Statements by Chair Redman

January 27, 2022
Statement from Chair Karen Redman on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to mourn and remember the millions of people who were murdered by the Nazis for being Jewish, part of a religious, ethnic or cultural minority, or based on having a disability, their gender identity or sexual orientation. We are thinking of our local Jewish community in Waterloo Region, as well as the survivors and families impacted by the Holocaust. Each victim, each survivor has a story, has a family. You are in our thoughts, and we are grieving with you.

The United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005. While our society, institutions and education systems have come a long way to understand systemic racism and address antisemitism, much work remains. Hatred, discrimination and racism have no place in our community. Thank you to the many leaders and organizations who continue to spread education, inclusivity and tolerance across Waterloo Region.

In Canada and in Waterloo Region, our differences should be celebrated, the reasons we are loved, and the reasons we can find common cause in inclusivity and empathy.

Statement from Chair Redman on National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

On December 6, 1989, 14 women were murdered at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal. Today, we remember them and mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. We remember the women, girls and gender diverse people across our community and our country who continue to be victims and survivors of gender-based violence and trauma.

I was honoured to attend today’s moving tribute to the women from l’École Polytechnique, held annually by the Canadian Federation of University Women (CUFW) and the University of Waterloo. Despite the passage of time, the CFUW and university’s tribute is equally powerful each year.

Thank you to the strong community organizations who continue to address the roots of gender-based violence, including the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC) and Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

If you or someone you know needs support, SASC has a 24 hour support line at 519-741-8633.

Today all flags at regional buildings are flying at half-mast to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Not forgotten:

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

 

September 30, 2021
Statement from Chair Karen Redman on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. A day for everyone to reflect, listen, and learn from residential school survivors, their families, and communities. It is also a day for us to pause and remember those who did not return home.

To mark Truth and Reconciliation week, the Every Child Matters flag is flying at Regional headquarters. Flags will fly at half-mast until October 5, following the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Like many residents in the Region of Waterloo, I will be participating in the community walk hosted by the Healing of the Seven Generations to raise awareness and reflect on the residential school system. I want to thank them for organizing this opportunity to come together and collectively mourn. I was also honoured to participate in a ceremony at the Region of Waterloo International Airport this morning and wish to thank the Elders who shared their knowledge and led us in reflection and remembrance as we continue our journey of reconciliation.

Everyone has a role to play in reconciliation. It is my hope that all residents take time today to learn and engage in meaningful conversations. We must acknowledge the truth of the residential school system and the impact it continues to have on Indigenous communities.

Sincerely,

Karen Redman
Chair, Regional Municipality of Waterloo

August 31, 2021
International Overdose Awareness Day

On behalf of Regional Council and the Region of Waterloo, I extend my condolences to the friends, family, and loved ones of the 61 individuals who have died in our community due to suspected overdose this year.

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. It is a day observed annually on August 31 in communities around the world to remember and honour those who have lost their lives. It is a day to acknowledge the grief of their family, friends, and loved ones. It is also a day to raise awareness about preventing overdose deaths.

In 2020 the Consumption and Treatment Services site staff responded to 188 overdoses. The CTS has been successful in supporting clients to use substances safely while increasing access to multiple services. There were no overdose-related deaths at the CTS and staff have helped to reverse potentially fatal overdoses.

We can each play a role in preventing overdoses in our community. Naloxone kits are available for free from participating pharmacies throughout the region. Waterloo Region residents have repeatedly shown that this is a caring community. We work each day to support and protect each other. You could save someone's life by knowing the signs and symptoms of overdose, using Naloxone, and calling 9-1-1.

Today is a day of remembrance and of action. 

Sincerely,

Karen Redman
Chair, Region of Waterloo

August 11, 2021
Letter to Federal and Provincial Governments Asking for Coordinated Approach to Proof of Vaccine

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford,

I am writing today to ask for your valued support and leadership to ensure clarity and consistency for residents, businesses and organizations as we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have seen catastrophic impacts of COVID-19 locally and nationally. We have seen these impacts not only from a health and economic perspective, but unfortunately we have seen these impacts touch all aspects of society.

As you are aware, public health indications are strongly pointing to a fourth wave and we find ourselves at a most critical crossroads in the ongoing timeline of how we push back against this pandemic.

Despite the devastation that COVID-19 has brought to our country and community, we have seen heroic and unprecedented efforts to safeguard the health of residents. The gains we have made because of high vaccine numbers have provided us with this longed-for opportunity to move beyond COVID-19.

Throughout the summer, I have heard loud and clear from residents and businesses in the Region of Waterloo that we now need a clear and coordinated path forward to protect these gains. This is my ask: for both levels of government to take a consistent and coordinated approach to proof of vaccination.

The intent of this letter is to loudly echo the voices of those residents and businesses that have come to me and my Region of Waterloo Council colleagues asking for vaccination passports. On behalf of those voices looking for a clear and coordinated way to establish vaccination status, we are calling on the Provincial and Federal governments to lead this coordinated effort in order to finally move us beyond COVID-19.

Over recent months, it has become clear that in the absence of a consistent policy framework, employers, businesses, event venues, and even individuals themselves will be forced make their own decisions. This fragmented approach will only add to the confusion within the community and unfortunately, it will prolong and sharpen the impact of further COVID-19 waves.

A fragmented approach will also lead to the unfair targeting of businesses by those opposed to preventative measures. Our businesses – the lifeblood of our economies and communities – need you now more than ever.

Understandably, there are many nuances that must be navigated, but without collective and immediate coordination we will continue to remain on the back foot in the fight against this devastating disease.

