Race, Culture, and Ethnicity Awareness

Responsibility 1

Review Waterloo’s mission, vision and values, and guiding principles through a diversity and inclusion lens to develop recommendations that reflect the needs of BIPOC communities.


The Taskforce has taken a broader approach to addressing this responsibility and offers recommendations that aim to address adjustments to the mission, vision, values – in addition to identifying ways to embed anti-racism approaches throughout strategic planning processes and ensuring accountability in achieving behavioural and transformational changes in pursuit of those values7.


Recommendation 72

The guiding principles developed in Appendix F should be considered in the development of future strategic planning in the University.

Recommendation 73


It is recommended that no changes are to be made to the mission statement at this time, as the mission is established in the University of Waterloo Act.

Recommendation 74


Revise the vision statement to use active language that is more community and culturally focused to set anti-racism, anti-oppression, and decolonial goals. The revised vision statement should be transformational in nature by making specific reference to how it will approach making changes in the culture of the organization and embedding anti-racism, anti-oppression and decolonial approaches to learning, research, teaching, and community life. It should also acknowledge the active responsibility that the institution has to remove systemic barriers and create respectful spaces, opportunities for collaboration, allyship in order to attract and retain historically marginalized students, scholars and staff.

Recommendation 75


Revise the values to include language that speaks specifically to anti-racist and anti-oppression beliefs, values and principles and promotes the ability of all members of the campus community to thrive. A specific value around action should also be added. Examples are provided below:

  • “We are an institution that welcomes people with diverse lived experiences who bring anti-racist, decolonial and equity approaches to learning, teaching, research and living.”
  • “We will recognize the voices of equity-deserving groups that have been excluded and ignored in our institution, and, building on the work and leadership of our existing diverse communities, we will continue to decenter systemically racist cultures within our institution and center and amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous and racialized voices everywhere.”
  • “We are Committed: By amplifying the voices of racialized students, faculty and staff we aspire to build a community that is equitable and decolonial. Acknowledging equity barriers in the postsecondary sector, we commit to decenter systemically racist approaches.”

Responsibility 2

Make recommendations for anti-racism and oppression training for all members of Waterloo’s community to contribute towards a culture of belonging.


Training, education, and event strategies should be embedded within the institution – supporting sustainable and meaningful action towards building an inclusive culture of belonging. The goal is for the University to be a leader in deep-rooted and embedded anti-racism and anti-oppression practices, and to show measured change, demonstrated impact and sustainable progress.


Recommendation 76

Please refer to Recommendation 6 (under Overall Themes – Training) for proposed anti-racism and oppression training for all members of Waterloo’s community. Furthermore, due to the important role that leaders play in driving culture change, the Taskforce recommends that the University establish specific training for Senior Leadership, including ways to monitor implementation, establish accountability and demonstrate the values that will lead the cultural shift required to establish a culture of belonging.

Responsibility 3

Provide recommendations on a module for students on the roots of racism and how to address, prevent and identify systemic racism.


This responsibility was identified as a key concern for the Community Collaborative, and for this reason it was acted on immediately by the Equity Office, in collaboration with the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Academic. The Equity Office released an e-learning course, Confronting Anti-Black Racism in April 2021, and this learning opportunity is open to students, faculty, and staff.


Recommendation 77

The Taskforce recommends that the University considers the following principles and guidelines, intended to supplement the work that has been done in this course, and for other areas across campus that may also be looking to develop anti-racism training opportunities.

