Wayne Dunkley moved across the country to help reframe conversations around equity
Bridget Stringer-Holden (she/her) // News Editor
Wayne Dunkley (he/him) has been thinking about equity long before becoming Capilano University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Advisor last November. Dunkley has been a university consultant for numerous years, working in Toronto prior to his arrival in Vancouver.
“As a consultant, I’m often just parachuting in when there’s a big problem,” said Dunkley, noting that the short timespan of his visits felt inadequate when trying to change the ways people relate to each other. “Often when we think about equity, it’s about sort of transferring information — like if we know all these things about these people groups, then you will “do equity” — I don’t think that that really works in the long term.”
Dunkley found himself wanting a community-based approach, where he could help foster long-term relationships — something CapU’s advisor position had the potential for. “I was really interested in the team approach to EDI that [CapU] is working with,” he said. “For me, it was worth driving across the country for.”
Since it is part of Student Affairs, Dunkley’s role is primarily student-facing. He ensures to prioritize students by being available for conversations relating to EDI at CapU, whether that is a concern that a student may have relating to course content, or an interpersonal conflict. This could also include helping students through the formal complaint process.
Throughout March, Dunkley also held weekly conversations with students from various groups who shared their lived experience with attendees. The idea originated in February when two students shared what it was like being Black during Black History Month at CapU. This has since been extended to include conversations with those who are Indigenous, 2STNB and LGBTQ. Each conversation begins with students sharing their stories, followed by discussions about what those experiences meant to everyone else in attendance.
“I think creating opportunities for curiosity about each other is a really solid way to talk about equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Dunkley. “We’re mixing students with staff and faculty in a very different setting than people normally engage with each other.”
Dunkley also uses artistic avenues to explore what it means to be in relationship with each other and how we can strengthen those relationships. “I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the experiences that have happened over the years — when people have called me things or I’ve felt that opportunities haven’t come my way because of racism or other issues — and I realized as an artist that using photography was a way to start asking some of these questions,” Dunkley shared.
He has been a photographer and a digital artist for over 20 years, running workshops in communities to try and find new ways to talk about equity, diversity and inclusion.“I realized that using photography, and even using social media, helps to put it out there where normally these kinds of things don’t get that much time.”
Even though he brings new perspectives on EDI to CapU, Dunkley recognizes that he’s only one person in a university of 12,700 people. However, he feels that his new position — and the addition of a Vice President of People and Culture to focus on EDI at the university executive level — are a step in the right direction.
“We keep wishing that things would change or transform, but we keep asking the same question. Then, we keep bumping our heads up against the same problems,” said Dunkley. “[Now] we’re starting on a process together — a process of reflecting on EDI at CapU and what it could mean for us going forward. Maybe we’ll be able to start a different kind of conversation on the way we are with each other.”
Students are welcome to drop in and meet with Dunkley in Library 116 on Mondays 2-3pm and Fridays 11-12pm. Dunkley is also available via Zoom or MS Teams, and encourages students to also reach out by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.