Aaron Ekman has been removed from his position at chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s board of governors.
“We have high standards for public appointees and racist and discriminatory comments from public appointments to post-secondary institutions will not be tolerated,” said Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Anne Kang in a Tweet. “I am removing Aaron Ekman from his position.
“Our government and the University of Northern British Columbia are deeply committed to tackling racism and hate in all its forms,” she added.
Kang did not say what Ekman may have said that was racist or hateful. However, Ekman raised the ire of some online earlier today when he called out two MLAs for saying there has been an increase of anti-Semitism and bigotry in B.C.:
“…there has been an increase in antisemitism and bigotry in B.C.” say two BCNDP ministers.— Aaron James Ekman ☭ (@aaronekman) May 28, 2021
Has there? Does the BC government have evidence of this? Honest question. @selinarobinson @RachnaSinghNDP https://t.co/6iu7QdCLUI#bcpoli
That resulted in several Twitter exchanges between Ekman and others online saying he should apologize. He asked what for:
We should question the validity of all such assertions.— Aaron James Ekman ☭ (@aaronekman) May 28, 2021
Why wouldn’t you see the question as an opportunity to establish the assertion, rather than respond w. allegations of antisemitism?
Ekman tweeted that he had informed the province three months ago of his intent to resign, “but facts and details are low on the priority list for the @bcndp these days.”
And he is unrepentant:
I’ve been fired more times than anyone I know, but this is the first time being fired on Twitter.— Aaron James Ekman ☭ (@aaronekman) May 29, 2021
No one’s told me yet whether it’s because I’m a Zionist, an antisemite, or a transphobe.
Lemme know if you hear anything. #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/kZyzPwDlWa
The province appointed Ekman to the the board in May, 2018 and he was re-appointed in July of 2019 for a two-year term. Ekman was president of the Prince George and District Labour Council in 2009, and in 2011, was the founding president of the North Central Labour Council.
He was elected secretary-treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour in 2014 and served two terms.
UNBC Board Vice-Chair, Andrew Robinson, will take on the role of interim chair, effective immediately and until the board convenes to elect a new chair.
“UNBC is firmly committed to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion,” according to a post on its website. “The university community has come together frequently over the past year to confront and discuss issues of race, discrimination and systemic inequalities; comments that hinder those important conversations are contrary to the university’s values.”
The university will not comment further on the matter.