/Silence does not go unnoticed

Silence does not go unnoticed

To the Editor, 
name is Julia McEathron, and I am a recent graduate of the General Arts
and Science Environmental Studies Program at Algonquin College. Along
with being a proud Algonquin College alumni, I am also a queer,
Indigenous young woman with a passion for environmental sustainability
and for social justice. I have been fortunate enough to have been raised
in Whitney and Haliburton; two rural communities that lack diversity
but have a strong sense of community.
During my studies at Algonquin
College, I had the privilege of learning from passionate and supportive
teachers and had the pleasure of learning alongside passionate and
supportive students. I utilized resources the college had to offer,
attended events held by the Students Association, and volunteered my
time. While doing so, I felt heard and welcome by staff and students. As
a queer, Indigenous woman, I felt safe and respected while walking down
the halls of Algonquin College, I felt protected seeing security
guards, I felt accepted for who I am, and I felt proud seeing the
beautiful mural and the newly build DARE District and Indigenous
Even though I identify with these minority groups, I am
visibly white-skinned; therefore, even though I may face gender
inequality, homophobia, and intergenerational trauma, I am a
non-coloured person and I profit from racial inequality. My life is not
made harder because of the colour of my skin; I am favoured by the
police, I am perceived as non-threatening, and do not fall victim to
hurtful, racial stereotypes because of my colour.
After the death of
George Floyd, yet another black man murdered while in police custody,
citizens of the United States have responded by protesting against
police brutality and racism. What started in Minnesota has now moved
across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada; everyday
people have risen to the occasion by peacefully protesting, sharing
information on their platforms, donating money, and beginning important
conversations regarding white privilege. There is even a peaceful
protest scheduled for Friday, June 5 at the U.S. Embassy in the
community of Ottawa.
June 1 marks the beginning of Pride Month. It is
important to note that black and trans folks were instrumental in the
Stonewall Riots in June of 1969 that lead to gay liberation and LGBTQ
social movements. One cannot support the LGBTQ2S+ community without
supporting People of Colour.
This letter is a Call to Action
regarding racism and police brutality against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous,
People of Colour). As white people and as people in power, it is our job
to stand up and speak out about these issues. As an institution that
advertises itself as a safe space for international students, BIPOC, and
the LGBTQ2S+ community, being silent and neutral on this issue is to
choose the side of the oppressor. I am disappointed that Algonquin
College has been silent towards this issue on all social media platforms
and I am disappointed that the college has not made an official
statement, even though they are able to post about Pride Month. After
reading public statements from both Carleton University and the
University of Ottawa, I feel ashamed that my college is choosing to be
silent. Speaking about the current injustice and posting resources on
social media can encourage students to sign petitions, donate money to
non-profits; a small step that many media influencers, corporations, and
institutions have not yet taken.
I am not perfect. I have stood
silent in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia, and pain-old hate in
my hometown in order to “blend in.” Since I have spend most of my life
in rural communities, moving to Ottawa provided me with a minor dose of
culture shock, and thankfully so; feeling uncomfortable in a diverse
community gave me the opportunity to break down my pre-conceived bias
and identify my privilege to become a better friend, community member,
and Canadian. It is important to note that the road to allyship is never
ending; we must not stop doing the work, we must reflect constantly,
and we must keep on learning.
Ichose to study at Algonquin College
so I could become a better scholar, but most importantly, I chose to go
to post-secondary so I could become an even better member of society.
College teaches us that working together, no matter our strengths and
weaknesses, is the key to success; now is the time to come together and
make a stand. Education and knowledge is a powerful tool; coupled with
teaching students economics, ethics, and mathematics, Algonquin College
must use their power to teach love and acceptance of all peoples. I urge
not just institutions like Algonquin College, but you too, a rural
community member, to take a stance; your silence does not go unnoticed.

Julia McEathron