Don Giovanni - U of T Opera 2018

ARAO Statement

The University of Toronto Faculty of Music is committed to anti-racism policies and anti-oppression approaches that promote racial equity and strive to dismantle hierarchical structures that disempower and marginalize social groups.

We recognize all types of diversity, including but not limited to ethnicity, race, size, gender, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, religion and ability.

Our mandate is to create a culture of mutual respect whereby everyone can safely express themselves, engage with each other, and respect one another’s differences.

We recognize that western art music practices have for centuries perpetuated harmful racial and gender stereotypes, and we regret that our own students and colleagues from underrepresented groups have experienced discrimination within our community.

As a Canadian institution, we recognize our pressing responsibility to recruit, engage, and hire Indigenous and Black musicians.

This statement expresses our long-term collective commitment to ending these injustices and moving toward a model of university-based study of music that represents the diverse values of our students and the larger Faculty of Music community.

Community Announcements and News

October 19, 2021
With thanks to 2021-22 ARAO Committee member and DMA candidate Camille Rogers, the Faculty of Music website has a series of articles showcasing faculty, student, and alumni-led initiatives championing equity in the arts: 

What kinds of change do we want to see in musical spaces? Professor Antía González Ben discusses her research and hopes for the future of music education.

Looking at music-making from many different angles – Professor Lyndsey Copeland discusses her research and addressing the inequities embedded in the field of ethnomusicology

Introducing the Anti-Racism Alliance in the Arts (ARIA)

Alumni-led organizations Marigold Music Program & Opera InReach address systemic barriers in traditional music education


September 20, 2021
The ARAO Committee is undergoing a careful reconstitution by Dean Ellie Hisama in consultation with faculty members. Once this process has been completed the committee will share more about its plans.

On September 15, Dean Hisama announced that law firm Rubin Thomlinson will facilitate the Climate and Culture Review within the Faculty of Music. The review is due to start this week. It is too early to confirm when the review will be completed.

Dean Hisama notes in her message: “change will not happen instantly, but it is [our] strong belief that this review marks the beginning of a new era for the Faculty of Music”.

The Faculty of Music welcomes Heather Hines, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Vice-President and Principal at the University of Toronto Mississauga for the fall 2021 term. Heather will provide administrative support to assist us with the Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Committee and with the external Climate and Culture Review, among other responsibilities.


July 23, 2021
New Dean Ellie Hisama began her term on July 1, 2021 and this is her first message to the Faculty of Music Community.

Ellie Hisama web

July 15, 2021

To all members of the Faculty of Music community,

I deeply appreciate the support, kindness, and words of welcome that you have offered in my first few days at the University of Toronto. It is exciting to begin my work as Dean of the Faculty of Music and I look forward to getting to know everyone in our community in the weeks ahead.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself before offering a more extended introduction at the start of the fall term. I moved to Toronto after living in New York City for over two decades, attracted by the prospect of moving to Canada and working at the University of Toronto, which is an institution I have long admired. My training is in classical music as a music theorist and performer; my work has focused on community engagement, music by women and BIPOC composers and musicians, popular music studies, and inclusive teaching and learning.

I want to assure students, alumni, staff, and faculty that equity will be central to my leadership at the Faculty of Music. I am acutely aware that I am arriving at a challenging time. I have heard first-hand from some of you about concerns regarding our teaching, learning, and working environments. I want to thank the many people who are already working to bring about much needed change. Ensuring that the Faculty of Music is a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment in which we can all excel is my first priority as the new Dean.

In order to fully understand the concerns of our community and to plan and implement the change that is needed within the Faculty, I have commissioned a Climate and Culture Review of the Faculty of Music, which is one of several steps we will take together towards the healing and restoration urgently needed at the Faculty. My decision to undertake this review is to ensure that we have in place a positive and supportive Faculty culture that provides the conditions necessary for everyone to do their best work.

This external review will examine issues of culture, leadership, and morale, in order to understand the extent to which the teaching, learning, and working environments of our community reflect our shared commitment to inclusiveness, belonging, respect, and concern for the safety and mental health of all in our community.

