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Architects use new forum to comment on racism, diversity

Architects use new forum to comment on racism, diversity

TORONTO — In June, the OAA sent an anti-racism statement in response to recent events in Canada and the U.S., followed by an email to the membership from OAA President Kathleen Kurtin.

The correspondence received a lot of feedback and candid comments from the architecture community on OAA.chat, a new forum for members to share their thoughts, concerns and experiences. In an effort to be transparent, the OAA posted the comments on social media channels. The following are some of the responses:

  • “Through the lack of concrete actions, it is clear that this email was intended as a performative display aimed at placating its white members, and offloading accountability by filling members’ inboxes with a directionless message.”
  • “My call to action for OAA addresses how the profession can support and foster BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual), and visible minorities in leadership positions in offices today. It would be a great step to have a committee of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at OAA which consists of BIPOC, LGBTQIA and visible minorities to show how the profession is combating against racism and discrimination.”
  • “Racism is something that architects design into the built realm, even though they pretend to practice a neutral, independent profession that rises above its social and political context. As the most obvious example, architects design prisons, detention centres, and, of course, the more ubiquitous and mundane hostile architecture in our modern cities. These spaces physically exclude, and often inflict bodily harm on those (frequently poor/racialized people) who occupy them.”
  • “The OAA neglected to gather race-related demographic data in its previous member surveys, making it impossible to understand where we stand in terms of racial equity within the profession, or how to improve.”
  • “The complicity of our industry in creating and perpetuating conditions which dehumanize and place structural barriers in front of Black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPOC) communities, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) community and all visible minorities needs to change.”
  • “Architecture as a profession does need to actively broaden and encourage the interest of students from all communities and backgrounds to avoid homogeneity of future practitioners.”

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