Town halls call to end systemic racism in Waterloo Region

The Region of Waterloo held the second of two town halls on Friday morning, inviting delegates to share stories of their experience with racism in the community.

More than two dozen people spoke, calling on regional officials to address and dismantle systemic racism.

"My children were constantly stopped on the road and carded," Cambridge resident Marjorie Knight said.

One delegate, Lori Campbell, spoke about the camp set up in Victoria Park.

"The region has an Indigenous land back camp that has been thriving in Victoria Park since June 20," she said. "It has been there for 41 days. Each and every day, members of the camp, many of who youth, have been targeted by racism. I refer you to their social media to educate yourself."

Others, however, were critical of the town hall, saying delegates needed to re-live trauma to participate.

"The act of having this exploitative medium of having people share their darkest, painful and even shameful moments of suffering, while almost sensationalizing our pain, that is deeply rooted in white supremacy," Lang Ncube said.

Delegates called on the region to take action.

"Indigenous teachings talk about solutions for seven generations," Stephen Jackson said. "So, build something that will last seven generations."

Suggested actions include creating local leadership positions for people who are Black and Indigenous, defunding the police and reallocating money into community health and safety initiatives.

"We are committed as a council to have action," Regional Chair Karen Redman said.

She said the next step is to create a working advisory group of 10 to 14 people through an application process.

"It might be to set up a body within Waterloo Region, it might be a way at looking at our policies and whether or not some unintended consequences are stopping Indigenous or small Black wellness groups from getting the funding they need," Redman said.

She said the working group will be formed by the end of the summer, marking the start of a long process.