Anti-Racism Initiative

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

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 Summer 2020, Fall 2020 and Winter 2020/2021 Regional Council solicited 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.
  • An open survey over the summer to solicit input in the development of the Anti-Racism plan and Secretariat. The survey closed on August 28, 2020.
  • Recruiting for an Anti Racism Advisory Working Group during Fall 2020.
  • Anti Racism Advisory Working Group members were announced November 21th, 2020.
  • The Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group had its first inaugural meeting on December 21st, 2020 and continues to meet during 2021.


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

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 Summer 2020, Fall 2020 and Winter 2020/2021 Regional Council solicited 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.
  • An open survey over the summer to solicit input in the development of the Anti-Racism plan and Secretariat. The survey closed on August 28, 2020.
  • Recruiting for an Anti Racism Advisory Working Group during Fall 2020.
  • Anti Racism Advisory Working Group members were announced November 21th, 2020.
  • The Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group had its first inaugural meeting on December 21st, 2020 and continues to meet during 2021.


  • Statement from ARAWG Co-Convenors: Kamloops, BC Residential School

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    On the weekend of May 30, 2021 news was released that the bodies of 215 children were found in unmarked graves at Kamloops Indian Residential School. While this may have been news to the settler population of Canada, this news was common knowledge within First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities. Amid an unearthing of the 215 bodies, our collective words seem weak and useless. Our grief cannot bring back those lives. We need to act. We need to do differently. First Nations, Metis and Inuit historic relations with a colonial and white supremacist government has been fraught with disposition and oppression, with a clear intent to assimilate. As a result, genocide was and continues to be committed towards First Nations, Metis, and Inuit within Canada. As you take a moment of silence to mourn the loss of 215 young lives at the hands of a colonial and white supremacist structure, we ask that you take the next moment to determine a course of action. While truths continue to be told and evidence begins to mount outside of the oral traditions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit, we invite you to engage in an individual and collective course of action. Individually, increase your knowledge base of legislation and the colonial systems that imposed oppression. Read the entire Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, not just the Action Items. Collectively, review and revise your own systems of oppression to encourage more diversity and equity. Today, as the Anti Racism Advisory Working Group tasked by Regional Council, we call on the Region of Waterloo and Regional officials to take remedial action. Make it your mandate to establish an allocation of funds to address Indigenous realities in our Region that are grounded in oppression and inequity. Make it your mandate to seek a more intentional working relationship between regional services and Indigenous peoples and groups. Today, as the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group of the Waterloo Region, we ask you, as individuals across our Region, to take account of the ways in which your actions or your inactions, your silence, or your words, have implicated you in injustice. Today we ask you to pause for a moment and listen to the voices of lives lost at the hands of a colonial and racist system and then do differently. We need both individual and collective action in order to realize meaningful change for all nations across Turtle Island (Canada).


    ARAWG Co-Convenors

    Kathy Hogarth

    Donna Dubie

  • ARAWG - Jan 13th 2021 update

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    ARAWG Meeting 2021-1

    On Tuesday, January 5th, 2021, the Anti Racism Advisory Working Group (ARAWG) convened for its first meeting of the year.

    The Terms of Reference drafted by the ARAWG selection committee represent the guiding principles of the ARAWG. The meeting focused on the terms of reference , in order to ensure alignment with the stated mandate and responsibilities. Given the potentially broad scope of the engagement and directed opportunity for actual ARAWG Member feedback, the Working Group will finalize the Terms of Reference in the coming weeks, ensuring it is principled in an anti-oppressive and inclusive framework.

    Concurrent to the review of the Terms of Reference is the review of the status of equity work in the Region and its respective agencies, the Municipalities and Townships.

    As part of the pandemic response and recovery efforts, the Region of Waterloo has formed a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, which will draw on expertise of staff from several agencies. The Task Force will ensure that an efficient, equitable plan is in place for delivery of the immunization program. The Region has invited two members of ARAWG to join the community engagement working group to the Task Force. Maedith Radlein and Tammy Webster will represent the ARAWG. ARAWG involvement earmarks the importance of inclusion in Regional program delivery.

    The ARAWG will conduct meetings every three weeks – virtual meetings, at this time.

    Geraldine Stafford - Co-Convener

    About the Anti Racism Advisory Working Group

    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.

    The selection committee chose applicants for a two-year term 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. ARAWG Members include Kathy Hogarth, Victoria Oywak, Tammy Webster, Amy Smoke, Ciann Wilson, Fauzia Mazhar, Donna Dubie, Geraldine Stafford, Cheyanne Thorpe, Krishna Karur Badrinarayan, and Maedith Radlein.

  • December 21st Update - First Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group Meeting

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    On Monday December 14th, 2020 the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group (ARAWG) had their first meeting.

    In attendance were:

    • Kathy Hogarth, Tammy Webster, Amy Smoke, Ciann Wilson, Fauzia Mazhar, Donna Dubie, Geraldine L. Stafford, Cheyanne Thorpe, Krishna Karur Badrinarayan, and Maedith Radlein;
    • Selection Committee Members: Omi Ra, Ismail Mohamed, Jean Becker, Grace Ibrahima and Lois MacDonald;
    • Chair Karen Redman;
    • Bruce Lauckner, Region of Waterloo Chief Administrative Officer and;
    • Connie MacDonald, Region of Waterloo Chief Communications and Strategy Officer.

    During this introductory meeting, members the ARAWG spent the time building rapport, a necessary foundation for the collaborative work that they will be doing together. The group is excited and looking forward to their shared work together.

    The next meeting will be scheduled either late December 2020 or in January 2021.

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

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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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.

    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.

  • July 21, 2020 New date added for Town Hall

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    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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    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.