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A Message from our President & CEO

by Alan Bernstein Jun 2 / 20

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly ”
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We have all watched with horror and dismay at the events of anti-Black racism and violence happening in the United States. We know that these acts happen here in Canada, too. The protests against racism that are ensuing highlight uncomfortable realities, and the need for conversations, introspection and action by all of us.

The scientific community has a special role to play. Science is based on ideas, facts and evidence, not prejudice or ideology. At CIFAR, as an international research organization with fellows, advisors and scholars from more than 20 countries, we are especially aware of our responsibility to operate in an environment of diversity, inclusivity and equity. It would be a violation of the culture and values of science not to apply these principles to both our words and our actions. 

We know that systemic barriers exist in science and more broadly in research organizations and academia-- including CIFAR. We know that we can do more to ensure our actions, systems and processes remove these barriers rather than reinforce them. We are taking deliberate action toward this objective.

In April 2020, CIFAR’s Board of Directors approved our organization's first Action Plan on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The plan outlines themes we need to address to ensure we are living our values as an organization. These include:

  • fostering inclusive spaces – focusing on collaboration, respecting each other, and providing education on EDI principles;
  • providing equal opportunities for all – removing systemic racism and providing more opportunities for underrepresented groups;
  • removing unconscious bias from decision-making
  • providing training and awareness, recognizing diversity as a strength, and considering merit-based acceptance into CIFAR’s community; and
  • committing to diverse groups – building on CIFAR’s strengths with an intersectional approach to researcher selection, and having equal representation at leadership levels in research programs.

We see those who have been marginalized and excluded. We acknowledge the hurt, fear, sadness, frustration, anger and hopelessness that many are feeling right now. As an organization, we will do better and be a part of the dialogue.

The brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis took place at a time when the world was already engulfed in economic, social and personal turmoil and tragedy due to the global pandemic. This is indeed a dark time, not only for the United States but for the world. We stand united with our many friends and colleagues in the US and all over the world not only in condemnation of horrific acts of violence and racism, but also in our commitment to ending this pandemic as quickly as possible. 

Let’s look after one another. 

Stay safe,

Alan Bernstein