Anti-Racism Initiative

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Racism exists in Canada and Waterloo Region. It requires real action, not a political response alone.

If you missed the Anti-Racism Town Halls watch the recordings for Thursday, July 30th at 6:00 p.m. and Friday, July 31st at 10:00 a.m.

We acknowledge that we are far from where we need to be. We have to address racism in all its forms. It is our duty as elected officials, public servants, and human beings, to focus our efforts in working together to make real progress in our fight towards diversity and inclusion. This includes (but is not limited to), speaking out and working to change systematic racism — specifically towards our Black and Indigenous communities. “Systemic racism”, or “institutional racism”, refers to how ideas of white superiority are captured in everyday thinking at a systems level. These systems can include policies, laws and regulations, but also unquestioned social systems. Systemic racism can stem from education, hiring practices or access, which result in the exclusion or promotion of a designated group.

One of the Council’s areas of focus is: Healthy, Safe and Inclusive Communities. To achieve this, we have heard from the community that we need to make meaningful changes in programs, services, and policies, in order to address systematic racism and oppression in a meaningful and impactful way.

Over the summer and the fall Regional Council will be soliciting input from the community to inform recommendations for an Anti- Racism plan and Secretariat in the following ways:

  • Holding a Town Hall Meeting on July 30, 2020 at 6 p.m. Due to high interest the session will continue on Friday July 31, 2020 at 10 a.m.
  • Recruiting for an Anti Racism Advisory Working Group which will form recommendations. Recruitment to begin over the summer.
  • An open survey over the summer to solicit input in the development of the Anti-Racism plan and Secretariat. Submit your feedback now. The survey closed on August 28, 2020.
  • Recommendations will be presented to Council in the fall of 2020.


Racism exists in Canada and Waterloo Region. It requires real action, not a political response alone.

If you missed the Anti-Racism Town Halls watch the recordings for Thursday, July 30th at 6:00 p.m. and Friday, July 31st at 10:00 a.m.

We acknowledge that we are far from where we need to be. We have to address racism in all its forms. It is our duty as elected officials, public servants, and human beings, to focus our efforts in working together to make real progress in our fight towards diversity and inclusion. This includes (but is not limited to), speaking out and working to change systematic racism — specifically towards our Black and Indigenous communities. “Systemic racism”, or “institutional racism”, refers to how ideas of white superiority are captured in everyday thinking at a systems level. These systems can include policies, laws and regulations, but also unquestioned social systems. Systemic racism can stem from education, hiring practices or access, which result in the exclusion or promotion of a designated group.

One of the Council’s areas of focus is: Healthy, Safe and Inclusive Communities. To achieve this, we have heard from the community that we need to make meaningful changes in programs, services, and policies, in order to address systematic racism and oppression in a meaningful and impactful way.

Over the summer and the fall Regional Council will be soliciting input from the community to inform recommendations for an Anti- Racism plan and Secretariat in the following ways:

  • Holding a Town Hall Meeting on July 30, 2020 at 6 p.m. Due to high interest the session will continue on Friday July 31, 2020 at 10 a.m.
  • Recruiting for an Anti Racism Advisory Working Group which will form recommendations. Recruitment to begin over the summer.
  • An open survey over the summer to solicit input in the development of the Anti-Racism plan and Secretariat. Submit your feedback now. The survey closed on August 28, 2020.
  • Recommendations will be presented to Council in the fall of 2020.


  • November 27th - Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group (ARAWG) Members Selected

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    27 Nov 2020

    A community-led selection committee comprised of Omi Ra, Ismail Mohamed, Jean Becker, Grace Ibrahima, and Lois MacDonald has selected 11 members for the Region’s ARAWG. Selection committee members chose applicants based on their: history of community engagement; personal lived experience and interest; and experience using an anti-racism and anti-oppressive lens in activities/projects.

    Members of the ARAWG were publicly announced Friday November 13th, 2020. We would like to welcome the following members of the new ARAWG for a two-year term: Kathy Hogarth, Victoria Oywak, Tammy Webster, Amy Smoke, Ciann Wilson, Fauzia Mazhar, Donna Dubie, Geraldine L. Stafford, Cheyanne Thorpe, Krishna Karur Badrinarayan, and Maedith Radlein.

