A student poster associated with an exhibit at Hart House has been defaced with a racial slur against Indigenous peoples.
Campus police are investigating how the slur came to be scrawled across the poster over the weekend – and Toronto Police Services has opened an investigation.
“This is a despicable act of racism against Indigenous peoples that has no place in our community – or anywhere else in this country,” President Meric Gertler said. “I am at a loss to understand how someone could commit such a hateful act.”
The student whose poster was defaced asked not to be named and organizers requested the exhibit not be identified.
The incident is “profoundly disturbing and antithetical to the values of diversity, inclusion, respect and civility so fundamental to the University of Toronto,” said Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr.
“We are deeply committed to truth and reconciliation, and this appalling incident shows just how much work still needs to be done.”
Jonathan Hamilton-Diabo, the university’s director of Indigenous initiatives, said it was important for the university to take a strong stand against the incident.
“The kind of discriminatory language we saw in this incident is, sadly, not surprising to many Indigenous peoples,” Hamilton-Diabo said. “However, communities have demonstrated, over and over, their resiliency to this unfortunate attitude and behaviour. This will not dissuade the efforts to increase Indigenous presence at the university, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of the work of activists, scholars, students, and artists – and the importance of exhibits like this one.”
Warden John Monahan of Hart House, which hosted the January 13th entrustment ceremony for U of T’s Truth and Reconciliation report, said, “Hart House is committed to ensuring that all members of the university and broader community feel welcome and included here, and that their experiences and stories are fully respected and reflected in the work that we do.
“We will continue to offer compelling and engaging programming and exhibits that reflect our commitment to promoting conciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” Monahan said, “and we will not permit racism to interfere with that commitment.”