The Catalyst Anti-racism Newsletter - Issue 23

Monday, May 29, 2023
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Welcome to the 23rd 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.  

View the past issues of The Catalyst.  

In this issue:

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Message from the editor

Celebrating Asian heritage

Lotus and a lily pad on water

A Message from Vivek Goel President and Vice-Chancellor 

Asian Heritage Month offers us the opportunity to pay special attention to the vital roles our community members of Asian heritage play in the success of our institution, while also recognizing the important work needed to eliminate anti-Asian racism, and all forms of racism, on our campuses.   

Our recent equity survey noted that close to 50 per cent of our student population had Asian heritage, and we also have a large Asian community represented within our staff and faculty. Across UWaterloo people from a wide variety of Asian cultures and backgrounds are contributing to every aspect of life in our shared community. We have a notable Asian community represented within our staff and faculty, and Asian researchers are doing world-leading work across every faculty, and many leadership positions are held by Asian faculty members and staff. Community members from a wide variety of Asian cultures and backgrounds are contributing to every aspect of life in our shared community.   

Read the entire message.

Anti-racism across campus

Waterloo launches Sankofa Pathways to University program

Sankofa Pathways to university text on a green, brown and red background.

The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism Office (EDI-RO), in collaboration with the other units across campus, has launched the  Sankofa Pathways to University (SPU), an educational pathway program for Black youth ages 17 to 25, from the Waterloo Region, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).   

The SPU, which commences late June, was conceptualized and developed by EDI-RO’s Anti-racism unit in conjunction with the Registrar’s Office. The initiative was developed to help Black youth who may be thinking about attending university, but because of pervasive systemic oppression, struggle to develop the confidence needed to succeed in these spaces.   

Read the entire article.

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Student feature

A rising star

Sarah Wilson

When Sarah Wilson graduated high school a year early and started in the Computer Science program at Waterloo, there were big expectations. As a high school student, Wilson was elected as a student trustee for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, served as chair of the Ontario Student Voice Awards with the Ontario Student Trustee Association and volunteered in several community roles. 

She won the prestigious Schulich Leader Scholarship as she began at Waterloo for her community involvement and potential for innovative research and entrepreneurship. 

Now, having just completed her first term of studies, Wilson is already making waves. 

Read the entire article.

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Staff feature

Meet Anne Galang, Director, Executive Communications

Anne Galang

Anne Galang is the Director, Executive Communications at University Relations, where she leads the Executive Communications team in advising and supporting the President and the President’s Office with strategic communications. 

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Anne Galang, who is of Filipino descent, has a Bachelor of Arts from UBC and a Masters of Arts from the University of Waterloo. She was a member of the President’s Anti-racism taskforce (PART) where she served as co-chair of the Race, Culture and Ethnicity Awareness working group and was a member of the implementation team. 

Working with PART, she was instrumental in not only developing recommendations for the PART report, but also planning PART events throughout the year. Galang moderated a panel discussion for Asian Heritage Month in May 2021, titled “Explorations of identity, perceptions and belonging”  which explored Asian-Canadian identity and anti-Asian racism.  

While Anne Galang has long been attuned to issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion, she credits her work with PART for giving her the opportunity to integrate anti-racism more explicitly in into her personal and professional life. 

“Working with PART has been such an incredible learning experience,” she said. "I feel so honoured to have been part of this initiative and for being able to work alongside such a dedicated and inspiring group of people.” 

The associate director of Executive Communications is pleased with the release of the PART report, which has 88 recommendations for dismantling racism. She is grateful to the many individuals who volunteered to contribute their time and effort to this initiative, during an undoubtedly stressful year of working during a pandemic. 

“Thanks to everyone who worked on PART,” she said. “It’s difficult but necessary work and too often this additional burden falls on the shoulders of racialized individuals. I hope you all make time and space to take care of yourselves and set boundaries and limits, and to celebrate successes.” 

Galang believes, however, that while there is a lot to be proud of, there's still a long road ahead. She looks forward to being involved in keeping the campus community up-to-date on the progress made on the recommendations, as they are implemented. 

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Research spotlight

Gautam Kamath among eight Canada CIFAR AI Chairs named Vector Institute Faculty Member 

Gautam Kamath

Originally published on Waterloo News on April 27 

Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Gautam Kamath has been named a Canada CIFAR AI Chair and a Vector Institute Faculty Member in recognition of his contributions to differential privacy, machine learning and statistics. He is among eight outstanding researchers in the latest cohort of Canada CIFAR AI Chairs to receive this prestigious national recognition. 

“Congratulations to Gautam on becoming a faculty member of the Vector Institute and on being named a Canada CIFAR AI Chair,” said Raouf Boutaba, professor and director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “Gautam’s research focuses on developing solutions for trustworthy and reliable machine learning and statistics. The fundamental work he and his students conduct is critically important as it allows useful insights to be drawn from data while preserving privacy of sensitive personal information.” 

Read the entire article.

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Alum feature

Going the distance

Stephanie Whitney

Originally published in the Waterloo Magazine in Spring 2023 

Stephanie Whitney's (BASc ’04, MEB ’13, PhD ’19) Waterloo experience has been a marathon, not a sprint. 

When Whitney enrolled at the University of Waterloo in 1998 to study environmental and chemical engineering and management science, she pictured herself acing her classes, building professional connections in co-op, and then moving forward to a career in industry. She did not realize that her career would bring her back to campus repeatedly — first for a master’s degree, then a PhD, and finally last summer to take on the role of director for research and innovation partnerships in the Faculty of Mathematics. 

Before all those achievements, however, she had to learn how to fail. 

Read the entire article.

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Bulletin board

Introducing UWaterloo’s Sankofa Pathways to University Program 

Are you ready to embark on a free of cost transformative educational journey that will shape your future?  

Who: Black youth ages 17 to 25 by the end of 2023,  

residing in Waterloo Region and the GTA 

When: June 26 to August 1, 2023 

Where: Online (synchronous) or Blended (online & on-campus classes at the Waterloo campus) 

How: Visit Sankofa Pathways to University  

Take the first step towards a brighter future with UWaterloo's Sankofa Pathways to University Program.  

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