Immediate change and ongoing action
Early engagements with BIPOC staff, students and faculty uncovered immediate and swift steps towards ending racism in all areas at the University of Waterloo. Ongoing collaboration, conversation with, and leadership from BIPOC community members are driving additional actions, and long lasting and meaningful change.
Updates on action to date
Recruitment and hiring
Among many other actions, efforts led by staff, faculty and students have begun, including work related to the hiring of Black and Indigenous faculty for the upcoming academic year, as we work toward building a faculty complement that represents the communities we serve.
Work has also begun to implement a system that diversifies applicant pools for employees and addresses barriers in recruitment and hiring for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals. In addition, a plan for the safe collection and use of race-based data has been set in motion to help us better understand the Waterloo community and reflect on next steps to improve representation.
Membership in the National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity
Waterloo has joined more than 230 other institutions as a member of the National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity, an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community for faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students.
New curriculum and educational content
Progress has been made in developing new curriculum and educational content. For example, work has begun to develop and launch a Black Studies Program with the first curricular offerings in September 2022. The AVP, Academic and the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Office is developing a non-credit anti-racism module.
Cultural events and spaces
To better reflect and celebrate the diversity on our campuses, a proposal for Indigenous spaces has been developed to serve cultural, social, and scholarly needs of our Indigenous colleagues and students.
In February we held our first successful PART event celebrating Black History Month, which included a panel discussion, music by a local artist, and a keynote presentation by Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo.
Supporting BIPOC students
To better meet the needs of our student community, a full-time Counsellor, dedicated to the needs of Black students has been hired.
The hiring process for a Senior Manager, Anti-Racism Response is currently underway, focusing on supporting individuals who may have experienced racism and developing a university-wide process for reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints.
Anti-racism efforts are also underway within our faculties.
Faculty of Arts
Several anti-racism initiatives are being implemented across departments in the Faculty of Arts. For example, the English Language and Literature department created an Anti-Black Racism Action Plan Working Group, which is engaging in activities that review pedagogy through an anti-racism lens. In addition, Renison University College formed an anti-racism committee last year, led by Kathy Hogarth. Its Social Development Studies department is also developing strategies to recruit more students from equity-deserving groups. Finally, the Philosophy department conducted a review of its speakers for colloquia and events, with the intention of examining the diversity and representation of these speakers, and making improvements to these line-ups.
Faculty of Health
The School of Public Health and Health Systems created an Advisory Group, made up primarily of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni, to generate recommendations that address oppression and strengthen efforts towards equity, diversity, and inclusion. A report of recommendations that placed emphasis on barriers faced by BIPOC individuals and individuals with disabilities has been developed.
Faculty of Engineering
The Faculty of Engineering has announced an Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology Momentum Fellowship. “This prestigious Fellowship will provide financial support of $30,000 per year for 4 years for University of Waterloo recipients. This funding support ($25,000 from faculty and $5,000 from faculty supervisor) will allow the recipient(s) to pursue advanced degrees and undertake both traditional and/or non-traditional areas of research without incurring financial hardship.
IBET Momentum Fellowship is intended to support Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) and Black researchers in achieving their rightful place and respected inclusion in academia at the University of Waterloo.
The School of Architecture established a Racial Equity and Environmental Justice Task Force to identify areas of concerns around equity and environmental justiceand to determine how best to offer specific supports for marginalized students, staff and faculty.
Faculty of Environment
The Faculty of Environment is conducting unit-level and program-level curriculum reviews to include decolonization, Indigeneity and inclusivity. Additionally, all advertisements for faculty appointments incorporate new language on equity, diversity and inclusion, and equity training is now mandatory for all members of departmental advisory committees on appointments for faculty members.
The Faculty of Environment, its Departments/Schools, and its members, have organized a number of events during the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., the From Environmental Racism to Environmental Justice event) to raise awareness of and engage our community in discussions of BIPOC and social justice issues.
Faculty of Math
The Faculty of Math formed a Math Racial Equity Committee (MREC), consisting of faculty, staff and students who spearhead and coordinate racial equality work across the Faculty. EDI guidelines were also developed for faculty hiring, and an EDI advocate was added to each Strategic Plan implementation group to ensure racial equity is considered in the faculty’s strategic planning.
