“We need to acknowledge where there is space to improve on certain things and always strive to be better”

Our IGNITE executive team is a group of incredibly hard-working students, dedicated to advocating for the rights of students at all three of Humber and Guelph-Humber’s campuses. One topic of concern for Shay Hamilton, vice-president of North campus, is diversity and inclusion on campus. I sat down with Shay to discuss her involvement with Black History Month and what she is hoping to achieve in her role as VP. 

Check out all Shay had to say about her stride for diversity and inclusivity on campus:

Fighting for equality on campus

Some of Shay’s most important work as VP has been promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. In order to achieve this valuable goal, she is currently sitting on the Black History Month committee, as well as being a full-time member of the EDI committee. I had never heard about the EDI Committee before speaking with Shay. For those who don’t know, the Equity Diversity and Inclusion Committee, as Shay explained, “specifically helps the school figure out how to properly communicate things around campus to make sure it is inclusive to everyone. The committee also runs workshops to better educate us on issues surrounding our equity, diversity and equity mandate.” 

Every month, the EDI Committee hosts events related to its diversity and inclusion mandate. Shay is often in attendance at these workshops. The most recent of these events was a conversation surrounding the intersections of race and everyday life.

“Some people just don’t think racism exists, but it does. It exists in every colour, every culture. The workshop was about challenging the things that people don’t believe. We even talked about things that I, as a black person, didn’t know about. Their workshops are very informative. I feel like, every time I go to one, I learn something new. I liked that it was a nice mixed room, it was great to see people who were not of colour attending. I loved the true honesty and rawness of it.”

Diversity Initiatives

In her role, Shay continues to focus on diversity initiatives. Through her work on the Black History Month Committee, she created the Black Excellence Conference. The event featured a panel of speakers from all walks of life, “it consisted of a panel full of people of colour and LGBTQ+ folks, all talking about time and wealth. The panel consisted of three speakers, all millennials, who are more relatable to students.”

For example, there was an influencer on the panel. She went to school in the United States. She studied something completely different and now she is a motivational speaker. She goes around talking to other millennials about how to improve their everyday life, so they can achieve their goals. She is very real and honest about her struggles. She is out of debt, she married her high school sweetheart, just had a baby and bought a home. None of this was easy, but it can be obtainable. She shows us that your path doesn’t have to be linear in order to be amazing. It’s just about sticking to the path that’s right for you and looking forward to the future. Set important goals and maintain them so you can create the life you want for you and your children.”

While the event took place on Feb. 19, Shay hopes it will develop into a yearly event with IGNITE. “I am hoping that if the Black Excellence Conference is successful then it will keep happening every year. I would love to see it get better and better as more hype builds around it. Once that happens we can start to invest in getting bigger names to attend.” 

Three panel members from the Black Excellence Conference event

The importance of these initiatives

The importance of initiatives like these cannot be understated, “the student population at Humber is very diverse, and the Black population is quite large here. I feel like there is a need for more events like these, and that’s why I’m working tirelessly to get more initiatives going. I don’t want there to be any Black students who feel like ‘they’re going to be the only black person in attendance at events.’”

At the end of our conversation, Shay shared a few closing words about her thoughts on our community, “as a college, I think Humber has done a lot, to try to be inclusive. Being here has changed my life in so many ways. My position with IGNITE, and being involved with the EDI Committee, has definitely made me more aware of the way I talk to people. I just feel like we need to acknowledge where there is space to improve on certain things and always strive to be better.”

*All interviews have been edited for length and clarity

For more on Black History Month check out why Black History Month is important.

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