Waterloo is striving to be a community open and for everyone. Strengthening diverse communities is the only way we can grow as an institution and this is at the heart of Waterloo’s strategic vision for the future. This can only be achieved when every member of the University feels safe, welcome and provided equal opportunity to flourish.
The University of Waterloo recognizes that as an institution we must address systemic racism and inequities found within our institution. We are dedicated to working directly with our students, faculty, staff and alumni to listen, learn and act on these challenges. This is why the President’s Anti-racism Taskforce was created. This community-driven group is dedicated to amplifying BIPOC voices and learning from their insight and experience to inform the actions needed to ensure systemic racism has no place at Waterloo.
The Calls to Action developed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 were not only a call for change and action for our federal government but for all of Canada. Indigenous Initiatives is a central hub for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis researchers, faculty and staff, along with allies within the Waterloo campus community to inform and create positive change at Waterloo.
Led by Senior Director, Jean Becker, Indigenous Initiatives is a very valuable part of Waterloo that focuses on developing a range of community engagement and policy-driven outreach programs to bring more understanding and connectedness between our Indigenous community and our community as a whole.
Gender equity has been a significant part of the University of Waterloo for the better part of a decade, first through the UN Women HeForShe initiative and now our continuing efforts to bring true gender equity for our students, faculty and staff members. We all have a role to play to ensure those who identify as women have a seat at the table and drive positive change at Waterloo.
Men in particular have an essential role in advocating for equity and fighting against toxic masculinity that can breed violence and apathy towards those who identify as women. Waterloo’s efforts have shown that measurable, positive change does not take generations to transpire. It only takes a plan and the will to start.
Grassroots, community-driven change
Throughout Waterloo’s anti-racism, Indigenous Initiatives and gender equity work, the power of a grassroots, bottom-up approach to advocating and delivering change has been essential. A top-down draconian push does not create sustainable change that lasts generations.
Leaders can empower positive change within a community that lasts the test of time, leadership and generational change by building community buy-in, supporting those who want to help drive change and eliminating barriers to change.
There’s work to be done within institutions of all sizes and now is the time to get that work underway.