Anti-Oppression Knowledge Integrators (AOK) working group

Mission statement

The Anti-Oppression Knowledge Integrators (AOK) working group was established by the Department of Knowledge Integration to identify opportunities to advance anti-oppression in our curriculum and activities, and to contribute to the broader anti-oppression cause. This work includes but is not limited to dismantling racism, sexism, ableism, classism, ageism, and religious persecution, among other forms of oppression.

The working group will be charged with examining issues such as:

  • To what extent and how our curriculum supports anti-oppression as an educational objective;
  • To what extent and how our departmental activities and program offerings make the necessary space for members of the KI Community to develop their intersectional and especially racial identities and to understand their relationships to white supremacy and settler colonialism;
  • How to increase diversity in the applicant pool and examine processes that might perpetuate systemic oppression.

AOK consists of representatives from across the KI community: students, faculty, staff, alumni. They will identify opportunities to advance anti-racism and anti-oppression through KI’s curricular and extracurricular activities, and they will contribute to broader consultative processes within the University of Waterloo and extended community.



We aim to make our work visible from start to finish and welcome feedback. We recognize that we are only a small fraction of the KI community and only have a limited set of experiences and knowledge to draw from.


We strive to promote the recognition and inclusion of all individuals and their intersecting identities.


We recognize that it is not the responsibility of the people who have been victims of oppression to educate their oppressors, and that doing so puts further burden on these communities. We are committed to taking it upon ourselves to seek out the resources required to have holistic, nuanced perspectives on all manner of issues related to oppression.

Accountability and Action

We are committed to going beyond conversations. We will review existing structures and put forth actionable policy recommendations to enact real change.


Anti-oppression resources

Community Resources

Educational Resources

Quick start: anti-oppression basics and bite-sized information

Anti-Racism Daily: a free daily email newsletter that promotes anti-racism resources, action items, and background information on the issues at hand.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack: essay excerpt on understanding white privilege.

Anti-Oppression Network – What is Anti-Oppression?: article on the basic principles and background of anti-oppression, with a focus on the Canadian Indigenous context.

Resist Racism – Racism 101: list of anti-racist understandings and the debunking of common fallacies.

Qualities of a White Anti-Racist Ally: list of effective qualities of a white anti-racist ally

Deep dive: longer reads and more complex ideas

500 Years of Indigenous Resistance: article on the history of the colonization of North America from 1492 to 1992.

Lekwungen territories – Traditional Territories of the Lekwungen: information on the Traditional Territories of the Lekwungen People.

Decolonizing Together: moving beyond a politics of solidarity towards practices of decolonization – article on decolonization in Canada

The Immediate need for Emotional Justice: Article on the emotional work in activism, how that work is distributed, and the need for redistributing that emotional load.

The Ways of Knowing Guide: guidebook and collection of stories on Indigenous ways of knowing and the conservation of species on Turtle Island.

Resource Compilations

UWaterloo Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion: works “to bring members of our campus community together to facilitate understanding and address systemic barriers to equity, inclusion, and decolonization” in five intersecting areas: Indigenous initiatives, equity office, sexual violence prevention & response office, and conflict management & human rights office.

UoGuelph Anti-Racism and & Anti-Oppression resources: compilation of anti-racism and anti-oppression resources organized by goal.

Organizing for Power, Organizing for Change resources and exercise: compilation of anti-oppression resources and activities.

Challenging White Supremacy – Creating an Anti-Racist Agenda: a compilation of resources for creating an anti-racism workshop, or for individual browsing.

Colours of Resistance – Archives: a compilation of anti-oppression resources organized by topic. Example topics include anti-racist organizing, challenging gender, Black liberation, and resisting globalization.

How to do better with Gender on Surveys: A Guide for HCI Researchers - a guide on gender inclusivity in human-computer interaction survey research. Principles widely applicable.

Contact Form (Feedback/Report an incident)

We want to hear from you if you would like to share any questions, comments, concerns, experiences or suggestions. We are committed to listening, responding, and acting in a way to advance equity for all people, especially historically stigmatized and marginalized groups.

AOK Members

  • Rachel Deshpande – Undergraduate Student
  • Mathieu Feagan – Assistant Professor, Department of Knowledge Integration
  • Megan Flus – Alumni Representative (BKI ‘19)
  • Jordan Kalist – Undergraduate Student

FAQ about AOK

Why is an anti-oppression working group only being established now?

The Knowledge Integration program has grown considerably since its founding in 2008. As the years have gone by, it has been increasing apparent that the best ways to ensure that the program systematically furthers anti-oppression causes is not to rely on the organic efforts of individuals, but to create and support a working group with an anti-oppression mandate.

