Durham College signs BlackNorth Initiative pledge to dismantle anti-Black racism

College joins more than 200 organizations across Canada in committing to specific actions and targets

Oshawa, Ont. – Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that President Don Lovisa has signed the BlackNorth Initiative’s CEO pledge, joining more than 200 leaders from across Canada in committing their organizations to realizing specific actions and targets designed to dismantle anti-Black systemic racism and create opportunities for all those in the underrepresented BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) community.

The pledge commits DC to implementing and reporting on measurable efforts, including new policies, procedures and practices, aimed to not only address systemic anti-Black racism within the college but to actively work to educate others and dismantle the barriers negatively affecting the lives of Black Canadians.

As a signatory to the BlackNorth Initiative CEO pledge, DC is committing to increasing its delivery of unconscious bias and anti-racism education and, by 2025, ensuring that 5 per cent of its student positions and 3 per cent of its donations create opportunities for the Black community. The college is also committing to working to attract, develop and advance talent to contribute to a target of 3.5 per cent of executive and Board roles based in Canada being held by Black people in the same timeframe. The college’s actions and progress will be accountable through reports to its Board of Governors.

Joining the BlackNorth Initiative reflects DC’s core values of diversity, inclusion and respect that are named in the 2020-2023 Strategic Plan published earlier this year. The college’s participation is also a significant extension of the work both completed and currently underway at the college to identify and eradicate anti-Black racism, discrimination and oppression of all kinds.

This summer, the college’s Social Justice Week committee, together with the Black Student Success Network, Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions and DC Students Inc., launched a series of online community dialogue sessions to create a safe space for students and employees to share with and learn from each other about experiences of anti-Black racism. Other recent initiatives include:

  • Establishment of the college’s first Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.
  • DC representation on the City of Oshawa’s first-ever Community Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
  • Development of a college Equity policy.
  • Ongoing delivery of unconscious bias training for students and employees.
  • Formation of a DC Black Student Success Network.

The Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism announced the formation of the Council and launch of the BlackNorth Initiative in June with a view to increase the representation of Blacks in boardrooms and executive suites across Canada. The Council held the inaugural BlackNorth Initiative Summit virtually on July 20, drawing a diverse group of supporting organizations that spans companies of all sizes, industries and mandates, including; financial services, education, extractive industries, professional services, healthcare, online services, consulting, manufacturing, small-to-medium-sized firms, business associations, private companies and more.


“Durham College condemns anti-Black racism and oppression of any kind, but to fully dismantle the systemic barriers faced by BIPOC students, employees and community members, we need more than words. Signing the BlackNorth Initiative CEO pledge is a powerful next step we are taking to effect significant, positive change on our campus and well beyond.”

– Don Lovisa, president, DC

“Actions like signing the BlackNorth Initiative CEO pledge and engaging the college community in courageous conversation are steps towards recognizing the injustices Black people have endured for a very long time. The barriers we know exist are the result of years of systemic policies and practices that promote exclusion rather than inclusion. We will not always get things right but we must remain intentional in our efforts and stay the course to realize meaningful change.”

– Michele James, chair, DC Board of Governors

“DC is on the right path to walking its talk. As signatory to the BlackNorth Initiative CEO pledge, we are transforming our new Strategic Plan into a living document by taking this step to make upholding our values of diversity, inclusion and respect an actionable commitment. It is not easy or quick work, and will require the commitment and involvement of the entire college community, but there is much optimism and motivation to be found in this partnering with the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism.”

– Allison Hector-Alexander, director, Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions, DC

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About Durham College

With campuses in Oshawa and Whitby and a learning site in Pickering, Durham College (DC) offers approximately 13,400 full-time post-secondary and apprenticeship students access to more than 140 full-time and nine apprenticeship programs, including the Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Science and Honours Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management.

DC enables students to develop the career-ready skills required to meet the demands of today’s job market by connecting them with expert faculty and offering quality programs. With a focus on experiential learning through field placements, applied research, co-ops and other hands-on opportunities, DC grads have the skills and knowledge employers need.

The Oshawa campus features DC’s newest building, the Centre for Collaborative Education, which represents the college’s commitment to working with local business and community partners while bringing together local, Indigenous and global communities and members of key business sectors.

DC’s Whitby campus is home to the Skills Training Centre, where students receive hands-on training and instruction in industrial-grade shop labs for carpentry, HVAC, welding, elevating devices and crane operation, among others. The campus also features the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, which includes Bistro ’67, a full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, and Pantry, a retail store featuring food prepared by students in the college’s culinary programs.

For more information, visit www.durhamcollege.ca or call 905.721.2000.

Media contact:

Melissa McLean (she/her/hers)
Communications and Marketing