Campus Life

U of L appoints its first executive director of equity, diversity and inclusion

Personal experience, a journey in internationalization, an academic interest driven by curiosity and a desire to influence meaningful change have marked a journey that has brought Martha Mathurin-Moe to the University of Lethbridge as the first Executive Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Mathurin-Moe assumes the newly created role — one that is considered a key leadership position in senior administration — at the U of L in early September.

“We have individuals on our Lethbridge and Calgary campuses who are doing excellent work related to EDI, in both formal and informal ways, and the introduction of this position recognizes the need for organizational coordination and integration to better effect systemic and institution-wide change,” says Dr. Mike Mahon, U of L president and vice-chancellor. “We recognize the need for leadership and coordination in this area, alongside institutional will, and as such, the executive director will be a key member of our senior administrative team.”

A PhD candidate in curriculum and instruction, Mathurin-Moe holds a Bachelor of Psychology (Universidad Central Marta Abreu, Cuba) and a Master of Education in Educational Psychology (University of Regina). She comes to the U of L having held leadership roles within the post-secondary sector and government. In her current human resources role (Manager, Talent development, Public Service Commission), she is a key member of the Inclusion Talent Team, where her efforts focus on the implementation of inclusion strategies, plans and actions for the Government of Saskatchewan.

As an international student who came to Canada from her native St. Lucia, she understands the struggles of being an outsider navigating uncomfortable spaces. Her master’s and doctoral work studying critical race theory and then her career in internationalization set her on a path to where she engaged in work related to anti-racism and equity.

“This position is the next right step for me because it allows me to stay true to my academic roots and do the administrative work I really enjoy,” says Mathurin-Moe. “There’s just something about a post-secondary environment you can’t get in any other setting and when I looked at this role, I saw it was put together very strategically and very intentionally. You see a lot of postings about diversity and equity and in this I saw an institution committed to doing the really hard work, because there's a lot of hard work ahead of us to get this done properly.”

She sees her role as a facilitator and strategist for EDI initiatives, recognizing there is valuable expertise on campus in faculty members, who have worked extensively in that space, as well as student, faculty and staff groups advocating for change.

“My goal is to bring us together comprehensively to make sure the strategy truly allows us to build a sustainable, equitable and inclusive space where all students, faculty, staff and the community feel they belong. “By no means am I all knowing because I don't think anybody is. I’ll never position myself as having all the answers, and I truly believe collective minds are more impactful.”

When Mathurin-Moe references the hard work that needs to be done in the EDI space, she’s speaking about difficult conversations that shed light on systemic issues and then educating and enacting strategies on how change can take place.

“I believe people are innately good; I think they're sometimes not aware of their blind spots, and how those blind spots can impact and marginalize specific groups or persons in specific situations,” she says. “I think if we are truly going to do anti-racist work, we have to be OK having those tough conversations. And you know what, making the mistake is OK; people have to understand that there will be mistakes made because it's a new space everybody's navigating. My concerns are in not acknowledging that you've made a mistake, and not apologizing. The fact that people are thinking about how to be respectful and mindful of approaching these issues is the first step of moving forward.”

Mathurin-Moe will begin her role as Executive Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, on September 6, 2021.