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I am honoured to have become President of the Academy of Arts and Humanities at the end of the COEE meeting in Calgary, November 2022. I am Distinguished Research Professor of Linguistics at York University and have just completed my term seconded as Interim President of Laurentian University in Sudbury. I am still writing to you from the traditional lands of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, and the city of Greater Sudbury includes the traditional lands of the Wahnapitae First Nation. 

Under the leadership of President Alain-G Gagnon, the RSC continues to advance on its strategic plan, Next Steps, Together, until 2025, which I encourage you to read if you have not done so yet. There are three priorities to guide us: Inclusive Excellence, Independent Expertise, and International Engagement, all of which relate to multiple different ways of breaking barriers – all types of barriers wherever they may exist as an impediment to the advancement of the human condition globally. 

RSC-wide initiatives in Inclusive Excellence include implementation of the recommendations of the Committee on Membership concerning Decolonization, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, particularly those around Knowledge Systems, as well as furthering the At-Risk and Displaced Academics and Artists program. As part of Inclusive Excellence, we also specifically aim to foster more involvement from francophone scholars, from smaller and more regional universities (something I have just had firsthand experience with), from the newer and emerging disciplines within the humanities, from those primarily engaged in community-based scholarship and from a broader and larger spectrum of those involved in the arts. With reference to the arts specifically, the RSC is partway through a three-year pilot project of financial support for unaffiliated artists to attend their induction ceremony and to waive their membership fees, in the hope of stimulating more nominations from this group, under-represented within the RSC. 

Independent Expertise builds on the huge success of the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 and its partnerships with the Globe and Mail, Canadian Science Publishing, Acfas, and others, to focus on urgent themes, specifically including the RSC Task Force on One Health. In all these truly interdisciplinary initiatives, the Humanities and the Arts have been very visible, and must continue to be so, as a concrete demonstration of how integral the Humanities and the Arts are to all contemporary issues. 

International Engagement continues the RSC’s focus on collaboration and knowledge-sharing with our sibling academies around the world, including the “young” academies, crossing disciplines, generations, and national boundaries. In 2025, Canada will be President of the G7 and therefore host the G7 meetings, and as the national academy of the host, the RSC will draft the associated S7 statements, then work with the other national academies to have them endorsed. Dr. Paul Young, the RSC’s International Secretary is leading these activities. 

As Academy President, I serve on the RSC Board and Council. I also chair the Governance and Ethics Committee and serve as the RSC’s Vice-President designate. I also work with all the other members of the Board, Council, Committees and Task Forces, all under the leadership of the RSC President, Alain-G Gagnon. Within our Academy, I oversee the selection process for the next cohort of new Fellows and for the medals and awards for our Academy. In everything we do, our Academy receives exceptional support from the dedicated staff at Walter House in Ottawa. 

I welcome your views and comments, encouraging you to write to me at I also hope to meet as many of you as possible at this year’s COEE, in Vancouver, November 7-9, 2024, hosted by Simon Fraser University. The COEE is always a wonderful celebration and unparalleled opportunity to meet colleagues old and new, formally and informally, and to engage in interdisciplinary discussions relevant to the many issues and challenges of the day. 

With best wishes, 

Dr. Sheila Embleton, FRSC 
President, Academy of the Arts and Humanities