An Ontario rights and freedoms association has thrown its support behind a Dalhousie student who is facing disciplinary action from the school about posts she made online regarding Canada 150 celebrations.
Fourth-year student Masuma Khan called the celebrations an ongoing act of colonialism and included a hashtag referring to white fragility.
Joseph Hickey with the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, which advocates for strong freedom of expression for individuals in Canada, says the group sent a letter to the president of the university early Monday.
He says the university's disciplinary action is inconsistent with the core values of freedom of thought and expression as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Hickey says any institution that limits the freedom of individuals is a threat to Canada.
"Our society needs to allow the freedom to express all kinds of views, including extreme views like the expression of racism and bigotry," he says.
Hickey says the OCLA is asking Dalhousie to drop its disciplinary proceedings against Khan and to issue an apology immediately.
"There was nothing wrong with the posts," he says. "They are the authentic expression of an individual, and the individual of course has to be free to express whatever they want to express in whatever form they chose to express it."
Khan says the intention of her post was to show her support for Indigenous communities.
"Being a person who is a settler to this land, it is my duty to do so and I believe it is all settlers duty to stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people of this land," she says.
Khan says she doesn't believe she should punished for talking about racism.
"I'm being policed on my tone and speech because I am talking about racism," she says. "I understand a lot of people might not understand where I am coming from, but if we are going to say folks have the ability to free speech, why does it only work for people who don't look like me?"
Hickey says going forward, Dalhousie needs to do some deep thinking about if its policies obstruct how its students are able to express themselves.