  • To help accommodate different learning styles and support equitable access to the content, this module should include both synchronous and asynchronous learning components.
  • Understanding that everyone is at different stages in their equity-learning journey, the module should allow for self-directed learning by including some components of foundational learning as well as advanced learning options. This flexibility will help keep all learners engaged in the content.
  • The module should include some ‘for students/by students’ learning where students are able to share their lived experiences of racism or anti-racism and create a brave space for learning and discussion. This will help learners better understand the student community and their specific experiences here at the University. Peer-to-peer learning is also an advantageous way to engage and include all learners as it expands their perspectives and fosters meaningful connections.
  • Consider the learning needs and differences of people who identify as a Black, Indigenous, or racialized, as well as other equity-deserving identities. The perspectives and position of those students while learning about anti-racism and anti-oppression will be different from those who identify as White.
  • Ensure mental health support or additional support is considered through the development of the module and is in place for student participants who seek additional resources as people undergo the training and after their training experiences.
  • Ensure that there is an evaluation and reporting mechanism to receive and address feedback from participants.
  • Ensure public reporting to the university community on both qualitative and quantitative feedback from participants on the module and their experiences.

Responsibility 4

Recommend mechanisms for gathering BIPOC input at all levels of governance.


For this purpose, the scope of this review was set to the University’s bicameral governance and other governing bodies (i.e., Senate, Board of Governors, Executive Council, and Dean’s Council). While the scope of this responsibility is limited to these central governance bodies, it should be noted that many of the principles discussed here can be – and should be – applied to other bodies and committees across the University.

In reviewing the makeup and processes of the governance bodies and structures at the University, the following observations were made:

  • A |Currently, there is an underrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized leaders in these bodies,
  • B |Black, Indigenous, and other racialized members of the community face barriers to joining governance bodies under the current governance and appointment processes and practices.


Recommendation 78

Set targets, in line with the Government of Canada’s 50/30 challenge – gender parity (50% women and/or non-binary people) and significant representation (30%) of other equity deserving groups, including Black, Indigenous, and other racialized persons, taking intersectionality into consideration.

  • Setting and working toward meeting targets are a good first step to shifting representation at governance tables. The institution should also consider mechanisms to move closer to or meet targets at each of the regular recruitment cycles of new members to governance tables, reporting on these mechanisms, providing projections on when targets will be met, and educating staff, faculty, and students about the importance of equity in governance.

Recommendation 79

Until the institution can embed more diverse and sustainable representation in the University’s bicameral governing structures, it is recommended that the institution establish interim solutions to ensure equitable representation on leadership governance bodies by creating supplementary positions to these tables, dedicated to racialized and Indigenous individuals. These supplementary positions, if non-voting, need nevertheless to be empowered with the authority to work with the leaders and communities across the institution to be fully effective in bringing diverse opinions to the table. With experience serving at governance tables, individuals in these positions would then become ideal candidates for recruitment into regular positions at governance tables, as these arise.

Recommendation 80

Ensure inclusive and intentional recruitment, hiring and retention of more Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals into faculty and staff positions, which will support the creation of a qualified and diverse pool of leadership-ready community members for governance roles.

Recommendation 81

Ensure inclusive and intentional recruitment, hiring and retention of more Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals into senior leadership positions. Review institutional appointment processes for senior leaders to ensure the process of appointing individuals is also based upon anti-racist, decolonial and equity principles.

Recommendation 82

Develop Pathways to Leadership Programs designed specifically for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals to create and support qualified candidate pools. These programs will develop leadership competencies and capacities to enhance and support pathways to leadership.

Recommendation 83

Develop mentorship and sponsorship programs for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals to support them in their path to senior leadership and governance roles and support their growth and success while in a leadership role.

Responsibility 5

Provide recommendations for race, culture and ethnicity awareness initiatives driven by undergraduate and graduate students, including recommendations on funding for such activities.


Mobilizing and empowering students to lead events that build a culture of anti-racism on campus is key to enacting the cultural shift required across the campus community to combat racism and promote equity, justice, and access for all. Based on the environmental scans that were conducted for this purpose, much of this work is already being led by student associations. This recommendation seeks to ensure stable, trusted, and resourced8 administrative support and partnership is established, to build on the work already underway by students.

For meaningful action to be taken in support of student-led initiatives to promote race, culture and ethnicity on campus, an institutional unit (specifically, the Student Success Office) should act as the backbone support resource – providing the administrative and financial stability needed to enable authentic and sustainable action in increasing awareness, education, and participation of student events to promote anti-racism across campus.


