An Alleged Incident of Racial Profiling at Congress

CAPAL/ABES has sent the following letter to Gabriel Miller, the Executive Director of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, concerning an alleged racial profiling incident at Congress 2019. […]

CAPAL/ACBES Letterhead

June 8th 2019

Gabriel Miller
Executive Director,
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Dear Mr. Miller:

We are writing on behalf of the Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians/Association canadienne des bibliothécaires en enseignement supérieure (CAPAL- ACBES), Canada’s national association representing the interests of professional academic librarians in relation to many areas, including ethics. As association members of Congress, we urge the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences to take steps to ensure equitable enforcement of your Code of Conduct with all association members, volunteers, and organizers.
We deplore the oppressive circumstances to which 2019 Congress attendee Shelby McPhee was subjected as a result of an alleged incident of racial profiling, and we are disappointed in both the behaviour and response of the Congress representatives involved. While we appreciate the Federation’s subsequent statement that it stands by its Code of Conduct and is opposed to all forms of harassment and discrimination, it would appear that, in this scenario, your representatives were either not aware of the Code or chose not to enforce it. We also understand that the Federation is investigating the matter. Regardless, racial profiling in any form is an impediment to scholarship, unacceptable, and inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

To avoid such events from happening in the future, we urge you to:
• Clarify your Code of Conduct rules and practices to your organizers and volunteers prior to each conference
• Provide copies of the Code to every organizer and volunteer
• Develop a model to record all such instances so there can be data to understand the extent to which the Code is effective
• Ban Congress participants who are found to have violated the Code from the subsequent three conferences.
• In the case of such violations, have a process in place to report back to all Association members as to their resolutions.

We would appreciate your written and public apology to Shelby McPhee and the Black Canadian Studies Association, as well as confirming your response to further measures of recompense requested by that Association. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


CAPAL/ACBES Board of Directors

Mary Greenshields (University of Alberta)
Mona Elayyan (York University)
Laura Koltutsky (University of Calgary)
Emma Popowich (University of Manitoba)
Maha Kumaran (University of Saskatchewan)
Afra Bolefski (University of Manitoba)
Tracy Zahradnik (University of Toronto)
Jeff Lilburn (Mount Alison)
Kevin Tanner (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology)
Dom Taylor (University of Manitoba)

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