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TRU Investigation: What do we know, and what actions are needed?

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

On Wednesday, November 24th, when I finished preparing my lecture for social policy class, I decided to check Facebook private messages, as my phone was buzzing. I received several requests from my colleagues and friends who read newspaper articles, watched CBC, and listened to local radio about the TRU investigation. The messages came as far as from Australia with questions: Have you read this?

After the class, when I read and listened to all messages, I was able to find more information about the TRU investigation online and here is what I have found:

Jessica Wallace from Kamloops This Week provided extensive coverage of the investigation process:

·       TRU investigation: Waiving NDAs a victory for complainants Nov 23, 2021 10:00 PM

·       TRU investigation: University responds to query from KTW on probe Nov 23, 2021 10:06 PM

·       TRU investigation: University board probing complaint against two senior executives Nov 23, 2021 10:14 PM

·       TRU president sends letter to faculty, staff about investigation of complaint against senior executives Nov 24, 2021 3:22 PM

·       TRU Faculty Association, support staff union respond to Investigation of complaint against senior executives Nov 24, 2021 3:41 PM

The investigation was also covered by Radio NLThe ProvinceAldergrove StarCFJCCASTANETUniversity AffairsMaple Ridge NewsThe New Zealand Times,

Daybreak Kamloops with Shelley Joyce offers two segments. One aired on November 24th, on “TRU investigating behaviours of two senior leaders at the University.” The segment presents the allegations in a formal letter of complaint directed at two senior-level administrators from a dozen former and current employees and faculty members at Thompson Rivers University, making claims of bullying and harassment. The second, “Reaction continues to allegations against two TRU administrators”, is a follow-up with many reactions to the original story alleging misconduct by two senior administrators at Thompson Rivers University. After watching and listening to 30 minutes of people sharing concerns about the TRU work environment on the radio, it is becoming clear that the investigation will affect everyone who is connected to TRU in Kamloops, BC, Canada and internationally.

Millions of people will wait to hear the internal investigation results and how TRU addresses these allegations. There are allegations of anti-Indigenous racism, bullying behaviour, and sexual harassment, as the news has been broadcast in Canada and worldwide. More stories have emerged and are shared publicly and privately, and the nature and scope of allegations are expanding.

CBC warns its readers that the story contains distressing details before introducing the article on harassment, bullying, racism allegations against two senior leaders at B.C. university under investigation. When kids experience bullying and need help, they are advised to call or text  (877) 352-4497 or email Support Team 24/7/365 at: Support@BullyingCanada.ca. Adult bullying is also a thing. One can check seven tips for how to deal with being bullied as an adult. 

The news is triggering. Anyone who has experienced abuse of power, misogyny, sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, ableism, ageism, bullying, harassment, neglect and other forms of violence can be re-traumatized by the news. Thank you to everyone who had needed support at this time to speak up, share the truth, and seek justice. I believe social justice will prevail, and those who abuse power in their roles will find a way to recognize the harm they do to individuals, groups, and their communities and be held accountable for their actions/inactions. I also hope the university leadership, current and future, will recognize that the truth will come up one day. There is a lot of work ahead to rebuild the relationships with everyone affected by the news. Trying to silence people by keeping those who are under investigation in power is unacceptable. Survivors of power abuse know that silence and inaction prolong the violence.  

The TRU president and chair of the Board of Governors reminded that the university’s reputation might be in jeopardy.  TRU faculty, staff, students, current and alumni, locally and globally, want TRU values, mission, and vision statements to be practiced. Yes, TRU‘s  reputation is in jeopardy, and inaction of those who have the power to act will create more distrust and will require a lot of time to rebuild relationships that were harmed.

There is no more time to keep silencing people. It is time to act. First, those under investigation must be on paid leave to allow everyone to speak up without fear of retaliation. Then, investigators have a lot of work to listen to stories from those who are willing to share and recommend ways to move forward. The world is watching now. Those who experienced abuse of power need to have a way to address injustices they have experienced as the current system cannot be trusted with so many people raising concerns that have gone unanswered. Even one is too many for a university that has the vision to become: “Community-minded with a global conscience, we boldly redefine the university as a place of belonging.”

