As we watch, read and listen to events unfolding south of Canada’s border we must recognize, that as a community, Waterloo Region is not immune to the same issues. Racism in Canada is unignorable and we need to acknowledge that there is more than one problem and there must be more than one solution. We cannot claim that things are different here.
United Way Waterloo Region Communities (UWWRC) realizes that as an organization we must step back, listen, learn, and work harder toward undoing the devastating effects of systemic racism. United is in our name and we want to ensure we stand behind that and beside all those who want to make a difference.
“We must listen to our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) community and let them inform, instruct and change us,” said Joan Fisk, UWWRC CEO.
These are easy words to say but harder to live by. For those who are not part of a BIPOC community, our experiences can be very different to others.
The Board Chair of United Way Waterloo Region Communities is determined that we work toward a new future together. “Being a visible minority, I have experienced my share of subtle but at times overt discrimination. But I must also admit that I have my own bias and I am not exempted from this evil. It is clear that the majority of citizens recognize this problem which is the beginning in finding a solution. United Way in its mandate and history is perfectly suited as a key partner in the difficult work of forging a new path”.
The events of the past weeks remind us again that systemic racism is a form of violence. It attacks directly and physically, and it attacks the very idea of equality and opportunity. We see the effects of racism every day in our communities through the racialization of poverty that has taken hold over generations, and in the disproportionate health impact of COVID-19 on black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities.
The vision of United Way Waterloo Region Communities is to live in in a place where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. We strive to eradicate poverty and social exclusion by bringing people together, creating opportunity for people to show love for their community, and by investing in the essential community services that help bridge the gap between potential and opportunity. We are committed to diversity as a core value, and we know we have much work to do to ensure we are creating an inclusive world, that we are learning with and alongside our communities, and that our staff and volunteers reflect the community we live in and love. We are committed to continuing this work – today and tomorrow.
Today we stand for hope, we stand for equity, and we stand as United Ways and Centraides in solidarity with all the people who live in Canada, our American neighbours and caring people across the world that are demonstrating for an end to racism, inequity and injustice in all its forms.