Inclusion and belonging
CEE’s commitment to Indigenous relations (IR), equity, diversity and anti-racism (EDI-R)
In alignment with the University of Waterloo, Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) recognizes that diverse voices and perspectives enrich our unit and the experience of our students and employers. We commit to providing work-integrated learning (WIL) programs and career education with a human-centered approach to meet the needs of each student’s lived experiences. We aim to work towards equity in our systems to eliminate barriers and strive for a culture of belonging for every individual, even when it is complex and challenging.
To do this, we recognize that equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism (EDI-R) as well as Indigenous relations (IR) are integral to implementing CEE’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025. The following is a non-exhaustive list of related initiatives across CEE. We will continue to add initiatives to this list as we work to make EDI-R and IR a priority in every aspect of the work that we do.
Hiring dedicated resources
CEE has created two new portfolios focused on improving inclusivity and belonging.
- Colleen Philips-Davis, Associate Director, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism
- Bryanne Smart, Associate Director, Indigenous Relations
The objective of these roles is to strengthen the approach within CEE to lead the unit’s strategic direction in the critical areas of EDI-R and IR. We invite you to contact them to discuss any concerns in each area. They are here to listen and help.
Colleen Phillips-Davis (she/her)
Associate Director, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Anti-racism
Equity-driven working groups
Several equity-driven working groups are active across CEE units and each working group has associated initiatives.
CEE’s student equity advisory group
The CEE student equity advisory group (SEAG) plays an important role in shaping CEE services and supports for students. SEAG provides recommendations, advice and information related to the development and implementation of equity-driven processes and actions with the goal of eliminating systemic barriers within CEE experienced by students from racialized, marginalized, and excluded communities. This advisory group ensures that activities align with other institutional efforts to eliminate systemic barriers and has a specific lens to ensure that our work considers intersectionality. Intersectionality is an analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person’s identity combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege.
Digital content working group
In 2020-2021, a subgroup of a digital content working group hosted by the Centre for Career Action (CCA) created an internal universal design toolkit. Career advisors use this toolkit to integrate universal design principles into the delivery of workshops to meet the learning and engagement needs of all participants.
Centre for Career Action's equity resource group
In January 2022, Centre for Career Action (CCA) launched an equity resource group (ERG) comprised of staff members with a shared commitment toward integrating equity into CCA’s core practices, programs and resources. The ERG was first developed by CCA’s student equity team — a team of students engaged in extensive work assessing the unit’s equity needs. The student equity team created a Microsoft Teams channel with an equity toolbox and equity noticeboard to support staff in regularly engaging in equity work.
Workshop safety working group
CCA’s workshop safety work group engaged members of CCA’S ERG and kickstarted a Workshop Facilitation Guide. This staff resource will help team members prepare for workshops. The guide includes a reflection on privilege and access to power so that staff can create a safer space and call out harmful behaviour with the goal of helping to create safer spaces for all involved. Moving forward, CCA’s team will continue to host monthly drop-in sessions to discuss more equitable approaches to workshop facilitation.
Truth and reconciliation
How is the University of Waterloo responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) findings and calls to action? The objective of the Truth and Reconciliation Response Projects (TRRP) is to generate and share creative and research-based solutions to immediate societal challenges and to develop opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, artists and researchers across disciplines to meet and collaborate.
The TRRP will promote and implement Indigenous knowledges in meaningful, sustainable, and substantive ways and thus activate, in material practices, truth and reconciliation. As of 2020, the University's Office of Indigenous Relations leads the work and CEE is committed to following through on recommendations in this space, as well as to create our own strategies for truth and reconciliation.
CEE staff participate in on-going awareness training sessions provided by the University throughout the year. These sessions are available to better inform EDI-R and IR decision making in their respective areas. CEE staff also participate in training and professional development from external vendors and industry experts around EDI-R and IR.
Some CCA team members have participated in training about how to build trauma-informed approaches into service design and delivery toward better supporting all students. A growing body of literature demonstrates the value of building human services around trauma-informed evidence and toward enabling service providers to actively engage and support all clients, including those who identify as belonging to historically marginalized and excluded groups.
