The Catalyst Anti-racism Newsletter - Issue 8

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Catalyst banner

Welcome back to our eighth issue of The Catalyst Anti-racism newsletter.

This month, our message comes from Charmaine Dean, executive-designate of the President's Anti-racism Taskforce (PART).

In this issue:

Message from the Chair

Charmaine Dean, PART Executive Designate
Charmaine Dean, PART Executive Designate

What a year it has been!  Our President’s Anti-racism Taskforce (PART), the team of advisors who help to advance anti-racism initiatives at the University, and all working group and implementation team members, have been hard at work developing recommendations to confront racism and enhance inclusivity and belonging on campus.  And doing this critical and difficult work in a remote work and meeting environment! 

PART has been an amazing force for change on campus.  Its activities have been driven by five working groups, four implementation teams, and a community of racialized individuals committed to confronting racism in all its forms, called the Community Collaborative.  It was this Collaborative that formed the seeds for the initiation of the working groups and implementation teams.

We have come a long way since we began this journey. Through consultations, dialogues, environmental scans, and other activities, these groups have been working intentionally to develop recommendations to dismantle racism and to initiate actions to form the foundation for institutional change, as well as inspire activity throughout our Faculties and Affiliate Colleges so we can work collectively to advance an inclusive environment for all our communities on campus.

I would like to extend heartfelt thanks to these individuals for sharing their diverse perspectives, experiences, and identities to help guide and inform approaches to address systems that perpetuate racism. Your voices remain critical to advancing anti-racism at our university.

I would also like to thank the many departments across campus, engaging in anti-racism initiatives and others embedding anti-racism values into their guiding principles and practices.

As we move towards finalizing PART’s recommendations, I am honoured to have supported this work thus far. While I look forward to formalizing recommendations, I recognize that this is just the beginning of our journey. The University still has a lot of work to do to actualize anti-racism values and support an environment that is free and safe from discrimination. We will be sharing more about what this process will entail in the near future and we look forward to the superb leadership that Jean Becker and Christopher Taylor will provide to us.

Once again, heartfelt thanks for your engagement, direction, high enthusiasm, and expertise.

It has been another challenging year working principally remotely and the year’s end has been full of pandemic challenges - yet again. Please take the time to rest and rejuvenate, and enjoy the holiday break – create many special moments. This is not the time to be concerned about what you have not yet completed – but a time to unwind and let peace flow into your activities. Be kind to yourself and to your families and friends. I wish you all a restful, safe, and just wonderfully happy holidays.

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Anti-racism across campus

Dr. Christopher Taylor
An update from the new Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism office

(Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on Friday, December 3, 2021)

The new office of Equity Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-racism (EDI-R) is excited to share plans and commitments developed in response to the Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion (HREI) organizational review report (PDF), which was shared with the campus community in October 2021.   

We are grateful for the time and energies that the campus community so generously gave to the external review committee: sharing experiences, frustrations, hopes, and - importantly- being an essential catalyst for the changes we are seeing and will see in the future.   

We know that we have work to do to (re)build trust and foster strong relationships across this campus. Our commitments outlined here are just a start. We will be accountable. We will be accessible. We will be responsive. We will be leaders in equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism, but we need you to be co-leaders with us. This is the work of every person on campus, and we are excited to create the space and opportunity for collaboration and community.  Read the entire article here

Registration opens for the January Anti-racism book club

The Skin We're In
PART continues its anti-racism book club series on January 18, 2022, at 12 noon with a review of the book The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by journalist, activist, and author Desmond Cole. Tracelyn Cornelius, Anti-racism communications manager at University Relations, who also works to plan and coordinate PART’s activities, will facilitate this session.

Winner of the 2020 Toronto Book Award, The Skin Were In was based on a personal essay written by Cole in 2015 called The Skin I'm In, which shared his experiences with police surveillance and carding. Cole’s 2017 chronicles of struggles against racism have been lauded as a comprehensive snapshot of the Black experience in Canada.

The Skin We’re In presents an uncompromising look at racism in Canada and its lasting impact,” Cornelius said. “Cole outlines a wide range of stories and experiences including police brutality, anti-Black racism in education and the oppression of Indigenous peoples.”

