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 is set to close 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 is set to close August 28, 2020.
  • Recommendations will be presented to Council in the fall of 2020.


  • Thank you for your interest in the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group.  

    This Working Group is being established to provide recommendations and information to Region of Waterloo Council related to the development and implementation of an Anti-Racism Plan with a goal of eliminating systemic racism within the workplace and services delivered by the Region of Waterloo. See the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group Terms of Reference for more information including mandate, responsibilities, meeting frequency and compensation. 

    The Working Group will review all the suggestions received from the Town hall meetings (July 30th and 31st 2020 and online). They will also review all the recent calls to action in response to systemic racism from within Waterloo Region. Staff will summarize the key calls to action from the following groups below for the Working group to review, this is not a complete list, more will be included.

    • African Caribbean and Black (ACB) Network 
    • O:se Kenhionhata:tie Land Back Camp
    • The First Nations, Metis, Inuit Advisory and Advocacy Circle 
    • Immigration Partnership Council
    • Black Lives Matter Waterloo Region
    • other Black, Indigenous and People of Colour voices

    We would also like to acknowledge the calls to action and extensive work conducted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

    The Selection Committee of five community leaders: Victoria Rodney, Ismail Mohamed, Jean Becker, Grace Ibrahima and Lois MacDonald, worked together to develop this application and the selection criteria. They will also be reviewing all applications received and determine the final selection of the Anti-Racism Advisory Working group. The Anti-Racism Advisory Working group will be comprised of 11 members and will be selected for a 2-year term.  

    Applications will be assessed by the Selection Committee based on the following criteria:

    • history of community engagement;
    • personal lived experience and interest; 
    • experience using an Anti-Racism and/or Anti-Oppressive (ARAO) lens in activities/projects. 
      • Anti-Racism is the practice of identifying, challenging, preventing, eliminating, and/or changing the values, structures, policies, programs, practices, and/or behaviours that perpetuate racism. Anti-Oppression involves addressing oppression in all aspects of life, from practices to policies to ways of thinking and much more. Anti-Oppression is a broad commitment to equity and empowerment. An ARAO lens combines the two practices described above. 
      • Please be mindful that this is the terminology the Selection Committee has determined and that many individuals may not realize that they have used an ARAO lens throughout their advocacy, when in fact they have. As an applicant reconsider if you may have used this lens in your work without realizing it.   

    Regional staff will play only a support role in the selection process and committee operations.

    Applications are due by October 5th, 2020 by 5 p.m.  It is anticipated that final decisions will be made by October 16th and the Working Group will begin meeting starting November 2020. You might be called to have a brief conversation with the selection group members.  If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Sanjay Govindaraj at sgovindaraj@regionofwaterloo.ca.

    Information collected in this application will be used to ensure a balanced range of voices for the discussion.

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  • CLOSED: This survey has concluded.

    The Anti-Racism Town Hall meetings are an opportunity for community members to speak about systemic racism that exists within Waterloo Region and provide ideas about how the Region can address it. This survey will supplement the town hall input. It is available to everyone, including those who were not able to speak at the town hall.

    The survey will take about five to 10 minutes to complete and will close on Friday August 28. Feedback from the Town Halls and this survey will be summarized and shared in general terms with the Advisory Panel and in a report to Regional Council.

    Disclaimer: Some topics identified in this survey are outside of the Region of Waterloo's control. The following questions will help us determine next steps for our Anti-Racism plan. Your contribution is important in order for us to address racism in our community and will help in creating an Anti-Racism Secretariat.  


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  • CLOSED: This survey has concluded.

    Due to significant interest in speaking, the session will run over two days beginning on Thursday July 30 at 6 p.m. for approximately 3-4 hours and then will resume Friday, July 31, 2020 at 10 a.m.  Please complete this form to attend either of the sessions.  If you already registered to attend or speak at the first date, you do not need to complete this form again.  We are now accepting speakers for July 31 only as we have reached maximum capacity for the July 30 session. Both sessions will be a Town Hall discussion format, open to any member of our community. Some existing governance structures for an Anti-Racism Secretariat will be presented, similar to what exists or is in development in other regions and cities. The Secretariat could look like a department within the Region focused on making changes or developing new services and programs that positively impact the Black, Indigenous and other marginalized community members. The community has highlighted Ottawa and Toronto as models to look at and, moving forward, we'll seek community feedback on gaps and how a similar model could be adjusted and implemented at the Region of Waterloo.

    This session will be recorded for those who cannot participate live.  Registrants will be sent a link to join the meeting.  There will be an opportunity for participants to provide their comments.

    Subscribe to the anti-racism initiative page to receive updates.

    For more information

    If you have any questions about this work contact chair@regionofwaterloo.ca.  If you require accommodations to participate in this event please contact Sanjay Govindaraj at sgovindaraj@regionofwaterloo.ca or 226-750-6247.

    *The answers to these questions will provide us with information to send you the meeting link and to ensure your full participation.

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