The CEE team is working to build awareness of Indigenous relations and EDI-R and IR topics internally and externally. The communications team in CEE Business Services is working to amplify and create content around cultural and religious dates of significance such as Black History Month, Asian Heritage Month, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, among others.
The CCA communications team has built a Black-owned business map for the Kitchener-Waterloo region to provide Black students with the opportunity to explore career options with employers they may identify with.
CCA is offering rotating workshops specifically targeted to students from racialized, marginalized and excluded communities. Examples include workshops designed to support students with disabilities in navigating employment challenges and for students experiencing challenges with their mental health.
Distinct from equity-oriented programming, there are also workshops about intercultural effectiveness. These workshops foster growing awareness of the cultural identities of self and others and heighten self-knowledge of one’s values, biases and beliefs. This programming helps learners develop the skills needed to navigate cultural differences in professional contexts.
Inclusive communications and events
The communications, engagement and digital experience team has created an inclusive communications and events guide and processes. The goal of the guide is to ensure the team considers EDI-R and Indigeneity in all content and projects. For example, ensuring the content is accessible and uses inclusive language such as inviting the use of gender pronouns of interviewees. The team is also reviewing content across CEE with the aim of ensuring it reflects an inclusive lens and utilizing the University’s Inclusive Communications Guide to drive best practices.
CEE is finding new ways to incorporate EDI-R and IR into all CEE events and has developed an inclusive statement to ensure CEE events are a safer space for all involved. In consultation with the University’s EDI-R office, CEE created a new category on EDI for the Employer Impact Awards. The new category is ‘Impact in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’ and focuses on celebrating equitable recruitment and selection practices in hiring processes.
CEE’s Centre for Career Action and AccessAbility Services (AAS), with funding through an Enabling Change grant from the Province of Ontario, have worked toward enhancing the accessibility of co-op recruitment processes and employment-related supports.
- Developed and piloted a co-op self-assessment screening tool for students called Ready for Co-op?
- Developed a guide to support efforts toward enhancing the accessibility of spaces, services and communications called Co-operative Education Self-Study Guide: Enhancing the Accessibility of your Co-operative Education program.
- Supported AAS in designing a customized accessibility plan and a new WIL Appointment type to support students who are embarking on WIL or Co-operative Education.
- Revised and updated materials and resources targeted at employers to promote a culture of inclusivity and accessibility.
Across the CCA portfolio, the team has worked toward increasing the relevance and value of our services, processes and programming to racialized, marginalized, and excluded students.
- Began a multi-year explorative journey to support international students through career services.
- Developed a Universal Design Toolkit to support the design and delivery of accessible, inclusive workshops, events and resources with the principles of universal design in mind.
The career leaders in CCA have embedded EDI-R and IR in their practices through monthly meetings on various related topics, while discussing initiatives to better promote these concepts within the career leader role. At these monthly meetings, career leaders have listened to guest speakers discuss building and enhancing EDI-R and IR competency and capacity, determining and eliminating institutional barriers, as well as the intersecting impact of mental health and wellbeing.
The career leaders are also working on a variety of actionable step projects where they collaborate in teams of three to six to advocate for multiple EDI-R and IR topics. This work is ongoing throughout each term. Initiatives currently in progress include:
|First Nations Métis and Inuit rights and learnings:||Outreach projects:||Mental wellness and inclusion:|
Equitable hiring practices
Over the past year and a half, CCA has been working towards overhauling its hiring practices to ensure there are more individuals who reflect and represent the student body within the department. This process has involved staff across CCA and is an ongoing process. To date, initiatives include:
- Redesigning job descriptions to better capture core skills and knowledge required, instead of leaning on credentials as screening mechanisms that may exclude members of racialized, marginalized, and excluded communities.
- Posting jobs on more platforms, with the aim of expanding their reach.
- Diversifying interview panels.
- Identifying EDI-R and IR training that can support interview panel members in identifying and combatting implicit bias.
- Revamping the interview process to enable candidates to demonstrate their skills.