Black History Month is a time for reflection and celebration. It is also a time to learn, collaborate and act for needed systemic changes inside and outside of our community.
Highlighting our Black community and areas for positive change
There is greatness in our diversity. We welcome exceptional people from around the world to our campus and into our community on the merit of their ideas, determination and perseverance. Waterloo’s Black students, faculty, staff and alumni – some coming to our institution from outside Canada, and others whose roots go back to the very beginnings of this country – continue to be an integral part of our strength as an institution and as a community. We have been highlighting some of their accomplishments and contributions throughout this month.
It’s clear from my conversations with Black members of our community that the protests and calls for action of 2020 did not come out of nowhere. The emotion, the anger and the frustration that we have seen since the horrendous killing of George Floyd has been simmering for centuries. Now is the time for change and so many in our community have stepped up to help create that change through the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART), and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Progress should not take generations to manifest
I am excited by the progress we have made already through the dedicated actions of PART. The Community Collaborative driving PART forward has advanced discussions of a new Black Studies program and discussions regarding a dedicated cultural centre focused on education, teaching and inclusion within our community. There is much more to come from this powerful and talented group.
It is wonderful to see our Faculties and other departments on campus also advancing anti-racism, equity and inclusion in our community through discussions, actions and the needed investment in staff and support. It is the right thing to do and benefits everyone in our community.
In the spirit of collaboration, learning and open dialogue, I look forward to the Rooted in History: A Celebration of Black History as Canadian History event on February 26. You can register for the event now.
This event is an excellent opportunity for our community to come together in celebration, to be inspired, be educated and be introspective as we consider our own role in creating a more inclusive and empowering community at Waterloo. I encourage our entire University to join us as we take in performance, a keynote address and a panel of some of our most formidable thinkers in celebration of Black History in Canada and those trailblazers making history at Waterloo right now.
We’ve seen in the past that you cannot simply will racism away through nice words. Highlighting Black History Month and the contributions of our Black community members is a wonderful place to start, but it is important to integrate everything great and progressive about this month into our everyday actions.
Please join me in taking the celebrations and reflections of this important month forward to strengthen Waterloo and all of its community members.