Faculty members have also partnered with the Faculty of Engineering and initiated the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowship, mentioned above.
Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science held a virtual Anti-Racism Town Hall to listen to the Waterloo Science community share their experiences, ideas and suggestions for future change. This led to the formation of a Science Anti-Racism Taskforce (SART). Being grounded in the experiences of BIPOC in the Faculty of Science, the SART focuses on issues and problems related to racism, and will make recommendations aimed at creating policies and procedures to eliminate racism in all its forms, and foster a culture of equity in the Faculty of Science.
The Water Institute
The Water Institute (which is aligned with the Faculty of Environment) established an Anti-Racism Taskforce and presented a number of recommendations to address racism and its connections to water. As part of this work, the Institute supports an interdisciplinary Collaborative Water Program where students are introduced to Indigenous traditions. This program has led to projects like the Grand Expressions exhibit that captures the perspectives of Indigenous youth in a culturally appropriate and relevant way.
Timeline of action
As our work and engagement continues to evolve, many of the approaches reflected below are in progress, are being considered and are being validated through the efforts of the PART working groups.
- June 15: Taskforce
- Made a commitment to establish a taskforce that tackles systemic racism, anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism on campus.
- August 19: Executive Designate, Charmaine Dean
- Appointed an executive designate, Charmaine Dean, to steward the ongoing process, the formation and the work of the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce. Dr. Dean will ensure engagement, planning and action is representative of the diverse voices and lived experiences of Waterloo’s BIPOC communities.
- August 19: Pedagogy & Learning
- Committed to creating a Black cultural centre on campus.
- August 19: Support Funnel for BIPOC High Secondary Students
- Committed funds to explore a Transitional Year Program for BIPOC high school students.
- Committed to establishing Black Studies and Indigenous Studies programs.
- Committed to developing a non-credit anti-racism module and make it available to all students.
- August 19: Ethical conduct
- Committed to directing students to the University’s policy on ethical behaviour and equity in the boilerplate of every syllabus. This will define acceptable behaviour and consequences if the policy is violated.
- August 19: Human resources and faculty
- Committed to beginning a new system to diversify applicant pools for staff positions and to address barriers in the recruitment and hiring processes for members of BIPOC Communities.
- August 19: Black & Indigenous faculty
- Committed to increasing Black and Indigenous faculty representation and dedicated funding for those positions.
- August 19: Faculty Development & Diversity
- Became a member of the National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity, an independent centre providing tools, mentoring and support for faculty members, postdocs and graduate students.
- August 26: Training for leaders
- Provided initial training to university leadership on unconscious bias and systemic racism.
- August to September: Community support and engagement
- Held over 100 discussions with BIPOC faculty, students, staff, administrative leaders from Canada and representatives from campus associations about their lived experience and approaches towards campus equity.
- Facilitated the formation of PART’s Community Collaborative, a forum of over 40 BIPOC volunteers brought together for broad consultation on the initiation and development of PART.
- September 29: Community Collaborative
- Hosted the first official meeting of PART’s Community Collaborative.
- October: Thematic areas for action on anti-racism:
- Developed, sought widespread community feedback, and finalized six thematic areas that would structure the work of PART.
- October to November: Key responsibilities:
- In consultation with the Community Collaborative, developed key responsibilities of the PART working groups and implementation teams.
- November: Working groups
- Organized five working groups, with representation from students, staff, faculty and other administrators based on their areas of expertise, to generate recommendations for the university’s consideration in each thematic area.
- November: Implementation teams
- Established four teams to begin work immediately on campus in the areas of Campus Representation; BIPOC Related Programming; Race, Culture & Ethnicity Awareness; and Race-Based Data Strategies.
- December: Taskforce
- Initiated working groups and implementation teams and the taskforce.
- January: Waterloo announces membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity
- February 26, 2021: Held a community-wide Black History Month Celebration
Rooted in History: A Celebration of Black History as Canadian History.” The event featured a panel around Blackness, performances from a local KW Black artist, and a keynote from MPP Laura Mae Lindo.
Last Updated: March 19, 2021