The Catalyst Anti-racism Newsletter - Issue 19

Thursday, January 26, 2023
The Catalyst banner

Welcome to the 19th issue of The Catalyst Anti-racism newsletter.

The Catalyst provides the University community with monthly updates from individuals and teams working across campus to counter systemic racism and oppression and highlights excellence from Black, Indigenous and other racialized groups.  

Click here to read past issues of the Catalyst.  

In this issue:

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Message from the editor

This month the message from the editor comes from Suping Zhao, International Relations manager and special advisor on China at Waterloo International. 

Celebrating Chinese New Year in China and Lunar New Year in Asian countries 

2023 Year of the Rabbit banner with a red rabbit

Lunar New Year in 2023 falls on January 23, also known as the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival. It is celebrated throughout many Asian cultures around the world as it says farewell to the Year of the Tiger and rings in the Year of the Rabbit.  

Among those who celebrate the Lunar New Year are Chinese, Singaporean, South Korean, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indonesian culture. Each has its own name for the New Year. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tet. In South Korea, Lunar New Year is called Seollal. 

Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar, a time to gather with family, reconnect with friends and enjoy all kinds of traditional food. There are also dragon dances, performances, fireworks and festival parades with music and acrobatics etc.  

Unlike western New Year, Lunar New Year is based on a different calendar than the Gregorian calendar that western countries use. It lasts for 2 weeks. The first day of Lunar New Year is called Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). It ends on the 15th day and is called Lantern Festival. In 2023, Lunar New Year begins on Sunday, January 22 and ends on Sunday, February 5.  

Lunar New Year is most often celebrated by eating specific dishes, usually with the entire family, and observing traditional beliefs meant to bring good luck for the coming year. One of the traditional food, dumplings, is similar to the shape of ancient silver and gold pieces. When you eat dumplings, it signifies taking in wealth.  

On the Lunar New Year eve, families wrap dumplings together, while chatting happily. Fish, another important food during the Lunar New Year, is a sign of abundance, because the pronunciation of fish in Chinese makes the same sound as the word surplus. Eating fish signifies that you will have savings of extra money or surplus for the new year.   

Red and gold are the main colors in Lunar New Year and symbolizes good fortune. Red represents good luck and happiness. Many people wear red during Lunar New Year and children often receive red envelopes stuffed with money from elders. 

Each year in the Chinese zodiac is believed to bear the characteristics of its namesake animal. There are 12 animals. The rabbit is the fourth animal in the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes grace, beauty, mercy and good luck. 

These 12 animals coincide with the lunar calendar and fall in a 12-year cycle.  

The order of the Chinese Zodiac is: Rat, Buffalo, Tiger, Rabbit (in Vietnam, the rabbit is replaced by cat), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.  

Which animal year you were born? 

Anti-racism across campus

1. Facilitating a sense of belonging in the workplace 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) and belonging in the workplace to combat bias and discrimination, and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive, will be a key feature of the Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) inaugural virtual Employer Impact Conference: The Talent Revolution, on February 15, 2023. 

The Employer Impact Conference will provide a platform for attendees to ask questions and engage in meaningful conversations about implementing direct actions to foster belonging, creating an environment of trust and understanding between employees, and building a culture of inclusion and respect, among other topics. 

Collen Phillips-Davis

CEE’s Colleen Phillips-Davis, associate director, EDI and Anti-racism and Bryanne Smart, associate director, Indigenous Relations will both be speakers on “The Journey Forward: Building awareness and capacity for an EDI-R and Indigenization strategy in your organization.” This session will highlight how creating a sense of belonging in the workplace can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity, which will benefit an organization overall. 

“Having conversations about EDI and implementing sustainable direct actions to nurture belonging can create an environment of trust and understanding between employees and support a culture of inclusion and respect,” said Colleen Phillips-Davis. “It is important for employers to make space for these dialogues as this is a key factor in building a diverse and inclusive workplace.” 

Bryanne Smart

“Indigenous communities often say, ‘nothing about us without us’ so including these voices in the evolution of the workplace is important,” said Bryanne Smart. “Acknowledging other ways of knowing and doing is a collective responsibility and we all have a responsibility to move forward with what we know now, and not relying only on the colonized approach to systems.” 

Both Phillips-Davis and Smart look forward to further integrating EDI into outreach and community events and hope that future conferences can focus on increasing representation of traditionally marginalized groups in leadership roles, including speakers, panelists, and keynotes. 

David Markin, senior manager, R&D Algorithms & Analytics, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging lead at Lumentum will be the guest speaker at this session.

Register and learn more about the event.

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2. Waterloo team visits Zimbabwe and East Africa 

A group of women

Originally published in Waterloo News on December 14 

A team from the University of Waterloo recently completed a visit to Zimbabwe and East Africa with the goal of establishing local connections and helping to showcase the University’s distinguished scholarship, teaching excellence and ground-breaking research and innovation. 

Leading this team was Dr. Christopher S. Taylor, associate vice-president, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism (EDI-RO), who was accompanied by Akua Amin-Asare, international recruitment specialist and Karuna Ausman, international marketing and recruitment specialist in the Registrar’s Office.

Read the entire article.

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Research spotlight

Doing the right thing

Majid Mirza

Originally published in the Fall 2022 magazine  

During his 10-year career in impact investing, Majid Mirza (BA ’08, MBET ’09, PhD in progress) saw the difference that socially conscious investors can make — generating not only wealth but greener, healthier and more equitable communities.      

Now, drawing on his spirituality and a commitment to social justice, he’s helping private equity investors ensure the organizations to which they allocate capital also operate in ways that are sustainable, ethical and equitable.  

Read the entire article.

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Alum feature

Building a bridge between two cultures through a beloved game 

Jennifer Guo (BA ’10) and her husband Adam Szakacs

Originally published in the Fall 2022 Magazine  

When Jennifer Guo (BA ’10) and her husband Adam Szakacs were expecting their first daughter, they thought of ways their child could connect with her Chinese and Jewish heritage in a personal way.    

“At the time, our family was living in Canada, and we were living in New York, so we were thinking about how difficult it would be for her to see her family regularly,” Guo said. “We wanted a way to keep the memory alive of family members and the experiences that we had growing up.”    

Guo recalled how, despite a language barrier, her grandmother was able to connect with Szakacs’s grandmother through their shared love of mahjong, a traditional game she had played as a child with her grandmother.   

Read the entire article.

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Bulletin board

Elevating Black Excellence in the Workplace banner

This February, Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) will reflect upon, celebrate and dedicate time to the Black experience in the workplace. The unit is hosting the ‘Elevating Black Excellence in the Workplace’ panel discussion on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. The virtual event will explore:  

  • Real stories about barriers and opportunities for the future.   

  • Tactics employers are using to highlight, create opportunities, and foster belonging for Black talent.  

  • Ways we can better future-proof Black co-op students.  

Speakers include Norah McRae, Associate Provost, CEE; Christopher Taylor, Associate Vice President, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism; Aileen Agada, BeBlended founder; Trevor Charles, Professor and Director, Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research and Shauna-Kay Jones, Motify founder. Register today for this free virtual event.  

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