Our Corporate Strategy on Equity and Anti-Racism includes eight actions that are a starting point for the City of Kitchener to meaningfully engage in equity and anti-racism work.

On this page:

  1. Actions and progress
  2. Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives staff team
  3. Equity & Anti-Racism Advisory Committee to Council
  4. Mayor's Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  5. Workforce census
  6. BE U Swim program

Actions and progress

This strategy came out of the work done by the Mayor's Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The actions outlined below are a starting point for the City of Kitchener to meaningfully engage in equity and anti-racism work. Most of these actions are internal-focused and intended to introduce change at an organizational level.

Our Corporate Strategy on Equity and Anti-Racism is made up of these actions:

  1. Establish a full-time permanent staff team to lead Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives work at the City of Kitchener (complete, see staff report and team members)
  2. Develop an Equity, Inclusion & Anti-Racism Policy which outlines the corporate commitment to equity, inclusion and anti-racism and specific expectations for leadership, staff and volunteers to support this commitment (complete, see staff report)
  3. Develop a Funding Opportunity for Black, Indigenous & Racialized Groups to support community-led programs, initiatives or events meant to decrease inequities and increase opportunities and well-being for racialized communities in Kitchener (complete, see staff report)
  4. Develop, Implement and Maintain a Corporate Equity & Anti-Racism Training Strategy, including ongoing, mandatory training for all staff, volunteers, leadership and members of City Council (complete)
  5. Develop and Implement a longitudinal, systematic Demographic Data Collection Strategy across the Corporation in order to better understand how representative staff, clients and stakeholders are of the community, and help identify systemic barriers and opportunities to make the workplace and services more inclusive (in progress)
  6. Develop an Equity & Anti-Racism Communications Guide for staff, leadership and the Communications Division as a practical tool and educational resource (in progress)
  7. Conduct an Equity Audit of Human Resources Policies & Practices in the area of Hiring, Recruitment & Promotion at the City and implement recommendations (complete)
  8. Develop recommendations for a revised Youth Mentorship Program for low-income youth to replace the original youth mentorship program which has been run by the City for the past 20 years (in progress)

The Task Force also recommended that an Equity and Anti-Racism Advisory Committee to Council be established. See the related staff report.

Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives staff team

Meet Kitchener's Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives team.

Andrew Ramsaroop, Social Planning and Affordable Housing Program Lead

Photo of Andrew RamsaroopAndrew has a background in Geographic Analysis with a Master of Planning in Urban Development from X University (formally Ryerson University) in Toronto. In his role as the Engagement and Program Manager for the City’s Affordable Housing Strategy, Andrew was instrumental in the development of Housing for All, which received AMO’s PJ Marshall Award for Municipal Innovation.

As the Social Planning and Affordable Housing Program Lead, Andrew’s immediate priorities include leading the implementation of our Housing Strategy and providing leadership in our response to housing and homelessness in Kitchener. He will also play a vital role in the development and implementation of our policies and programs related to social and community issues, including accessibility, mental health, and addiction.

Elin Moorlag Silk, Interim Director

Photo of Elin Moorlag Silk

Elin holds an undergraduate degree in Social Development Studies from the University of Waterloo, a master’s degree in Sociology and has over 15 years’ experience of policy development for organizational equity, demographic research, data collection and analysis, capacity building, and knowledge mobilization.

From 2019 to 2021, Elin served as Project Manager for Mayor’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and guided the development of a comprehensive Equity & Anti-Racism strategy for the City of Kitchener, including the identification of eight equity, diversity and inclusion-related priority areas.

As Interim Director, Elin provides support to the Equity, Anti-Racism, and Indigenous Initiatives team in driving forward this important and essential work at the City of Kitchener. 

Ileana I. Diaz, Research Associate - Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives
Ileana Diaz

Ileana has earned a BA and MA in Anthropology, MA in Geography/Migration and Ethnic Relations, and her most recent undertaking is a PhD in Geography and Environmental Management (ABD). She has over a decade of research experience as a principal investigator and as a research consultant. Her research has focused on issues of racism, gender-based oppression, disability, and other systemic forms of marginalization.

Beyond research, Ileana has worked and volunteered for numerous community groups both outside and within the city of Kitchener, including anti-racism initiatives, services for youth who are unhoused and 2SLGBTQ+ organizations.

Ileana provides research, analysis, interpretation, organizational support, contributes knowledge and advising on matters regarding equity, anti-racism, oppression, and barriers to access. She believes that policy and strategy are powerful ways to allow organizational transformation to reach the broader community and ultimately, her work is concerned with addressing the barriers to equity that multiple groups face. 

Jake Linklater, Senior Indigenous Advisor

Photo of Jake LinklaterJake is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and comes to the City with deep knowledge and broad experience of working to build relationships between Indigenous and settler communities.

Over the course of his career, he worked for the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, for the Federal Government in the Department of Indian & Northern Affairs, for the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation in the Environment Office and Saugeen Ojibway Nation Financial Corporation and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization.