Current faculty, students and staff, alumni, donors, TRU local and global communities need to keep the pressure on the university administration to uphold TRU’s vision and mission. It is critical to create processes that protect survivors of abuse and challenge injustices, fight against bullying,  harassment and other forms of workplace violence. Current TRU processes are not working, and local and global media are now involved in bringing the needed changes at TRU.

People who benefit from the decisions of those who abuse power need to be reminded that the truth will come up one day. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes fifteen years, 150 years or more/less, but future generations will know who practiced /shared love, and care with others and who abused power and focused on self-interest and interests for those in power.

As Elder Benakonda Kennedy-Kish Bell from the Centre of Indigegogy at Wilfrid Laurier University shared in the recent retreat I attended, the “kind honesty” is required to bring the needed change and achieve the stated vision and mission. Thank you to all who practice kind honesty. Together we can find a way TRU can accomplish its mission and vision.

As I close this post, I hope that every survivor of workplace bullying, harassment and violence find a way to seek truth and justice, and their voice will not be silenced by those who have the power to address the concerns. Through the broad TRU community, I hope to show our youth, students, and future generations how to practice TRU values. Toxic silence and inaction from those who hold power should stop.

For those seeking support after reading this post, here are some of the links that might be helpful:

TRU Students can access the following services on campus:

Wellness Center: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/wellness.html

Counselling Services: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/counselling.html

Multi-Faith Chaplaincy: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/chaplaincy.html

Sexualized Violence and Response: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/sexual-violence.html

All members of the TRU Community might have access to support and guidance under the institutional Sexualized Violence policy (BRD 25-0).

Respectful Workplace and Harassment Prevention, BRD 17-0 https://www.tru.ca/__shared/assets/BRD_17-0_Respectful_Workplace_and_Harassment_Prevention47390.pdf  

The list of Sexual Assault Centres, Crisis Lines, and Support Services across Canada:

Please feel free to add your resources to support workplace violence survivors, as support services offered within the workplace might be unacceptable and unsafe for victims of power abuse.

Twelve-Step Guide to Resources in Kamloops and Southern BC to Support Flood Evacuees (State of Emergency)

Compiled by Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov, PhD

Updated November 18, 2021

PDF Link


Step 1: Review Useful Resource Guides.

Step 2: Check States of Emergency, Evacuation Orders and Alerts.

Step 3: Find Access to Emergency Support Services (ESS)

Step 4: Review Emergency Support Services (ESS) Step by Step Guide.

Step 5: Find Sandbag Locations.

Step 6: Share Information for Weather and Travel Resources.

Step 7: Plan ahead: Preparedness and Recovery Resources.

Step 8 Care for Pets and Livestock.

Step 9 Prepare for Clean Up and Returning Home.

Step 10 Practice Self-Care and Mental Well-Being.

Step 11: Find Online Community: (social media updates, and resources)

Step 12: Share Resources: Ways to Donate.

Step 1: Review Useful Resource Guides

Step 2: Check States of Emergency, Evacuation Orders and Alerts

Step 3: Find Access to Emergency Support Services (ESS)

