Pride Month is a time to recognize, celebrate and reflect on the incredible diversity of the Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and additional sexual orientations and gender identities and communities on our campuses and beyond. When I think about Pride, I think about the 2SLGBTQIA+ students, faculty, staff, and alumni who make our institution what it is. All enrich our community and contribute to our diversity which makes us stronger.   

June is also National Indigenous History Month. The shared timing of Pride and National Indigenous History Month is a good reminder to acknowledge the many  intersectional identities in our community. It is important to distinctly recognize Two-Spirit and IndigiQueer individuals who may or may not identify with being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, yet who deserve acknowledgement and allyship as we celebrate sexual and gender diversity.  

This year, the University of Waterloo is proud to continue our tradition of raising the Intersex-Inclusive Progress flag, alongside the Two-Spirit Pride flag, the latter of which we raised for the first time on our campus last year. Both flags reflect the intersectional work being done across our institution to ensure that everyone at Waterloo feels a sense of belonging.    

This year, a shadow hangs over these celebrations as we acknowledge the anniversary of the hate-motivated attack at Hagey Hall that targeted gender expression and identity. Last year’s attack still weighs heavily on our community. It reminds us there is still much that needs to be done to ensure freedom of gender expression and identity while supporting those who experienced and experience trauma. It is also a reminder of the importance of standing in solidarity with our 2SLGBTQIA+ communities against hate.  

On behalf of the University, I want to acknowledge that some members of our community have expressed pain and frustration with the institution over the attack and how we responded to it—and with deep regret, we acknowledge that progress on some of our commitments has been slow.   

Today, we reiterate the University’s ongoing dedication to creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone feels seen, valued and respected. We continue to make progress in several areas

Our Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism (EDI-R) is helping navigate transformative cultural change to remove barriers and systems that are slowing our progress. We have been partnering with the organization Pride at Work in our efforts to hire and support individuals from the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. The Office of EDI-R has recently shared a new Gender and Sexual Equity Road Map to help guide individuals on their learning journey on the topic of gender and sexuality equity. Additionally, EDI-R will host a series of consultations with 2SLGBTQIA+ communities on campus in the coming weeks (register here).   

We also look forward to welcoming many scholars and students from around the world and our own community to the conference “From Targeting in Academia to Promoting Trust and Understanding” on June 27 and 28, which will facilitate important discussions about scholars who are threatened or targeted for their work, which too often includes those researching gender, sexuality and social justice. (You can read more details on these and other important initiatives on the Provost’s website.) 

A lot of important work has also been happening at the grassroots level through groups such as Glow Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the QueerTrans Alliance (QTA), EngiQueers, QTPOC KW, Waterloo Womxn + Nonbinary Wednesdays and community organizations like Spectrum in supporting our community. I would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who has contributed to advancing this important work. 

Ultimately, creating a truly supportive community requires all of us to play a part. I plan to take the time to reflect on what Pride Month means and participate in the celebrations and learning opportunities.  

Please visit our  Pride Month webpage which showcases Pride stories, initiatives, events and resources. Every member of our community matters, and we are pleased to showcase some of the work being done in 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. 

As we highlight in our Waterloo at 100 vision, as an institution, we have a responsibility to ensure everyone in our community thrives. We must be leaders in encouraging constructive dialogues to eliminate social injustices.  

Pride Month reminds us that this work continues, and our collective progress to date is something to celebrate. 

Wishing you a happy and safe Pride.