeting on June 9 to discuss the current state of our community in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and commit to action in response to the urgent needs of the membership. We acknowledge these commitments to action are a beginning, the first steps of many we can take now and should have taken prior. Equity promises to do better for our membership, including our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members whose bravery, courage, and trauma have created a seismic shift in our sector. We gratefully acknowledge the work and commitment of the BIPOC members, Councillors, and staff before us. Black Lives Matter.
After our meeting this morning, here are four actions that we commit to right now.
1. COUNCIL MOTION
Council unanimously passed the following motion at its special meeting today:
Council tasks the Council Officers to create a statement on behalf of the membership to condemn and advocate for the abolishment of "As Cast" practices.
Council and staff condemn in strongest terms the practice of "As Cast". Although included in the CTA, ITA, and Stratford Addendum as means of fluidly casting during the rehearsal process, "As cast" casting is repeatedly used by engagers to reinforce oppressive structures and abuse artists' identities. We have heard how the practice removes agency from our membership, and we have seen the racial harm of "As Cast" to our BIPOC membership in practice. We see the intersecting ways that "As Cast" perpetuates stereotypes and silences our membership. The industry must respect the voices and the agencies of our racialized members, and abolishing "As Cast" is a commitment towards the lifting up of the voices and agencies of our BIPOC membership.
Ryan G. Hinds, 2nd Vice President
Scott Bellis, Council President
Erika Morey, Secretary-Treasurer
Kerry Davidson, 1st Vice President
2. CODE OF CONDUCT
Equity's Safe and Respectful Workspace Policy is clear on issues of discrimination. We commit to continue updating and re-releasing our policies, including our Not in Our Space! materials, in order to ensure that our working practices and places of work are safe and respectful with clear guidelines for what to do when a situation occurs. The safety of our membership and the commitment to ensuring safe and respectful workplaces for our BIPOC members is paramount; this is a never-ending commitment that we keep affirming. The recently adopted Equity Member Standards of Professional Conduct is available here. As an Association, we are committed to doing better.
3. ALLYSHIP IN ACTION: Indigeneity Workshop in June 2020
The Indigenous Committee, chaired by Councillors Michaela Washburn and Valerie Planche have been generous in helping Council have the tools to do the work of listening and learning. Council's two day meeting in June includes the workshop Allyship in Action, led by Naheyawin's Hunter and Jacquelyn Cardinal. We are opening it up to the membership for several reasons: for the extremely valuable, necessary, and relevant teachings it offers and for the membership to know where Council's learning is. Details on accessing the workshop will be communicated soon.
4. CONTINUING OUR WEBINAR SERIES: Anti-Oppression
Equity commits that the next of our ongoing Webinar series will be dedicated to Anti-Oppression training. The planning for this session will be led by staff and our BIPOC Councillors, and will be in line with the format of our previous webinars. We look forward to a more fulsome release of details soon.
In coming days, there will be a synopsis of the meeting communicated to the membership via EQUIFLASH and/or Council Connect, and the minutes of the meeting will be available. Equity has heard requests for transcripts; due to the sensitive and personal nature of the discussion (which included confidential information), some BIPOC Councillors were not comfortable with a transcription release, so between a synopsis and the minutes, we are confident that an accurate, truthful, and detailed description of the meeting will be available shortly.
Equity Council would like to reinforce that the action items cited here represent only the very first steps we commit to taking. The work of dismantling systems of oppression within our Association and industry is well beyond the scope of a two-hour meeting and we commit to that work. We commit to pursuing long-term, radical action with transparency and guidance from our membership. Your Council can be contacted here: and staff can be contacted here.
The meeting was attended by: Van Abrahams, Deena Aziz, Karen Bassett, Maev Beaty, Joshua Beaudry, Scott Bellis, Kerry Davidson, Donna Fletcher, Ryan G. Hinds, Richard Lam, Ian Leung, Geoff McBride, Peter McGillivray, Nora McLellan, Erika Morey, Kristina Nicoll, Melissa Novecosky, Valerie Planche, Diane Speirs, Michaela Washburn, Jennifer Wigmore, and staff representatives Arden R. Ryshpan, Steven Sparling, Maz Magoris and Elona Naqo.