To assist our Faculty in this regard, I will be engaging an independent third-party to conduct the Climate and Culture Review. Additional information about the reviewer, the scope and mandate of the review, and the process and timeline will be forthcoming shortly. This process will directly engage our faculty (tenure-stream and teaching-stream), including contractually limited term and part-time appointments, as well as librarians, staff, sessional instructors, undergraduate and graduate students (MA, MMus, DMA, and PhD) and members of the Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Committee, and the Faculty of Music student organizations (Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association, Faculty of Music Anti-Racist Alliance, and Music Graduate Students’ Association).

This process will be impartial and confidential, allowing me to learn about the experiences and observations of all members of our community. At the end of the assessment, I will receive a confidential report as Dean, and to the extent possible, I will share a summary of the findings and recommendations.

I am impressed by the good will and determination exhibited by the community at the Faculty of Music to work together to create a healthy, safe, and positive working and learning environment. I ask for your support and full involvement in this review. I look forward to working with all of you towards positive change, creating a community in which everyone can thrive and experience the joy of studying, teaching, writing about, and making music together.


Ellie M. Hisama
Dean, Faculty of Music
Professor of Music
University of Toronto


June 25, 2021
ARAO Committee member Tyler Greenleaf has been named to U of T’s Division of University Advancement Office’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The EDI Task Force aims to embed equity, diversity and inclusion best practices across all advancement functions within the University of Toronto tri-campus community. The Task Force will make recommendations for principles, strategies, outcomes, goals and measures that articulate a comprehensive and meaningful commitment to the values of equity, diversity and inclusion in Advancement at U of T, and that provide a pathway for implementation. The final report of the task force is expected to be completed at the end of September 2021.

June 9, 2021
Following a recommendation to the Dean and the Senior Leadership Group from the ARAO Committee as well as to address request #4 of 4 in the FMUA Open Letter “to add the role of an in-house Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Officer within the Faculty of Music.”, the Faculty of Music has been given permission and budget support from the Provost to recruit a Human Resources – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion specialist. We expect that the hiring process will take place over the summer with a person in the role in Fall 2021.

June 2, 2021
The Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression (ARAO) committee of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music stands in solidarity with the Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association (FMUA) and those who have signed the Open Letter. We hear you and pledge to work with you towards concrete change in university policies to better protect all students. 

May 27, 2021
The Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association released an Open Letter on May 23 and is endorsed by the ARAO Committee.

Dean Don McLean released a statement in response to the FMUA Open Letter – “We pledge to take immediate and ongoing actions to prioritize and enhance student safety.”

May 7, 2021
Noon: The ARAO Committee co-chairs issue a message to the Faculty of Music community “to reaffirm our position of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual violence”.
9:00 AM: Dean Don McLean issues a message to the Faculty of Music community.
1 PM: Chair of Voice Studies Monica Whicher issues a message to members of the U of T Voice Studies Community.  
2 PM: Opera Area Head Sandra Horst issues a letter to the U of T Opera Community.

April 15, 2021
From UofT News: “The University of Toronto’s Anti-Black Racism Task Force has delivered its final report, which includes more than 50 action-oriented measures and solutions to tackle anti-Black racism and promote Black inclusion and excellence on the university’s three campuses. The university administration has accepted all 56 recommendations.”

April 8, 2021
U of T Jazz Studies has recently posted an update to their AREDI Committee Action update, available here.

March  25, 2021
Congratulations to FoMARA and their collaboration with the Faculty of Music Library on their online exhibit Polyphony: Diversity in Music!

Polyphony: Diversity in Music fosters dialogue with BIPOC/racialized musicians, highlighting these individuals’ voices alongside the works and people who inspire them. Throughout this exhibit, we seek to create a safe space for U of T students and faculty to equally engage with issues of diversity in music in a North American context.”

February 19, 2021
The Centre for Indigenous Studies and the Worlding Initiative, University of Toronto are co-hosting a roundtable on February 26 from noon- 2pm: Decolonizing the University and Treaty Responsibilities 

On Nov 18, 2020, Professors Susan Hill and Pamela Klassen presented a resolution to the Arts and Science council that  “calls on Faculty leadership and administration, as well as the whole Faculty community, to better understand our treaty obligations. More specifically, it calls for reflecting on past and current efforts of the Six Nations, as well as other Indigenous Nations, on whose traditional land the University and the Faculty are situated, to remind us of our ongoing treaty responsibilities.”

Following the call to share the resolution with students and faculty, we have created a link for the resolution together with an informative article by Professor Susan Hill on Treaty relations.