Step 4: Review Emergency Support Services (ESS) Step by Step Guide

  • Step 1: Self-register online at ess.gov.bc.ca. If you require assistance with self-registration you can ask for help by calling the Emergency Support Services Info Line: 1-800-585-9559.
  • Step 2: Proceed to the nearest Reception Centre (listed below) to complete the ESS registration. You will also be asked to complete a needs assessment to determine what short-term supports you require (e.g. food, lodging, clothing and incidentals). Tip: After you register, you may receive calls from unlisted numbers regarding your evacuee registration. Make sure your voicemail box is not full so ESS volunteers can leave a message.
  • Emergency Support Services (ESS) Reception Centre Locations: Please check updated locations https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/current-flooding-information-2/
    • Agassiz:
      • Agassiz Agricultural Hall, 6800 Pioneer Avenue (for evacuees from the Hwy #7 slides)
    • Chilliwack:
      • Chilliwack Secondary, 46363 Yale Road
  • Flood Watch Warning and Closures – chilliwack.com/FloodWatch
    • Chilliwack ESS Reception Centre located at the Chilliwack Landing Sports Centre – 45530 Spadina Avenue
  • Cowichan Valley Regional District:
    • Cowichan Community Centre – 2687 James St, Duncan, BC V9L 2X5
    • Cowichan Tribes Gym – 5574 River Rd, Duncan, BC V9L 6V9 250-732-1475
    • Hope:
      • Grace Baptist Church, 949 3 Ave, Hope, BC V0X 1L0
      • Hope Secondary School, 444 Stuart St, Hope, BC V0X 1L0
      • Coquihalla River and Silver-Hope Creek remain high and fast flowing.  Residents are reminded to stay clear of fast moving water and river banks.  Staff continue to monitor the situation.  Hope Secondary School (444 Stuart St.) is open if you leave your home at this time.
    • Kelowna:
      • Parkinson Activity Centre, 1700 Parkinson Way
    • Kamloops:
      • McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, 1655 Island Parkway
      • Kamloops Food Bank – 171 Wilson St, Kamloops, BC V2B 2M8 (250) 376-2252
      • https://www.facebook.com/thetree2020/  planning to open our centre (657 Seymour Street) on Saturday from 10 – 4 so that evacuee’s can have access to our donation room. We have clothes for babies, children, and women. We do not have much for men unfortunately. We also have baby equipment, new bottles, and some diapers (size one). We will be bringing all donations up to our main floor and setting them up for ease of access
      • https://www.facebook.com/NoLimitsFitnessCanada With all of the catastrophic flooding happening, No Limits Fitness would like to do our part in the community by opening our doors to anyone displaced by the flooding or road closures. Please present ID at front desk!
    • Lillooet
      • Lillooet Friendship Centre: Community Cares Building
      • 76 5th Avenue (please pre-register as above)
      • Evacuation Orders: An Evacuation Order has been issued by the District of Kent Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) due to the potential danger to life and health for the following area: Rockwell Drive: Rockwell Drive, north to Lillooet Road Reception Centre for Displaced Residents The Emergency Operations Centre at Municipal Hall will be open until 6:00 pm for phone enquiries only. For after hours emergencies, please call 911. If you do not require emergency support services (ie, accommodation, food, etc) please register online.
    • RDOS / Penticton:
      • Bus Barn, 199 Ellis Street Penticton
      • If they you have access to use a phone safely, please call Penticton ESS at 1-833-498-3770 as soon as possible.
      • If you cannot access a phone, please go to 2965 South Main Street, Penticton (Penticton Seniors’ Drop-In Centre)
    • Salmon Arm:
      • The Prestige, 251 Harbourfront Drive Open from 8 AM to 6 PM until further notice

Step 5: Find Sandbag Locations

  • Abbotsford Abbotsford Residents requiring sand & sandbags can attend the City of Abbotsford Works Yard located at 31739 King Rd.  Sand & Bags are located outside the main gates.  Please bring a shovel with you to fill the bags.
  • Chilliwack The City has supplied sandbags and sand at Townsend Park (45130 Wolfe Rd)
  • Mission The City of Mission has free sandbags available for collection from the Public Works car park at 33835 Dewdney Trunk Rd. The public is asked to go to the parking lot gate west of the building.
  • Oak Bay Residents are able to get sandbags at the Public Works yard located at 1771 Elgin Road. Please report any flooding to Public Works at 250-598-4501.
  • Port Coquitlam We will be making sand and sandbags available for residents. Residents can pick the bags up at the entrance of our Works Yard (1737 Broadway).
  • Sooke Sandbag station is open at the #Sooke Parks Works Yard, 2070 Kaltasin Road. Sandbags and sand are provided at no charge. Please bring your own shovel.  Learn more: http://sooke.link/1cha
  • Tulameen Sand and sandbags are available at the Tulameen and District Fire Hall. You can also find updated sand and sandbagging locations, as well as an informational video at: https://emergency.rdos.bc.ca
  • Kamloops (Previous floods) https://www.castanetkamloops.net/news/Kamloops/298299/Here-s-a-list-of-where-you-can-find-sand-and-sandbags-in-Kamloops