Cornelius hopes that the upcoming dialogue will help to identify concrete instances of systemic racism and illicit direct individual actions that can be done to help create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive society, free of racism and discrimination.

“This book also shares instances of how others have confronted racism,” Cornelius continued. I hope that January’s book club will be an inspiration to those trying to understand their role in creating an anti-racist society.”

Please find registration information for PART’s anti-racism book club here.

Student feature 

Tre Ford
Hec of a Warrior: Tre Ford named Canada's most outstanding player

(Originally appeared on the Athletics and Recreation website on Thursday, December 9, 2021)

Warriors quarterback Tre Ford has been named the recipient of the 2021 Hec Crighton trophy for the most outstanding player in U SPORTS. He becomes the first player in the history of the Warriors football program to claim the storied award.
The recognition caps one of the most dominant careers ever seen in Canadian university football. Since becoming the full-time starter in 2018, Ford leads the nation in passing yards and passing touchdowns, while sitting second in rushing yards. Read the entire article here

Staff feature 

Dr. Anita Taylor
Meet Dr. Anita Taylor

Dr. Anita Taylor joined the University of Waterloo in January 202, as the associate director of Strategic Initiatives. Since then, Taylor has been providing strategic direction, guidance, and support to several of PART’s working groups and implementation teams. Taylor has spent more than a decade in various strategic planning and implementation roles within the Ontario college system.

One highlight of her career was leading Fanshawe College’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) initiative. Quite similar to PART, this initiative involved developing recommendations that addressed gaps in policies and practices, and programs and services.

Taylor holds a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology, an MBA, and a combined bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. Her diverse academic background coupled with her lived experience as a Black Canadian immigrant helps her to not only understand inequities within an organizational and societal context, but also assists her in applying strategic planning and project management lenses to tackle these issues.

As a member of the Race, Culture, and Ethnicity Awareness implementation team, Taylor leads the planning and coordination for hosting PART events, such as the monthly Anti-racism book club, the Anti-racism forum, A Year of COVID-19:  Disparities, Inequities, and Inequalities held in April, Let’s Talk about Mental Health at the Intersections (October); and Dismantling Systemic Racism: Policy & Governance (November), among others.

Taylor is appreciative of the efforts of every individual who has supported PART, both past, and present. She looks forward to working with the University to advance its continued commitment to dismantling systems that perpetuate racism.

“It has been an honor to work on PART,” she said. “I have met many amazing students, faculty, and staff, who are committed to making the University of Waterloo an equitable institution where everyone can learn, grow, and thrive.” 

“This work hasn’t been easy work, but it was necessary work,” Taylor added. “Throughout this process, we’ve supported and built each other up. As we all continue to advocate for a more equitable and inclusive environment in whatever form, I would like to extend best wishes to everyone.”

Working group update 

group at at meeting
What’s next?

After 12 months of engaging in dialogues, cross-campus consultations, diligently reviewing environmental scans and literature reviews, running focus groups, and other forms of research, the five working groups have submitted draft recommendations to PART.

PART is currently reviewing these recommendations ahead of consultations with the Community Collaborative (a community of racialized individuals committed to confronting racism at UWaterloo). After this group had had the opportunity to weigh in on the recommendations, the draft report will be finalized and officially handed over to Vivek Goel, President, and Vice-Chancellor.

In January of this year, more than 30 individuals from the Community Collaborative volunteered to serve on five working groups. These teams were supported by members of PART’s Planning and Communications committee comprising: Sara Anderson, Tracelyn Cornelius, Jenny Flagler- George, Tyler Sabga, Anita Taylor, Olivia Fuju Taylor, and Tamara Zur.

PART is appreciative of the commitment and dedication of all of the co-chairs, working group members, planning and communications committee, and other individuals and units that supported this work to actively combat racism at UWaterloo and achieve a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable campus environment.

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The Career Starter Program

The Career Starter Program facilitates the transition of barriered youth into the labour market. It bridges the gap between talent and industry, introduces participants to the bio-economy as a viable career path, and enables employers to strengthen their workforce.

Career Starter provides bio-economy employers with 50% of a youth’s salary to a maximum of $20,000 in wage subsidies for a three to nine-month job placement. This will help the employer adopt a diverse and inclusive work culture while satisfying their need for skilled labour. Learn more here.