Dear University of Waterloo Community,
Many of us have watched the news over the past week of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the rise in protests across the world. I know some in our University community may have participated in protests to stand in solidarity against racism, violence and oppression.
I stand with you. I stand with your frustration. I stand with your anger. I stand with your sadness. And, I stand with your call for action.
Canada is a diverse country, but still racism, oppression and intolerance happen here, too often.
Despite progress that we have collectively made, Canada and the University of Waterloo are not immune from racism and the ills that stem from this toxic world view. I was saddened and shocked to hear that someone who once attended our University became part of the problem with a recent incident in New York City.
I said on April 2 – in the face of racist remarks made by individuals in our own community – that the University of Waterloo condemns racism in all its forms. We need to say this over and over again to show racists that we will not accept their hateful views. We need to show people who experience racism that we stand with them and will continue to do the hard work necessary to create positive change.
There is no room in our community for prejudice or hate of any kind. This is a University where we all belong.
We need to proactively find, prevent and remove barriers so everyone can achieve their full potential. We need to challenge privilege, decolonize and strive to create an equal, fair world for everyone.
As tensions continue to rise across North America, we must come together and show love and respect for one another. We need to reject hate and hostility. So, I encourage you to speak up, too.
Later this month we are hosting training sessions led by Kike Ojo-Thompson from the Kojo Institute, for leaders to reflect on our goals and commitments around anti-racism and equity. These training sessions will build capacity for our leaders to engage in necessary change around equity, anti-racism and anti-black racism. In fact, we are asking senior leaders to commit to specific goals around anti-racism which will be included in our institutional equity plan.
We are holding many more events throughout the month of June to promote equity and challenge oppression. We acknowledge that training is not enough but is necessary to build the foundation through which action can and must happen.
As ever, there is more we can and will do in the coming days, weeks and months to challenge racism and oppression in our society.
If you have experienced racism, hate or oppression in our community, there are people here at the University who can help. From the team in Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion to Campus Wellness and myself and my office. We are here for you.