Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity to recognize the many accomplishments and contributions that Canadians of Asian heritage, including our colleagues and students here at the University, continue to make in our country and communities.

The continent of Asia encompasses more than 60 per cent of the world’s population, and represents many languages, ethnicities and religious traditions. It is important to recognize that Asian culture is not one monolith, but a mosaic of cultures and traditions—all of which add rich diversity to our communities. 

Amidst the celebration of our vibrant communities, we need to recognize Canada’s complicated history of anti-Asian racism and that discrimination against people of Asian heritage still exists in our society today. Fight COVID Racism has tracked a 47 per cent increase in reports of anti-Asian racist incidents received by its online platforms in 2021 compared to 2020. 

In the recently released President’s Anti-racism Taskforce (PART) report, recommendations include educating the university at large about cultural identity and perceptions while developing a greater sense of belonging for all members of our community.  

Preliminary results of the 2021 University of Waterloo Equity Survey tell us that over 50 per cent of our student population has Asian heritage. To meet our commitment of creating an institution where everyone belongs, it is vital that we commit to deeper learning about Asian experience and identity and continue to work to dismantle racism at our institution.  

This month, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the contributions of our Asian community at the University, and to learning more about Asian heritage in Canada.