Step 6: Share Information for Weather and Travel Resources

●      Severe Weather https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/weather/severeweather.html  

Step 7: Plan ahead: Preparedness and Recovery Resources

●      PreparedBC This is the government website for disaster readiness information. It has flood Information for Homeowners and Home Buyers, including tips on preparing for floods, and protecting your home and property. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-your-hazards/floods

●      Disaster Financial Assistance Those impacted by recent flooding may apply to the Province for Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) where losses could not be insured or where other programs are not available. Information regarding DFA may be obtained from:

Emergency Management BC Phone: 1-888-257-4777 Email: dfa@gov.bc.ca Website: www.gov.bc.ca/disasterfinancialassistance

Financial assistance in a disaster https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/preparedbc/evacuee-guidance/disaster-financial-assistance#step1

Disaster Financial Assistance for local communities https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/local-emergency-programs/financial/communities-dfa

Step 8 Care for Pets and Livestock

Step 9 Prepare for Clean Up and Returning Home

Step 10 Practice Self-Care and Mental Well-Being

  • 310 Mental Health Support offers 24-hour emotional support and information and referral services, call 310-1234 (no area code required).
  • Canadian Mental Health Association offers mental health tips  https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/coping-through-a-natural-disaster-emergency/ for you and your family on coping through a natural disaster emergency.
  • Bounce Back  https://bouncebackbc.ca/ is a free program teaching effective skills to overcome symptoms of mild to moderate depression or anxiety and improve their mental health, suitable for people who have suffered fear, anxiety and loss from stressful events such as a disaster.
  • For those needing immediate crisis emotional support, call 1-833-546-4566.
  • If you are concerned for the immediate safety or yourself or someone else, call a local crisis support line or 911 right away.
  • All of BC:

1800SUICIDE (24 hours): 1-800-784-2433 310

Mental Health Support (24 hours): 310-6789

Toll Free (24 hours): 1-800-588-8717

Adult/Elders Crisis Line (24 hours): (250) 723-4050

Child/Youth Crisis Line (24 hours): (250) 723-2040

Youth Text (6pm-12am): (778) 783-0177

Youth Chat (6pm-12am): www.youthspace.ca

Toll Free (24 hours): 1-888-353-CARE (2273)

 Crisis Chat Service http://www.interiorcrisisline.com/crisischat

Toll Free (24 hours): 1-866-661-3311

Toll Free TTY (24 hours): 1-866-872-0113

Crisis Chat: crisiscentrechat.ca http://crisiscentrechat.ca/

Toll Free (24 hours): 1-877-820-7444

Crisis Line (24 hours): (604) 951-8855

Toll Free: 1-888-852-9099

Crisis Line: (604) 852-9099

Toll Free (24 hours): 1-888-562-1214

Crisis Line (24 hours): (250) 563-1214

Toll Free Youth Support: 1-888-564-8336

Youth Support: (250) 564-8336 Crisis Chat: www.northernyouthonline.ca

Crisis Line (8am-12am): (604) 279-7070

Cantonese Crisis Line (10am-10pm): (604) 270-8233

Mandarin Crisis Line (10am-10pm): (604) 270-8222

Toll Free (24 hours): 1-888-494-3888

Crisis Text: (250) 800-3806

Crisis Chat: www.vicrisis.ca

Step 11: Find Online Community: (social media updates, and resources)

Step 12: Share Resources: Ways to Donate

Zoomeet: Kamloops-Winnipeg. Conversation with Judy Williams

Zoomeet with a social worker, Judy Williams, from Winnipeg, Canada.

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPrTAPKsc0s

In conversation Judy mentions the book An Army of Problem Solvers that you can find online: http://www.armyofproblemsolvers.com/