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President’s message: Take time to listen

Posted on June 3, 2020

Vancouver skyline with "president


A message from VCC president Ajay Patel

This past week has shone a bright light on the hard truth of racial and cultural disparities that have existed in communities across North America for centuries. 

As a person of colour, I can speak to my own lived experiences of racism, prejudice, and discrimination. But today, I want to remind our communities that right now we are also called to listen. 

A key goal in my work as an educator is to ensure that all of our students are able to learn and succeed in safe, inclusive, and equitable environments, empowered to achieve their career and life goals. Today, I question if that is enough.  

In Canada, we have a painful history of neglect, abuse, and oppression to the Indigenous Peoples of this land and immigrant communities that persists to date. Our Black-Canadians and communities across the country know and live stigmatization and injustice every day, and are connecting with the racial justice protests and unrest currently happening in the U.S. on a very deep level.

I wanted to write to you, not because I have answers, but because I want to encourage our VCC community to take time to listen. Challenge our thinking and beliefs. Ask ourselves about assumptions or biases that may not support dialogue and positive action in respect for all our communities. Reach out to our Black, Indigenous, and immigrant neighbours, learn about their struggles against systemic barriers, and together condemn and denounce racism and stand in solidarity for justice.

VCC proudly welcomes nearly 16,000 students each year from more than 150 countries and Indigenous Nations, speaking over 50 different languages. We strive through our institutional values to respect and celebrate differences in each other. We are committed to being an accessible college that is inclusive of everyone. This is our ongoing work at VCC, and I invite you to join in our journey.  

Lastly, I have discovered a few resources that may inform or inspire your journey as they have mine. Please find them below. 

Let’s listen, learn, and grow together,


Ajay Patel
President and CEO
Vancouver Community College


Anti-racism Resources
This is a compilation of resources by Black and Indigenous leaders gathered to help us unlearn racism and colonialism, and take action for justice.

Black Lives Matter Vancouver
Organizatoin supporting the work of black folks and allies in undoing systemic racialized violence.

Hogan’s Alley Society
A non-profit organization committed to researching, preserving and publicizing Black history in Vancouver and B.C.

Also, here are some broader Canadian equity and anti-racism organizations you can support: