ADVISORY: All of Halifax Peninsula, including NSCAD’s three campuses, are currently under a boil water advisory until further notice. All water must be boiled for at least one minute if it will be used for drinking or any other activity requiring human consumption.

2021 Census Summary Report

NSCAD is in Mi’kma’ki, on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq Nation.

This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1725.

The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.


In NSCAD’s EDI Targeted Action Plan (EDI TAP), we highlight the importance of intentional actions to support equity, diversity and inclusion and to ensure that NSCAD is a space of welcome and belonging for all its members.

In support of the EDI TAP goals, NSCAD conducted its first equity census from October 12 – 22, 2021. The purpose of the census was to capture a snapshot of the demographic composition of the university community, with the commitment to perform the census annually in order to measure the effectiveness of the EDI TAP.

The EDI Working Group is pleased to provide early census findings. We thank those who participated in the census and encourage everyone to participate next year. Your voice matters as we strive to meet the needs of community.


NSCAD set a goal for participation in the first equity census of at least 40% (EDI TAP 33). We appreciate that some members of the community want to see how the census data will be used before they commit to sharing personal demographic details and trust that the information will be used respectfully. The blended rate of participation (all groups together) is 39.5%.

56 faculty and 62 staff members responded to the first equity survey, for a total of 118 faculty and staff. This represents a participation rate of approximately 25%.

392 students responded. This represents a participation rate of 48%.


The term “visible minority” is used in statistics to designate racialized (nonwhite) and non-Indigenous people, as defined by Canadian law. This term includes a number of sub-categories based on ethnicity, race or country of origin. We recognize that this term is an artefact of language used in employment equity legislation. We are seeking disclosure about how individuals self-identify in order to
address systemic racism and barriers to full participation.


The mode for faculty and staff is age 50-59, though the distribution is almost bimodal with the next highest frequency in the age band 30-39.

The mode for students is age 20-29.

Note: Mode implies the value that appears most often in a set of data values.


Census data on race and ethnicity are invaluable for understanding who we are, who is missing, and how we are changing over time. It is, however, only a snapshot and it’s one of the many factors we will use to inform decision-making. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, 4.9% of the Canadian population identifies as Indigenous and 22% identifies as a racialized minority.


According to the 2016 Canadian Census, 14% of the population identifies as living with a disability. In response to Canadian census data, in its 2029 Equity Targets, the Canada Research Chair Secretariat has set 7.5% as the target for chairholders living with disabilities. For purposes of developing NSCAD’s employment equity targets, we are looking to the CRC Secretariat equity targets as a guideline for setting our own employments.

The 2021 NSCAD Census data suggests that faculty and staff experience disability at the same rate as the general population. It is noteworthy that disability is nearly three times more prevalent in the student body.


Among those respondents who self-identify as living with disability, mental health is the primary disability. For faculty and staff, mental health and pain are the primary and secondary challenges. For students, mental health and learning challenges appear to pose compounding realities.


In June 2017, Parliament adopted legislation to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

This census question will be redrafted in the next census to better reflect the lived experience of community members. For instance, we will offer “transgender” as an option (not transgender woman; transgender man).


According to Statistics Canada, Canada is home to approximately one million people who are LGBTQ2+, accounting for 4% of the total population aged 15 and older in 2018. Perhaps the most significant difference between faculty and staff and students is reflected in responses to this question. Specifically, 70% of faculty and staff self-identify as heterosexual, whereas only 23% of students self-identify as heterosexual. In many ways, this reflects the changing morés in Canadian society which enables individuals to safely explore and express their sexual orientations.


  • Second census report on remaining data.
  • NSCAD has dedicated its professional development (in-service days) to providing anti-racist and accessibility training workshops to staff and faculty. Following up from the full-day workshops, the Director of Opportunity and Belonging has organized a series of practical workshops and strategies on inclusive leadership, allyship, difficult conversations. Building upon the foundations of the full day EDI workshop, the following sessions are designed to deepen knowledge and understanding of the topics as well as to provide practical tips and steps towards creating a diverse and inclusive workplace and classroom environment.

    Inclusive leadership

    This session discusses traits of an inclusive leader as well as steps towards building a diverse and inclusive workplace driven by leadership in the organization. The ession also details practical steps for leaders looking to become more inclusive in their leadership style.

    Unconscious bias in the workplace
    This session will explore the process by which implicit attitudes and stereotypes result in subtle forms of prejudice and undermine diversity, equity, and inclusion in our society. Additionally, this session will explain how biases are formed in our unconscious and how they affect perceptions and interactions.

    The Concept of racism
    This session will explore the concept of race as a social construct and the impact of race categorization on racialized people include antisemitism as well as other races.

    Allyship in action
    This session aims to highlight how employees can recognize their privilege and power to create change and introduces them to steps they can take to show up as allies.

    Difficult conversations in the workplace
    This session aims to provide concrete steps on how to engage in difficult conversation in the classroom and workplace with peers and students while ensure this is done in an inclusive and respectful manner.
  • As part of the budget process, the President’s Budget Advisory Committee has been asked to prioritize EDI initiatives. Having restructured the Office of Student Services, we are reviewing mental health support, accessibility and accommodations protocols and policies, and trying to produce a cultural change to ensure that our service philosophy is student centred.
  • We intend to hire an elder and student advisor from the Indigenous and African Nova Scotian communities in 2022-23.
  • We are working to appoint a Director of Teaching and Learning with the expertise necessary to support the new faculty cohort and the dynamic curriculum reform that is developing as part of decolonization.
  • We have developed a retention and persistence plan that foregrounds support to students on their learning journey. The redesign of the academic advisor position is meant to facilitate the changing processes required.
  • Learning outcomes are best practice, and benefit students with learning challenges.

Feedback Form

We welcome your feedback on the 2021 Equity Census, or on any of NSCAD’s EDI initiatives.