    The ARAWG will provide recommendations, advice and information to the Region of Waterloo Council related to the development and implementation of an Anti-Racism Plan to eliminate systemic racism within the workplace and the services delivered by the Region. Additionally, the ARAWG will have its inaugural meeting in early December 2020. .

    To view the full press release regarding the selection of ARAWG members please visit the following page.

  • October 30th- Update on Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group Applications

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    30 Oct 2020

    The Selection Committee comprised of Omi Ra, Ismail Mohamed, Jean Becker, Grace Ibrahima, and Lois MacDonald had two meetings on October 14th and October 26th to discuss applications for the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group.

    Selection Committee members assessed which applicants are possible candidates for the working group by referring to previously stated criteria of:

    • history of community engagement;
    • personal lived experience and interest;
    • experience using an Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppressive (ARAO) lens in activities/projects.


    The Selection Committee has narrowed down possible candidates; however, they will need to have one final meeting on Monday, November 2nd, 2020, to finalize the 11 members Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group. The Working Group is still expected to have its first meeting by the end of November 2020.

    Thank you for your patience as we navigate the Working Group. The Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group's future members will play a significant role by providing Regional Council recommendations through a Regional Anti-Racism Plan.

  • October 15th- Update on Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group Applications

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    15 Oct 2020

    We want to thank all applicants for taking their valuable time to apply to be a member of the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group. We had an overwhelming response of 73 applications from BIPOC community members and Allies, who are all incredibly passionate, qualified and bring their lived experience to help the Region of Waterloo address racism in the Waterloo Region.

    Selection Committee are Omi Ra (previously known as Victoria Rodney), Ismail Mohamed, Jean Becker, Grace Ibrahima and Lois MacDonald. They will need more time to thoroughly review all the applications and see how each applicant can bring their unique perspective, experience, and skills to the 11 member Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group. The Selection Committee is expecting to finalize the Working Group’s composition by Friday October 30th, 2020. Before this date, if clarification is needed, Selection Committee members will connect with the applicants by phone.

    The entire Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group will have its first meeting at the end of November 2020.

    Please visit the Anti-Racism Initiative Engage Page to subscribe to updates under the “Stay Informed” widget. The subscribe button can be found in the top right corner of the age. This will add you to the newsletter mailing list so you can stay up to date regarding the status of the initiative.

    Once again, thank you!

  • September 17, 2020 Selection Committee Update and Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group Application

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    21 Sep 2020

    The Selection Committee comprised of Victoria Rodney, Ismail Mohamed, Jean Becker, Grace Ibrahima and Lois MacDonald held meetings on August 26, September 2 and September 11, 2020. The group discussed and updated the terms of reference and the application for the Anti-Racism Working Group. The Selection Committee determined that the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group will consist of 11 members for a term of two years and that a Co-Convenor model will be used for the Working Group. This model is used by Waterloo Region Wellbeing and involves selecting two members of the Working Group to facilitate the meetings.

    If you are interested in applying to be a member of the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group, please review the terms of reference and complete the following form (click "form" to access application). The application will close at 5 p.m. on October 5, 2020 and the Selection Committee will have their final decisions for Working Group members made by October 16, 2020 . The Working Group will develop recommendations for Council to create an Anti-Racism plan based on community input.

  • August 18, 2020 Town Hall Summary and Anti Racism Advisory Working Group Next Steps

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    18 Aug 2020

    On July 30 and 31, 2020 the Region of Waterloo held two community Town Hall’s. A total of 32 individuals spoke at the sessions. Approximately 88% of the speakers identified as members of a racialized group or a member of the indigenous community. The recordings of these sessions can be found on the right side of this site under Background Information. If you didn't have a chance to participate in the Town Hall, there is still time to give your input. Please complete the survey on this page.

