Actions to date

Immediate change and ongoing action

Early engagements with Black, Indigenous and other racialized staff, students and faculty uncovered immediate and swift steps towards ending racism in all areas at the University of Waterloo. Ongoing collaboration, conversation with, and leadership from Black, Indigenous and other racialized community members are driving additional actions, and long lasting and meaningful change.

Updates on action to date

Recruitment and hiring

Among many other actions, efforts led by staff, faculty and students have begun, including work related to the hiring of Black and Indigenous faculty for the upcoming academic year, as we work toward building a faculty complement that represents the communities we serve. 

Work has also begun to implement a system that diversifies applicant pools for employees and addresses barriers in recruitment and hiring for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals. In addition, a plan for the safe collection and use of race-based data has been set in motion to help us better understand the Waterloo community and reflect on next steps to improve representation.  

Membership in the National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity

Waterloo has joined more than 230 other institutions as a member of the National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity, an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community for faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students.

New curriculum and educational content

Progress has been made in developing new curriculum and educational content. For example, work has begun to develop and launch a Black Studies Program with the first curricular offerings in September 2022. The AVP, Academic and the Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Office is developing a non-credit anti-racism module.

Cultural events and spaces

To better reflect and celebrate the diversity on our campuses, a proposal for Indigenous spaces has been developed to serve cultural, social, and scholarly needs of our Indigenous colleagues and students. 

In February we held our first successful PART event celebrating Black History Month, which included a panel discussion, music by a local artist, and a keynote presentation by Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo.

Supporting Black, Indigenous and other racialized students

To better meet the needs of our student community, a full-time Counsellor, dedicated to the needs of Black students has been hired. 

The hiring process for a Senior Manager, Anti-racism Response is currently underway, focusing on supporting individuals who may have experienced racism and developing a university-wide process for reporting, investigating, and responding to complaints.

Anti-racism efforts are also underway within our faculties:

  • Faculty of Arts

    Several anti-racism initiatives are being implemented across departments in the Faculty of Arts. For example, the English Language and Literature department created an Anti-Black Racism Action Plan Working Group, which is engaging in activities that review pedagogy through an anti-racism lens.  In addition, Renison University College formed an anti-racism committee last year, led by Kathy Hogarth.  Its Social Development Studies department is also developing strategies to recruit more students from equity-deserving groups. Finally, the Philosophy department conducted a review of its speakers for colloquia and events, with the intention of examining the diversity and representation of these speakers, and making improvements to these line-ups.

  • Faculty of Health

    The School of Public Health and Health Systems created an Advisory Group, made up primarily of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni, to generate recommendations that address oppression and strengthen efforts towards equity, diversity, and inclusion. A report of recommendations that placed emphasis on barriers faced by Black, Indigenous and other racialized peoplesand individuals with disabilities has been developed.

  • Faculty of Engineering

    The Faculty of Engineering has announced an Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology Momentum Fellowship. “This prestigious Fellowship will provide financial support of $30,000 per year for 4 years for University of Waterloo recipients. This funding support ($25,000 from faculty and $5,000 from faculty supervisor) will allow the recipient(s) to pursue advanced degrees and undertake both traditional and/or non-traditional areas of research without incurring financial hardship.

    IBET Momentum Fellowship is intended to support Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Metis) and Black researchers in achieving their rightful place and respected inclusion in academia at the University of Waterloo. 

    The School of Architecture established a Racial Equity and Environmental Justice Task Force to identify areas of concerns around equity and environmental justiceand to determine how best to offer specific supports for marginalized students, staff and faculty.

  • Faculty of Environment

    The Faculty of Environment is conducting unit-level and program-level curriculum reviews to include decolonization, Indigeneity and inclusivity. Additionally, all advertisements for faculty appointments incorporate new language on equity, diversity and inclusion, and equity training is now mandatory for all members of departmental advisory committees on appointments for faculty members.

    The Faculty of Environment, its Departments/Schools, and its members, have organized a number of events during the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., the From Environmental Racism to Environmental Justice event) to raise awareness of and engage our community in discussions of Black, Indigenous and other racialized peoples and social justice issues.

  • Faculty of Math

    The Faculty of Math formed a Math Racial Equity Committee (MREC), consisting of faculty, staff and students who spearhead and coordinate racial equality work across the Faculty. EDI guidelines were also developed for faculty hiring, and an EDI advocate was added to each Strategic Plan implementation group to ensure racial equity is considered in the faculty’s strategic planning. 

    Faculty members have also partnered with the Faculty of Engineering and initiated the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowship, mentioned above.

  • Faculty of Science

    The Faculty of Science held a virtual Anti-racism Town Hall to listen to the Waterloo Science community share their experiences, ideas and suggestions for future change. This led to the formation of a Science Anti-Racism Taskforce (SART). Being grounded in the experiences of Black, Indigenous and other racialized peoples in the Faculty of Science, the SART focuses on issues and problems related to racism, and will make recommendations aimed at creating policies and procedures to eliminate racism in all its forms, and foster a culture of equity in the Faculty of Science.

