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New lounge a place of togetherness for BIPOC people at UNB

Press Release

Jan 26, 2024

When Hillary Nguyen joined the student affairs and services staff at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 2017, there were not many people of colour in the department.

“Being new to the role, I felt very alone,” Nguyen said. “It was hard to find BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) allies on campus at the time. I felt that I had no outlet to discuss my lived experience.”

Since then, Hillary has done considerable learning in the space of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and has been implementing these learnings into her role as an international student transition advisor.

“The reality is that BIPOC experiences are different,” said Nguyen. “There are still barriers to opportunity, safety and well-being.”

Her newfound interest in the anti-racism framework also led her to her role as a crucial organizing member of the BIPOC unity lounge drop-in.

The BIPOC lounge is a bi-campus monthly social and community gathering open to all self-identified BIPOC students, faculty and staff. These gatherings focus on community support, encouragement, affirmations and self-discovery.

The lounge seeks to bring BIPOC communities together to discuss racism and decolonization in the context of higher education and within the university. It is also a space to come together and process difficult world events that might impact BIPOC communities.

In 2021, after the horrific shooting rampage in Atlanta wherein six Asian-American women were killed, Hillary’s mental health suffered.

“That really affected me,” she said. “And carrying out my role in supporting UNB’s international students was difficult as a result. It can feel uncomfortable to address these topics in day-to-day conversation, which is why the BIPOC lounge is so crucial. It’s a forum and space where we can process world events alongside people with similar lived experiences.”

Because of the pandemic, the lounge was put on hold for two years. Now, it’s back and reinvigorated with new faces in the mix – Nadia Richards, associate VP human rights and equity at UNB and Saa Andrews, cultural diversity coordinator at St. Thomas University, are helping lead and coordinate events.

“We could talk about our long-term goals for the lounge all day,” Nguyen laughed, “But at its heart, it’s a place of togetherness for BIPOC people at UNB. It’s a space for supporting and learning from each other that provides a sense of community and place. We hope it provides a meaningful experience for everyone involved.”

Upcoming BIPOC lounge events

Fredericton campus
Friday, Jan. 26, 6 – 8 p.m.
HIL Innovation Hub

Fredericton campus
Friday, March 15, 6 – 8 p.m.
HIL Innovation Hub

Fredericton campus
Friday, April 12, 6 – 8 p.m.
HIL Innovation Hub

Saint John campus
Tuesday, Feb. 6, noon – 1 p.m.
Oland Hall, Rm 120

Saint John campus
Thursday, March 21, noon – 1 p.m.
Oland Hall, Rm 120

Saint John campus
Thursday, April 9, noon – 1 p.m.
Oland Hall, Rm. 120

Register now
Registration is not required but helps with planning for food and beverages.

To get involved, or if you have any questions, contact: Hillary Nguyen or Nadia Richards.

ILR5

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