On June 9, 2020, the Department of Knowledge Integration issued an open letter on our individual and collective responsibilities to work together continuously to educate ourselves about and work against institutional racism, anti-Black racism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and oppression of all forms. In particular, we acknowledge that deep, systemic societal factors impact the racial and epistemic diversity in our own immediate community. As a response, AOK was formed to identify opportunities to advance anti-racism and anti-oppression in our curriculum and extra-curricular activities, and to contribute to the broader anti-oppression cause.

How can we ensure that the current momentum is not diminished in the forthcoming years?

The Knowledge Integration community will no longer tolerate racism and other forms of oppression and is dedicated to changing oppressive systems and policies. As interdisciplinary collaborators, we recognize that it is essential to embrace diversity and promote radical inclusion, because no one of us can reach their full potential if others in the community aren’t able to safely and confidently be their full selves. Inclusion and interdisciplinarity both rely on embracing issues of lived experiences. This has always been a part of the curriculum, emphasized most in INTEG 221, The Social Nature of Knowledge, but we realize we can always do more. Moving forward, we are changing the culture of Knowledge Integration to emphasize that being a KI student means being actively anti-oppressive.

How are the Anti-oppression Knowledge Integrators (AOK) different from the President’s Anti-racism Taskforce, and how are they connected?

AOK and the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce have similar goals; however, AOK’s goals address anti-oppression more broadly, which includes anti-racism efforts. AOK will focus on issues specific to the KI community. The faculty member of AOK provides regular updates to the KI department chair, who is a direct conduit to Faculty-level anti-racism efforts.

Will AOK student members be compensated?

Yes. Although the details are still being ironed out at the institutional level, AOK has committed to compensating the student members of AOK for their service. Faculty members will receive service credit.

Given that the KI faculty and leadership are not visible minorities, how is the KI department actively seeking out representation and inclusion in their policies and actions?

We acknowledge that there is a lack of racial diversity among the current leadership in the Department of Knowledge Integration. We also acknowledge that not all forms of oppression are based on visible forms of identity. In the creation of AOK, the department prioritized BIPOC representation based on optional self-identification in the application process. Moving forward, AOK and the department will actively seek out underrepresented voices from within the community and give them opportunities to speak to their perspectives and promote increased inclusion. In the cases where these voices are not present within our community or able to participate, we will consult on-campus groups and services such as the Office of Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion (HREI) and the student-based service, Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE).

What forms of anti-oppression training do professors receive before starting at Waterloo?

While faculty and staff receive training on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity (EDI) as part of onboarding, this does not equate to training on anti-oppression. One of the action items of the AOK working group is to define anti-oppression training objectives, review the current training provided to faculty and staff, identify where the current training falls short, and make recommendations for improvements.

Will recommendations from AOK be made public before they are acted on?

Yes, all recommendations made by AOK will be public. Transparency is one of the key values of AOK and is necessary to ensure accountability from the KI community. Meeting agendas and notes will be accessible from the AOK webpage. Regular updates will be provided each academic term. We encourage and embrace all feedback on our recommendations from the KI community and will try our utmost to incorporate feedback into the recommendations where possible.

How can recommendations be made to AOK?

Recommendations can be made to AOK through the AOK Contact Form. When filling out this form, you may choose to remain anonymous or to provide your contact information if you would like us to follow up about your recommendations or feedback.

How do we ensure that recommendations made by AOK are heard by the university and that we see results?

Yes, all recommendations made by AOK will be public. Transparency is one of the key values of AOK and is necessary to ensure accountability from the KI community. Meeting agendas and notes are available upon request. Regular updates will be provided at a minimum annually and preferably biannually. We encourage and embrace all feedback on our recommendations from the KI community and will try our utmost to incorporate feedback into the recommendations where possible.

If I feel I am being discriminated against, who do I report to? Also, how do I know that reporting this incident will not put my academic career in jeopardy?

You should feel safe in reporting instances of discrimination knowing that you will be protected and your report will not negatively impact or jeopardize your academic career.

To report an incident of discrimination:

  • AOK contact form
  • You can also report to the Faculty of Environment, Undergraduate Office, or the Faculty Associate Graduate Studies
  • If you’re a student, faculty or staff member and you’ve experienced racism and need a space for support, understanding your resources, potential next steps and/or advocacy: connect with the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Anti-racism
  • If you’re a student, faculty or staff member and you’ve experienced racism and would like to explore informal mediation, understand your rights, or file a grievance under a Policy 33: connect with Matt Erickson at

Discriminatory behaviour amongst our students and faculty will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form. Students will be fully supported if they experience instances of discrimination. We will do all we can to ensure that issues are resolved in a way that will not compromise or jeopardize a student’s academic career.