Equity & Inclusion Office gives over $49k to support faculty-, staff-led EDI projects

The UBC Equity & Inclusion Office (EIO) has announced the community-based funding recipients through the Equity Enhancement Fund.

The Equity Enhancement Fund (EEF) is an initiative that supports faculty- and staff-led projects that amplify equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at UBC across both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. The fund supports UBC’s Inclusion Action Plan. It has two running cycles, in the spring and the fall, with a total of $80,000 made available at the Vancouver campus and $10,000 for the Okanagan campus annually.

The EIO received 59 applications for the EEF for the spring funding cycle, with a total grant request of $245,245, and selected 14 initiatives to receive funding. UBC Vancouver was awarded $42,900 across nine projects, while UBC Okanagan received $6,610 for five projects, for a total of $49,510.

One of the projects funded was UBC ARTIVISM. The annual festival is in its fifth year and was led by the UBC Arts and Culture District, with Artistic Director Helena Miranda and Artistic Producer Vanessa Matsubara in partnership with the Exposure UBC student club team. It took place from September 6 to October 13.

This year's theme was Politics of the Body. “[The] body is something that everyone can relate to, but it also touches on matters of gender and BIPOC communities,” said Miranda, a third-year media studies student.

Deb Pickman, the special projects, Arts & Culture District and marketing communications specialist, said, “We have all these initiatives that we want to take action on as students, faculty and staff, and a lot of times it will end up being a talk or a lecture that's something that's quite serious.”

“But when you can do a piece of art or a performance … I think it speaks to people in a very different way … It's such a great place to unpack a difficult conversation,” Pickman said.

Matsubara, a third-year media studies student, said in-person art events “[foster] an environment where you can learn [and] meet new people” which she didn’t get to experience in her first year due to COVID-19.

According to the team, anyone can participate and is welcome to submit their art when the time comes. For ARTIVISM's fifth year, events ranged from workshops, performances and drag and art shows in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver International Film Festival and the Hatch Art Gallery.

“ARTIVISM is really about giving voice and power to those who want to make something, to exhibit their works or [who] just want to have a safe space,” said Miranda.

“Even by having them participating, they're taking action and supporting diverse artists, for example, and hearing from artists that normally they just don't get a chance to share what they're doing,” Pickman said.

Another project awarded funding was IBPOC Connections for Students, designed to support and create a safe space for students who identify as IBPOC with a common interest in climate justice and wellbeing and who are perhaps experiencing climate anxiety.

The project is inspired by the IBPOC Wellness Mentors Program piloted from September 2021 to April 2022.

“Because [the IBPOC Wellness Mentors Program] was a pilot, we knew that we wanted to take the best parts of that particular pilot, and then see how we might be able to implement those specific aspects. And that's where the idea for IBPOC Connections came,” said Levonne Abshire, the project lead and director of health equity, promotion and education at UBC.

“Some of those strengths we're now bringing IBPOC students together in a less formal, casual environment that really did build on social connection and community engagement … because we know that social connection and a sense of belonging does improve one's mental health.”

The IBPOC Connection for Students program is in collaboration with the EIO, the Sustainability Hub and Student Health & Wellbeing, with term one focusing on planning and term two on implementation.

Helena Miranda was the photo editor for The Ubyssey's 2022 magazine. She was not involved in the writing or editing of this piece.