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A message from our CEO on anti-racism and the need for change in our ecosystem

June 3, 2020

For weeks, we’ve been grappling with a pandemic — one of the greatest health challenges humanity has ever faced.

Now we are being pulled into historic political challenges, too. Many people in our community are grappling with racism, inequality and a lack of diversity and inclusion.

It’s vitally important that we raise these issues with our kids, our friends and our coworkers. No one is unaffected by racism and we are all angry and horrified by the senseless killings across the border, and frustrated by the slow progress at home.

Most of us live in a world of privilege, and this needs to be addressed from the points of view of people who do not come from that privilege — people who do not have the right mentors, go to the right schools or who experience being stereotyped or stigmatized or marginalized because of the colour of their skin, their accents, their dress code or the communities they come from.

I also believe that at the root of this, racism isn’t just about the blatant acts of racist things that everyone can easily call out. It is about the insidious, and embedded ways decisions get made, that contaminates mindsets and creates tacit support for discriminatory outcomes.

To paraphrase the poet and writer Scott Woods:

“No one is born racist. It is a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. And for the privileged, racism is a thing that you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

So what will MaRS do?  

First, it starts in our own house. We will notice, call racism out, create new pathways and address our own gaps and the low quotient of black and indigenous MaRSians. To this end, I will convene an internal council to engage and build the pipeline of leaders inside MaRS that will address our own inequities.

Second, I am inviting leaders from the tech ecosystem to come together to transform the industry from the inside out at a time when the transformation of the entire economy is dependent upon the ingenuity of our startups connecting with incumbent businesses. We will engage with our partners, entrepreneurs and networks with the goal of creating a new movement that will lead to catalytic change.

MaRS has a lot to offer young people from racialized communities, and they in turn can teach us about their experiences along the way. I look forward to hearing from them, and learning from them.

— Yung Wu, CEO, MaRS