The Water Institute

The Water Institute (which is aligned with the Faculty of Environment) established an Anti-racism Taskforce and presented a number of recommendations to address racism and its connections to water. As part of this work, the Institute supports an interdisciplinary Collaborative Water Program where students are introduced to Indigenous traditions. This program has led to projects like the Grand Expressions exhibit that captures the perspectives of Indigenous youth in a culturally appropriate and relevant way.

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Timeline of action

As our work and engagement continue to evolve, many of the approaches reflected below are in progress, are being considered and are being validated through the efforts of the PART working groups. 

  1. 2021
    1. Jul
      1. Launch of Anti-racism book club series

        The goal of the anti-racism book club is to help promote education, awareness, and a deeper understanding of race, culture, and ethnicity across campus. The series, which runs from July, 2021 to June, 2022 allows participants to engage on the complexities of several relevant and important subjects such as white fragility, anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada, the Indian Act, and the equity myth.

    2. Jun
    3. May
      1. Asian Heritage Month: Explorations of identity, perceptions and belonging

        This event featured a moderated panel discussion that explores Asian-Canadian identity and anti-Asian racism, particularly considering the rise in hate crimes over the past year. Panelists presented various perspectives from human rights law, private-sector diversity, equity and inclusion work, critical race studies, Asian diasporic literature, and their lived experiences.

      2. Launch of the Catalyst Newsletter

        This newsletter provides regular updates on the intricate and long-term work of the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (PART). It is also an opportunity to showcase the many staff, faculty and students who are engaged in anti-racism work each day on campus. 

    4. Apr
      1. First Anti-racism Forum

        The Anti-racism Forum, held multiple times a year, is intended to provide updates and discuss various antiracism initiatives happening across campus.

    5. Feb
      1. Held a community-wide Black History Month Celebration

        Rooted in History: A Celebration of Black History as Canadian History.” The event featured a panel around Blackness, performances from a local KW Black artist, and a keynote from MPP Laura Mae Lindo.

    6. Jan
      1. Waterloo announces membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity

        Read the full announcement

  2. 2020
    1. Jun
      1. Taskforce

        Made a commitment to establish a task force that tackles systemic racism, anti-Black racism, and anti-Indigenous racism on campus.

    2. Aug
      1. Executive Designate, Charmaine Dean

        Appointed an executive designate, Charmaine Dean, to steward the ongoing process, the formation, and the work of the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce. Dr. Dean will ensure engagement, planning, and action are representative of the diverse voices and lived experiences of Waterloo’s BIPOC communities.

      2. Pedagogy & Learning

        Committed to creating a Black cultural centre on campus.

      3. Support Funnel for BIPOC High Secondary Students

        • Committed funds to explore a Transitional Year Program for BIPOC high school students.
        • Committed to establishing Black Studies and Indigenous Studies programs.
        • Committed to developing a non-credit anti-racism module and make it available to all students.

      4. Ethical conduct

        Committed to directing students to the University’s policy on ethical behaviour and equity in the boilerplate of every syllabus. This will define acceptable behaviour and consequences if the policy is violated.

      5. Human resources and faculty

        Committed to beginning a new system to diversify applicant pools for staff positions and to address barriers in the recruitment and hiring processes for members of BIPOC Communities.

      6. Black & Indigenous faculty

        Committed to increasing Black and Indigenous faculty representation and dedicated funding for those positions.

      7. Faculty Development & Diversity

        Became a member of the National Centre for Faculty Development and Diversity, an independent centre providing tools, mentoring, and support for faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students.

      8. Training for leaders

        Provided initial training to university leadership on unconscious bias and systemic racism.

    3. Sep
      1. Community support and engagement

        • Held over 100 discussions with BIPOC faculty, students, staff, administrative leaders from Canada and representatives from campus associations about their lived experience and approaches towards campus equity.
        • Facilitated the formation of PART’s Community Collaborative, a forum of over 40 BIPOC volunteers brought together for broad consultation on the initiation and development of PART.

      2. Community Collaborative

        Hosted the first official meeting of PART’s Community Collaborative.

    4. Oct
      1. Thematic areas for action on anti-racism

        Developed, sought widespread community feedback, and finalized six thematic areas that would structure the work of PART.

    5. Nov
      1. Key responsibilities

        In consultation with the Community Collaborative, developed key responsibilities of the PART working groups and implementation teams. 

      2. Working groups

        Organized five working groups, with representation from students, staff, faculty,and other administrators based on their areas of expertise, to generate recommendations for the university’s consideration in each thematic area. 

      3. Implementation teams

        Established four teams to begin work immediately on campus in the areas of Campus Representation; BIPOC Related Programming; Race, Culture & Ethnicity Awareness; and Race-Based Data Strategies. 

    6. Dec
      1. Taskforce

        Initiated working groups and implementation teams and the task force.

Last Updated: August 6, 2021

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