To the Engineers Without Borders Canada Board of Directors:
Due to the continued increasingly upsetting news in regard to EWB Canada’s continuous methods of handling harassment cases, including sexual violence cases within the organization, the UofA Chapter has decided to officially boycott the Day of Action as a part of the Spring Leadership Retreat (SLR) being held this weekend (May 4th-6th, 2019) in Ottawa to refrain from participating in the upcoming advocacy campaign, in solidarity with the McGill Chapter.
Based on our knowledge of EWB is that the NGO has a mission to create systems change in society. We (Tamanna – President & Bridgitt – Riding Captain & Advocacy Lead) have found our voices with the involvement of this organization and have felt empowered to do good, to create radical impact and have our voices heard. We have attended the first two days of the SLR and are not impressed with the leadership of National Office in handling the tension and questions of the community members in regard to how EWB is handling the accusations of sexual violence against the organization. We echo the sentiments of the McGill chapter as outlined by their letter. “However, in relation to your misogynistic response to those in your organization who have had traumatic experiences tied to sexual violence and discrimination and have subsequently sought justice (but instead experienced backlash), we could not feel more disappointed and betrayed by you. What we have learned from EWB is that we cannot stand idly by when injustices are taking place, and that is the very attitude we are enacting in response to this case.” (McGill’s letter, May 4th, 2019).
It is in our due diligence to let everyone know what happened at the EWBetter breakout session held on May 5, 2019. The meeting was one of the most tense and uncomfortable situations that we have been in. The leadership continued to use PR techniques of active listening to vehemently “waste” the conversation time, taking away from the purpose of the session. All the community members asked for was transparency and acknowledgment of the harassment cases that EWB has been involved with; we did not receive any of that from National Office. As they continue to disregard us, we will disregard them.
We will not support the organization but instead focus on the success of our chapter until the four demands that have been outlined by the McGill Chapter as follows have been met.
1) Ban Non-Disclosure Agreements within EWB in relation to sexual harassment or discrimination
2) Open an independent investigation on the harassment case which occurred in Malawi in 2011, and any other cases, including:
a) The role of the Board of Directors in dealing with this situation
b) The historical and recent role of EWB employees in regards to this situation
c) The role of CEO, Boris Martin, within this situation
3) Publicly apologize on behalf on the entire organization for the complete failure in dealing with situations of sexual harassment and discrimination
4) Immediately establish a counseling fund which women and survivors on staff have access to
These sentiments are ours (Bridgitt & Tamanna) based on the experiences that we have had at SRL and will be discussing with our chapter before we release another statement.
Tamanna Haque & Bridgitt Hornibrook
President, & Riding Captain, Engineers Without Borders – University of Alberta Chapter