Recommendation 84

The SSO, in consultation with student groups, should host a series of events throughout the year that focuses on building race, culture and ethnicity awareness within the student body.

Responsibility 6

Make recommendations for establishing diversity and inclusion representatives related to the anti-racism file for consultation, with regard to language and culture, who provide advice to staff/faculty/students.


The University of Waterloo has been intentional in ensuring that the voices of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized persons have led the work of PART. These students, staff, and faculty have provided advice and/or recommendations aimed at transforming the University’s culture, policies, and practices. However, for the most part, they have engaged in this work in a non-sustainable manner – as they also juggled their normal duties and responsibilities. To ensure the viability of this initiative, and for the University to meet its anti-racism mission, it is important that it builds its institutional capacity.


Recommendation 85

The University should create specific equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism roles that are appropriately compensated and can provide expert advice and guidance across the organization. The Taskforce acknowledges that there has been an increase in such positions9 throughout the institution, commends the addition of these positions and recommends that additional positions are considered across Faculties and Academic Support Units, to further increase and embed Indigenous, anti-racism and equity considerations throughout all operations. This recommendation should also be achieved through the EDI-R Program Area Leads (PALS) program that was announced in Fall 202110.

Recommendation 86

The Offices of IR and EDI-R should be primarily responsible for organizing and hosting events and opportunities that support Black, Indigenous, and other racialized students, faculty, and staff in exploring and celebrating their own activities. The following key factors should be taken into consideration:

  • The events should be particularly open/accessible to members of the targeted racialized groups and should be conducted in a safe, respectful, and supportive manner.
  • The University should provide the necessary supports, including funding and suitable facilities and spaces (e.g., smudging and meditation rooms) for these events.

Responsibility 8

Discuss and provide ideas and suggestions for events that educate the university at large, including our alumni community, about an inclusive society, systemic racism, and the need for a variety of voices at all levels.


Over the course of 2021, the Race, Culture, and Ethnicity Awareness Implementation Team organized and supported seven events and five anti-racism book club sessions to educate the University, and raise awareness on race, culture, and ethnicity (see “Implementation Team: Race, Culture, and Ethnicity Awareness”) for more information. These events (open to all faculty, staff, and students) explored history, identity, mental health and wellness, systemic inequalities, dismantling oppressive systems and other important topics.


Following the success of these events, the Taskforce recommends the following:

Recommendation 87

The Taskforce offers a 16-month calendar (see Appendix H) outlining days of observances:

  • Publish this 16-month calendar for student groups, faculties, and academic support units to acknowledge and celebrate significant dates.
  • Commit to publicly acknowledge and celebrate the following key commemorative dates annually: Black History month; International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Asian Heritage month; International Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development; Indigenous History month; National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. These events should be hosted by the appropriate areas on campus (e.g., the Office of Indigenous Relations should organize events for Indigenous history month). However, other areas such as University Relations should support these events (e.g., creating promotional material, promoting the events on social media).
  • A campus-wide message from the President should be sent out for key commemorative dates on the calendar that cannot be celebrated via an event (e.g., International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination).
  • The Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism and the Office of Indigenous Relations should regularly review the calendar to ensure that the University acknowledges and celebrates key commemorative dates.

Recommendation 88

The Book Club should continue to be a safe place to learn and unlearn about race, culture, and ethnicity with facilitators that can lead discussions on the books on PART’s reading list11.

7The Taskforce acknowledges that the University has anti-racism mission, vision, and guiding principles, which are communicated on its anti-racism website. However, it recommends that the University embed anti-racism approaches in its next strategic planning cycle.

8In addition to possible funding opportunities (see Appendix G), the University may consider establishing an endowment fund to support these student-driven events.

9These positions include, but are not limited to: Director Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Research, International and Commercialization, Office of Research; Manager, Research Program Development and Partnerships, Indigenous Initiatives, Office of Research; Project Manager, Research Equity, Office of Research; Anti-Racism Communications Manager, University Relations; Student Equity Specialist, Student Success Office; International Recruitment Specialist, Registrar’s Office.