A Q&A with Dr. Irena Creed, Professor and Executive Director of the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at the University of Saskatchewan.
How was your experience attending the Saskatoon Pride Parade?
I enjoyed interacting with the Saskatoon community in support of this important issue. I also enjoyed connecting with faculty and students from the U of S and with the city as a whole. I was proud to march in support of such valued members of our society.
How does it make you feel that other SENS staff, faculty, and students showed their support for Pride?
It was a bonding moment, to march side-by-side with the university community, and to publicly align ourselves in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Do you plan to attend this event in the future?
I was honoured to attend and participate in the Pride event this year and I plan on continuing to attend this important event in the future. It is important to show solidarity. Hopefully the presence of myself, SENS, and the university as a whole will let both current and future students know that we are committed to being open and supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals.
How does SENS support diversity and equality?
The SENS community of faculty, staff, and students have adopted the following principles to inform how we will behave: we will move from “I” to “We”; we will challenge norms; we will embrace multiple ways of knowing (and being); we will reconcile relationships with people, nature, and spiritual realms; we will work in authentic ways with communities; and we will discover and pursue meaningful solutions in collaboration with communities. I am proud to be the new Executive Director of a School that has adopted these principles, which I believe support diversity and equality.
Why do you think it is important that SENS supports diversity when it comes to learning about the environment and sustainability?
The academy is about the pursuit of uncovering truth, and truth can only be seen when looked at from every perspective. We live together on this planet. Humans are diverse beings. Diversity in race, gender, and sexuality, for example, have significant impacts on people’s lifestyles and their interactions with the planet, with unique struggles and strengths. That is why it is important to acknowledge people’s different life experiences and not think of people as homogenous beings.
It is so important to be active in our communities and to openly support important issues. It is not enough to claim we are accepting of diversity in our students and faculty while not doing anything to support these communities, especially outside of the university environment. We cannot achieve diversity by asking individuals to come to us and fit into our mold. We can only achieve diversity by going out into our community and actively fighting for and supporting those most vulnerable. Together, we can create the social shift needed for freedom of diversity in our universities.