Every May, we celebrate Asian Heritage Month. Over the past two centuries, Asian communities in Canada have overcome challenges and thrived. This history is full of many barriers, but also countless stories of resiliency and success.

According to the Canada’s 2021 Census of Population, nearly 20 per cent of Canada’s population is of Asian heritage. The top four most reported mother tongues after English and French are Punjabi, Mandarin, Arabic and Cantonese. It is troubling to see that recent surveys also highlight that many in this population have experienced discrimination in public spaces, in the workplace and even in the classroom. At the University of Waterloo, we are proud of the diversity and inclusiveness of our campuses. Our equity survey notes that close to 50 per cent of our student population has Asian heritage, and we also have a large Asian community represented within our staff and faculty. Community members from a wide variety of Asian cultures and backgrounds contribute to our University community in so many ways.

Asian heritage encompasses many diverse and unique cultures that have their own languages, customs and beliefs. When we celebrate Asian Heritage Month, we celebrate the diversity of these cultures. We can be proud that our institution provides spaces and opportunities to share these cultures and customs.

Diverse voices and perspectives enrich our teaching, learning, research and service. In our Waterloo at 100 strategic vision, we see ourselves as a community of curious, collaborative, innovative and entrepreneurial problem-solvers and leaders who seek to understand and identify equitable and sustainable solutions for the future of humanity and our planet. For this vision to be successful, we strive to ensure every member of our community feels a sense of belonging. Belonging should include feeling part of something special here at Waterloo, while also feeling empowered to celebrate your identity.

I encourage you to visit Waterloo’s Asian Heritage Month webpage to learn about some inspiring members of our community with Asian heritage who are making exceptional contributions to our campus and beyond. Individuals like Biomedical Engineering fourth-year student, Christy Lee, who developed an app (PatientCompanion) to improve patent experience and reduce stress for nurses and Edith Law, a professor at the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, whose research delves into social computing technology, machine intelligence interactions and the design and user experience of technology that upholds important human values.

We are thankful to all members of our community with Asian heritage, who enrich our University and contribute to our institution’s success.