Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group: April 2022 Update

The Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group has been meeting regularly since January 2021, to discuss issues pertaining to the Black Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) community in the Region of Waterloo.

The ARAWG intends to be proactive and transformational. It has collaboratively created the following recommendations to Council based on the collective knowledge, experience, and research of its members.

The ARAWG is unanimous in its support of this report.

Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group Recommendations

Hiring Practices


Best practices and data support the fact that a diverse workforce is necessary to created an Anti-Racist working environment. Historically, the Region of Waterloo has lacked racialized leadership and staffing at all levels of employment. Staffing surveys will reveal evidence that the staffing complement requires more diversity.


  1. By the end of 2022, the Region of Waterloo’s Human Resources Department must implement policies to hold equivalent other methods of experience/education beyond the current practice of only accepting formalized education degrees and certificates. This includes:
    1. Acknowledging that within Indigenous communities life experiences, community connections and other ways of knowing are integral to the culture, and must be highly valued by the Region;
    2. Addressing the issue of equivalence for non-Canadian qualifications, and working to understand and value international accreditation;
    3. Creating a hiring policy that actively seeks out the lived experiences and community-based work of BIPOC communities as accepted qualifications.
  2. Create targeted hiring practices to increase the amount of BIPOC staff at the Region of Waterloo.
  1. The current system is not accessible to certain populations, and must be amended to improve accessibility to the process from start to finish

  2. Set hiring targets so that
    1. The demographic makeup of Regional staff is directly and proportionally reflective of the ethnic population of the Region of Waterloo, updating this target on an ongoing basis as census information is gathered;
    2. Under-represented and intersectionality marginalized groups such as Indigenous and Black communities are given priority for specific roles. This is an immediate need as the status quo breeds violence against Indigenous and Black identities and thus excludes them from the workplace.

  3. The Region of Waterloo must commit to completing a staff census every 2 years to determine growth, patterns and gaps/achievements

Mental Health and Emergency Response


In recent years, the racializing of individuals and especially those in mental health distress have disproportionately resulted in death or injury by a police officer. There are few opportunities to access appropriate services and police are often called to these situations. Waterloo Regional Police Services have publicly stated on occasion that they do not have capacity for mental health calls and are often ill equipped.


  1. The Region of Waterloo must create and implement non-police based responses to mental health crises. Should a police presence be required, officers on site should be unarmed and serve as support, not as the primary intervenor for de-escalation.
  2. This would involve the formation of Crisis Intervention Teams with specially trained health and crisis response professionals including Mental Health Nurses. Such teams must be a collaboration between the Waterloo Regional Police Service, Public Health and local health-focused non-profits that have a proven track record of working positively in BIPOC communities. Response should include wraparound care such as:
      1. Training for emergency dispatch responders
      2. Training for all staff involved in Emergency Response
      3. Follow up care and mental health supports
  3. Immediate training needs to be provided for relevant non-profit staff and all current first responders, including police, so that teams can be formed in a timely manner to prevent response with force, weapons or intimidation. Data must be reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that there are enough teams available for response. Lives should not be risked by having untrained people responding at any time.

Regional Funding


  1. Regional funding for Indigenous initiatives must be offered only to Indigenous organizations. Funding should not be allocated to mainstream organizations which do not represent the Indigenous community at large. To bypass Indigenous organizations when seeking solutions to social issues is systemic racism.
  2. The Region, in consultation with Indigenous organizations, must actively advocate for all federal funding available for Indigenous initiatives and ensure that it is provided to Indigenous service providers. There are existing organizations such as K-W Urban Native Wigwam, the Healing of the Seven Generations, Anishnabeg Outreach, LandBack and White Owl Native Ancestry Association which should be consulted at all stages of the process.

Space for Indigenous Groups


  1. By the end of 2021, the Region of Waterloo must be in consistent and ongoing consultation with Indigenous organizations about the availability of community space. There needs to be respectful dialogue in a process that is Indigenous led.

Director Reconciliation, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion


  1. The role of the Director of Reconciliation and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion should be two separate roles. Reconciliation is NOT the same as Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and must be given the attention and expertise it deserves. We recommend two equal positions;
      1. Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
      2. Director of Reconciliation
  2. Both the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Director of Reconciliation should report only to the Chief Administrator of the Region of Waterloo.
      1. It is important that both directors work with both the CAO and the Chief Communications and Strategy Officer. However, they must be answerable only to the CAO. Communications is tasked with ensuring that the Region has a positive public image. The Director of Reconciliation and the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will be tasked with systemic change and may need to communicate difficult non-complimentary messages.

This separation is necessary and vital to maintaining the integrity of these positions.

Prepared by the Region of Waterloo Anti Racism Advisory Working Group.

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