Black History Month

Message from President Goel

By Vivek Goel President and Vice-Chancellor

The beginning of February marks the start of Black History Month 2023. The University of Waterloo is pleased to celebrate the diversity of people of African descent in Canada and their importance to the history and prosperity of this country.

While Canada is the strong and thriving country it is today largely because of the incredible diversity of people residing here, there is no doubt that Black people have made, and continue to make significant contributions to the growth and development of our country.

In 1995, former MP Dr. Jean Augustine, the first Black woman to be elected to parliament, introduced a motion to recognize February as Black History Month, across Canada. Today, Black History Month helps provide a more complete account of the contributions that generations of Black people have made to Canada, which has historically been ignored.

Black History Month is a time to celebrate Black Excellence, a term used to describe the individual achievements and successes, contributions and perseverance of the Black community. As we celebrate Black Excellence, we must also reflect on the centuries of struggle and sacrifice that they have endured as a people and continue to face today. The tragic murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police and other incidents of hate-motivated violence recently in the news are a terrible and visceral reminder of the plague of racism in our society.

Beyond the 28 days of February, I urge you to remember that Black people live their Blackness every day. Collectively, they are subjected to racism, discrimination, suspicion, profiling and a myriad of inequities, because of the colour of their skin. I encourage you to reflect on the courage and resilience of our Black community, who have prevailed and thrived in the face of oppression and injustice.

Although UWaterloo has shown its commitment to confronting Anti-Black racism by signing on to the Scarborough Charter and working to implement the recommendations of the President’s Anti-racism Taskforce (PART) , I recognize the tremendous amount of work that we have yet to do to continue to advance Black inclusion.

Racism and oppression have no room in our community. We must work together to help end racial profiling, eradicate barriers to employment and advancement and dismantle policies and processes that perpetuate disparities during Black History Month, and beyond.

We need the full commitment and support from the University community to continue to build and sustain a welcoming community that embraces diversity and inclusion. Together, we will overcome discrimination and oppression and create a fairer and more inclusive Canada for all.

Please take this opportunity to learn more about Black History Month. Visit our Black History Month 2023 for the latest events and stories.