The purpose of the Roundtable is to engage in collective reflection on the resolution and how we can support it. As Indigenous and settler scholars based at U of T whose research takes us into different corners of the world we are often positioned as guests on someone else’s land. While visiting, we take on the responsibility of learning about the history of our hosts; we observe their rules and respect their jurisdiction.   What would it take for all of us to engage seriously in “visitor” practices vis a vis our Indigenous hosts here at U of T?  What does it mean to live and work on Treaty Lands?  What opportunities do we have to leverage our positions as employees, as students, and as faculty to act on the resolution’s call for us to meet “our ongoing treaty responsibilities”?

Roundtable chair:  Cheryl Suzack, English and Indigenous Studies
Panelists: Michelle Daigle, Susan Hill and Pamela Klassen

Please register for the roundtable here:
When: Feb 26, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)–qrDMrGNDQID8lCvUYatxbxGEbikaa

January 28, 2021
The initial Call to Action from U of T Music alumni had three requests for the strategic planning process. The third request was “A commitment to allocating increased and ongoing funding towards regularly-occurring professional development training for faculty and staff in the fields of a) anti-oppression, b) workplace harassment and c) diverse pedagogy- and curriculum-planning.”

The Faculty is hosting an Anti-Racism Training Workshop on February 25, 2021 and a Sexual and Gender Diversity Workshop on March 25, 2021 (previous Sexual and Gender Diversity Workshops have been held for Faculty of Music faculty and staff in previous years). Faculty of Music faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to attend. Log in details may be found in the January 26 Faculty Council meeting reports. These training workshops will continue to be made available each year.

December 17, 2020
The ARAO Committee has established a Statement for the Faculty of Music that was confirmed by the Committee on December 11.

October 28, 2020
The establishment of the Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Committee was approved by Faculty Council on September 29. Almost all faculty positions for the ARAO Committee have been filled and were approved at the October 27 Faculty Council meeting. Professor Bina John and Professor Midori Koga are the committee co-chairs. Staff and student positions will be filled in the subsequent month.

September 23, 2020
From an announcement from the Provost’s Office: “The University of Toronto is establishing an institutional Anti-Black Racism Task Force that will develop and propose a set of actionable recommendations to the President, Vice-President & Provost, and the Vice- President, Human Resources & Equity.

The task force will focus on identifying the barriers experienced by Black students, staff, faculty, librarians, instructors, and researchers across the University. It will also examine previous reports, consultations, and feedback from the University community on anti-Black racism.

The task force will review University processes, practices, and policies to understand how they impact systemic anti-Black racism on campus. The actionable steps that will be presented to the President, Provost, and Vice-President will be built on the ongoing equity and inclusion work implemented by various University units and additional consultation with the University community. We expect that the recommended changes will strengthen the University of Toronto’s mandate to create a more respectful, equitable, diverse, and inclusive community. The task force’s final report will be presented by March 31, 2021.”

September 17, 2020
The University of Toronto and Canadian universities and colleges across the country are coming together to facilitate a national conversation to develop concrete actions for change in higher education and in our communities. The National Dialogues are a series of national forums focused on addressing equity and inclusion in Canadian post-secondary education. The first in the series is a National Dialogue that will focus on anti-Black racism and Black inclusion in Canadian higher education, and will take place on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (ET).

September 16, 2020
The AREDI workgroup met multiple times in August and created 5 goals (see Action) and also created document that outlines a proposed Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Committee (includes membership, quorum, meetings, and purview and functions sections). This proposal was sent to the Dean and the Senior Leadership Group for comment and discussion. Next step will involve feedback from them and further refinement before a goal of submitting for Faculty Council approval.

September 8, 2020
Notice of Scholar Strike Canada: “Scholar Strike is a labour action/teach-in/social justice advocacy happening on September 9-10, 2020. September 9 & 10 were chosen as the dates of the Scholar Strike in Canada because, for many of us, the academic year begins on these dates. These days were also chosen because of their proximity to Labour Day.”  A program of public digital teach-ins is available here.

August 31, 2020
This website was launched.

August 25, 2020
It was recommended by the FMUA current student Call to Action to create an admissions scholarship for Black and Indigenous students. For primarily privacy legislation reasons we cannot create an admissions scholarship, but can make a scholarship for first-year Black and Indigenous students.

The Black and Indigenous Musical Excellence Scholarship was created and can now be donated to here.