He will be pivotal in developing and maintaining relationships with local Indigenous communities, working as our liaison, building on a foundation of trust, respect, transparency and reconciliation as we work to become more inclusive and equitable.

Rea Parchment, Senior Anti-Racism Advisor

Photo of Rea ParchmentA resident of Kitchener-Waterloo for over 30 years, Rea has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Sociology and Communications from York University and a Master of Education, with a focus in Cultural Studies, Critical Theory and Analysis from the University of New Brunswick. She is also a designated Project Management Professional (PMP) and is PMP certified, with formal training in mediation and dispute resolution.

Rea joins us with extensive knowledge of concepts related to race, anti-racism, equity, intersectionality, decolonization and over a decade of experience in research and policy development in response to community concerns, including racism, harassment, discrimination and barriers to access.

Rea will be essential in the development and implementation of a careful process to identify, disrupt and eliminate systemic barriers and racism within our organization, to support meaningful and sustainable change.

Equity and Anti-Racism Advisory Committee

Our Equity and Anti-Racism Advisory Committee to Council is continuing the grassroots community involvement of the Mayor's Task Force to develop and implement Equity and Anti-Racism work at the city, using a diverse lens and a community-driven approach.

The Equity and Anti-Racism Advisory Committee was established to:

  • Advise Council on equity and anti-racism issues in collaboration with the Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives team.
  • Support the Equity, Anti-Racism & Indigenous Initiatives team as a resource, a sounding board, and to provide review, collaboration, and feedback on ongoing work.
  • Surface issue that are happening in the community and help identify community priorities for equity and anti-racism work happening at the City.
  • Serve as a connection to the larger community when additional feedback and engagement is required related to equity and anti-racism work at the City.
  • Support, provide review, collaboration and feedback on equity and anti-racism issues across all departments at the City.
  • Serve as the selection committee for the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Equity (RISE) Fund, a community grant program created to support Black, Indigenous and racialized groups and organizations in Kitchener.

The Committee includes 8-12 members who live, work, attend school and/or own property in Kitchener and prioritizes the voices of historically underrepresented or excluded groups including Black, Indigenous, racialized, 2SLGBTQ+ identified, people with disabilities, religious minorities and the intersections of these identities.

Visit our advisory committees and boards page to find more information, including meeting frequency and current members.

Mayor's Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

In September 2019, we launched the Mayor’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). The Task Force included 45 members, who themselves were made up of four groups: community volunteers (selected through an application process), representatives from community organizations, city staff, and members of city council.

The demographic make-up of the Task Force included women (70%), people who are racialized (38%), people born outside of Canada (20%), those LGBTQ2S+ identified (18%), people with disabilities (16%), and those who identify as transgender/gender non-binary or gender queer (8%).

The mandate of the Task Force was focused on four broad areas:

  1. broadening community engagement in municipal decision-making – particularly for people who are traditionally under-represented
  2. improving equitable municipal service delivery to Kitchener’s diverse population
  3. encouraging, maintaining and promoting a more inclusive workplace and diverse workforce at the City of Kitchener for both employees and volunteers
  4. celebrating the full diversity of the Kitchener community

In order to create a Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for the City of Kitchener and develop actions that support sustained, meaningful change across the corporation, the Task Force split into eight working groups. City staff supported each of these groups through collaborative dialogue, research and targeted community engagement when required.

Key areas of focus included:

  • Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Policy for the City of Kitchener
  • Equity and Anti-Racism training
  • demographic data collection
  • guidelines for Equity & Anti-Racism communications
  • recruitment, hiring and promotional practices
  • community grant program for racialized groups
  • youth mentorship program development
  • staffing model

Each of the actions outlined above were developed in collaboration with members of the Task Force, whose lived experiences and expertise in a wide variety of areas directly informed the direction, scope, and content of each.

In May 2021, staff presented a report to update council on the work of the task force.

Workforce census

In June 2019, staff received a workforce census survey as part of a larger employee culture survey. The survey was administrated by a third-party company.

The mayor’s task force on EDI is using this data to:

  • identify potential systemic barriers
  • prioritize areas for focus and action
  • measure future initiatives to create a more inclusive workforce and workplace

We have a responsibility to serve everyone in our community. When our staff bring with them a broad diversity of lived experiences and perspectives, we are better able to make decisions that respond to the needs of everyone in our community. Research shows that increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace can lead to an increase in mental health and wellbeing for all employees, as well as increased employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.

Some quick facts about the workforce census:

  • our employee culture survey had an 80% response rate
  • this is the first time that we have asked these types of demographic questions of city staff
  • the Ontario Human Rights Commission encourages organizations like ours to collect this type of demographic data
  • staff participation in the census questions was voluntary, none of the questions were mandatory
  • staff could answer none, all or some of the questions

Download the census results

BE U Swim program

This new program provides dedicated swim times for trans and non-binary individuals, as well as their friends and family members to use our pools in a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment. These swims are available:

Learn more about the BE U Swim program and find registration links on our swimming programs page.