    Much of the input received provided direction to the Region about the creation of the Anti Racism Advisory Working Group. A selection committee has been created consisting of five community leaders that were suggested to the Region. We are very grateful to Victoria Rodney, Ismail Mohamed, Jean Becker, Grace Ibrahima and Lois MacDonald. The selection committee will develop the terms of reference for the Anti Racism Advisory Working Group based on the community input and will select the 10-15 members from a pool of applicants. Recruitment for the Working Group is expected to begin in early September with meetings beginning in October. The Working Group will develop recommendations for Council to create an Anti Racism plan based on community input.

  • July 21, 2020 New date added for Town Hall

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    22 Jul 2020

    Due to a high degree of interest in speaking at the Town Hall, the session will continue on July 31 at 10 a.m. To register for the second date, please complete this registration form. Registration to speak will close on Monday, July 27 at 12 noon. If you already registered to attend or speak at the first date, you do not need to complete this form again.

  • July 17, 2020: Register for the Anti-Racism Town Hall

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    21 Jul 2020

    Join the conversation! A Town Hall focused on Anti-Racism, will be held on July 30, 2020, at 6 p.m. through an online video call. The Town Hall will be an opportunity for all members of our regional community to speak to the systemic racism that exists within our community and provide ideas about how the Region can address it. This Town Hall is our next step in creating an Anti-Racism Secretariat, similar to what is in development or already exists in other regions and municipalities.

    One possibility of how the Secretariat might look, is it would act as its own division within the Region. Its focus would be on making recommendations to Council regarding regional services and programs that can positively impact the Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. The community has highlighted Ottawa and Toronto as good blueprints to look at as a starting point. Moving forward, we will seek community feedback on gaps, areas of improvement, as well as how a similar framework could be adjusted and implemented for the Region of Waterloo.

    Complete the registration form to be a part of this meeting (found in the 'Tell us what you think' tab). You can sign up to speak or just watch. The Town Hall will be streamed live if you'd like to listen to the presentations by the community. If you register to speak, we'll send you a zoom link to attend the virtual meeting to present. Please note that if there is sufficient interest in speaking, a second session will be added to hear more voices. A summary of key themes heard will be presented back after the session on this site.

    A survey will be available after the Town Hall if you would like to provide your comments that way.

    *Creating safe(r )spaces: The Region of Waterloo hopes to create an atmosphere where all voices are welcomed.We look forward to hearing about your experiences, being mindful of others' confidentiality, please do not share others' stories without their permission. Further, we cannot tolerate comments that would be classified as hate speech or defamation to others. We invite you to share your stories and opinions, remembering that we are all here in the spirit of community building and progress. Attendance at this meeting signifies your consent to the statement above.

  • July 3, 2020: Overview of next steps

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    03 Jul 2020


    A Town Hall focused on Anti-Racism, is scheduled for July 30, 2020, at 6 p.m. The Town Hall will be an opportunity for all members of our regional community to speak to the systemic racism that exists within our community and participate in dialogue discussing areas the region can address it. This Town Hall is our next step in creating an Anti-Racism Secretariat, similar steps to what is in development or already exists in other regions and municipalities.

    One possibility of how the Secretariat might look is it would act as its own department within the region. Its focus would be on making recommendations to Council regarding regional services and programs that can positively impact the Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. The community has highlighted Ottawa and Toronto as good blueprints to look at as a starting point. Moving forward, we will seek community feedback on gaps, areas of improvement, as well as how a similar framework could be adjusted and implemented for the Region of Waterloo.

    After the Town Hall, we will be posting an application on this page for community members to participate in an advisory committee meeting. We will be choosing 10- 15 applicants. This advisory committee will have a set mandate and will be selected to represent a range of Black, Indigenous and racialized community members. Members will participate in one to two working sessions to inform regional staff on the intended function of the Anti-Racism Secretariat, and best practices for training and building capacity, both internally at the Region and externally as a community.

    In the fall of 2020, Regional Council will discuss recommendations on the creation of an Anti-Racism Secretariat and implementation of an anti-racism framework, as well as training for staff and Council.

    In addition to the Town Hall, and the formation for the advisory group, Council has directed regional staff to report back with an update on two internal initiatives: The Five Year Diversity and Inclusion Plan, and The First Nations, Metis and Indigenous Working Group.