The critical crossroads I mention comes as we are seeing a slowdown in vaccine numbers. This slowdown may have been inevitable, but we are not in a unique position. As a society we have used proof of immunization for many years to support a transparent and consistent approach.

We ask both levels of government to take action and to continue with this consistent and coordinated approach.

We are in this together, and in order to move beyond COVID-19, we must move together.

Yours in collaboration,

Karen Redman,
Chair, Regional Municipality of Waterloo

 

August 9, 2021
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Leaving no one behind is this year’s theme for International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and it is a commitment we continue to make at the Region of Waterloo. Our vision is a community where everyone has meaningful opportunities to thrive. This means recognizing and celebrating the diversity of Indigenous groups across the world, and at home. Waterloo Region sits on the traditional territories of the Neutral (Attawandaron), Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. Each group has their own unique culture, traditions, languages, worldviews, and knowledge systems.
We continue to listen and learn from all Indigenous Peoples, as we work together to strengthen our relationships in ways that result in meaningful engagement. During the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, we partnered with organizations and members of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit community to offer a culturally appropriate and reflective space for Indigenous people who wish to receive the vaccine. By listening and learning, we continue to work towards creating a more inclusive space for Indigenous community members in the region.
As we work alongside local Indigenous communities to develop a region-wide Reconciliation Action Plan, Regional staff have engaged in training that explains the settlement of Canada from an Indigenous perspective; gaining a more fulsome understanding of our history and the inequities that continue.
It is by listening and learning that we work towards leaving no one behind.
We have much more to do at the Region and as a community, as we move forward towards reconciliation. We are committed to this work, and look forward to working with our partners to build relationships and achieve meaningful change.

July 15, 2021
Statement from Chair Redman on the hateful vandalism at Baitul Kareem Mosque

We are deeply saddened and disturbed to learn of the break-in and vandalism that occurred yesterday at the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge. This comes after another attack on a Muslim mother and daughter in Hamilton this week.

The attack on Baitul Kareem Mosque, a place of worship, resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage and theft. However, this is about more than theft and damage. It is about the impact and trauma experienced by not only the community members that attend the Baitul Kareem Mosque in Cambridge, but the entire local Muslim community. Everyone in Waterloo Region deserves to feel safe and hateful acts of Islamophobia have no place in our region, or anywhere. Our community shares values that are rooted in kindness and uphold diversity, inclusion, and respect. 

Please know that supports are available to you during this time:

  • Mental health support line for Muslim youth: 1-866-NASEEHA (627-3342)
  • Waterloo Wellington Here 24/7, Mental Health & Crisis Support - Phone: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE247)

Today, our thoughts are with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’ at Canada, the Baitul Kareem Mosque, and our local Muslim community.

Waterloo Regional Police are continuing their investigation and anyone with any information is encouraged to call 519-570-9777.

Take care of yourself, your family and friends.

Karen Redman,
Chair, Region of Waterloo

 

June 25, 2021
Statement from Chair Redman on the discovery of 751 unmarked graves around the former residential school in Saskatchewan

On behalf of Regional Council and the Region of Waterloo, I want to extend my condolences to the Cowessess First Nation and to Indigenous communities across Canada, including those in Waterloo Region.

For the second time in a month, words fail to capture the sorrow and sadness felt across this country as a result of the legacy of residential schools. The discovery of 751 unmarked graves around the former Marieval Residential School is another reminder of the systemic racism and discrimination in our past, but also our present.

I recognize that this news can add to the trauma and pain. Support is available for those in need:

  • Waterloo Wellington Here 24/7 Addictions, Mental Health & Crisis Support - Phone: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE247)
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) - 24 Hour crisis line: 1.866.925.4419 Website
  • Kids Help Phone, 24/7 distress line - Phone: 1.800.668.6868, Website

Residents can learn more through the Woodland Cultural Centre and The Truth and Reconciliation Commission

As a community, we must grieve this loss and reflect on this legacy. Reconciliation is a shared path and action is required.

In mourning,

Karen Redman
Chair, Region of Waterloo

 

June 22, 2021
Statement from Chair Redman on Canada Day

As Canada Day approaches, residents across the Region of Waterloo prepare to reflect on our country. It is important to remember that Canada Day is not about fireworks, but about people.

For many, Canada Day is a day of gratitude and celebration. Gratitude for immigration, gratitude for the sacrifices of previous generations, and gratitude for the services and community offered by our country. It is also a time for us to celebrate and welcome new Canadians, for whom July 1st is of special significance.

Canada Day is also a day for pause and reflection. It is a reminder of the inequitable treatment experienced by many communities throughout our history. This includes the treatment of First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, and their ancestral lands that we now call home and with whom we share this land.

As the past year has demonstrated, discrimination is in not only part of our past but it is also part of our present. Work remains to be done in our institutions and in our society to address homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and racism or discrimination of any kind.

Whether you choose to celebrate, or pause and reflect, or both, your decision is respected.

Canada Day is an opportune time for listening – listening to what Canada means to your neighbours and community members. Only in coming together, acknowledging the past, the truth, and supporting and respecting one another, can we move forward with hope for our future.

In shared hope.

Karen Redman
Chair, Regional Municipality of Waterloo

 

 

 

June 17, 2021
Statement from Chair Karen Redman on the Delta variant in the Region of Waterloo

I share the concerns of Waterloo Region residents around the increasing spread and impact of the Delta variant. Based on data presented at the Board of Health this week, we are in a precarious position. We continue to advocate to the province for more vaccines and mobile teams. Premier Ford and Minister Jones have been responsive and have committed to additional supports for Waterloo Region.

Every vaccine dose we have is getting out into arms immediately.

We have expanded capacity to deliver more vaccines, including through pharmacies, primary care, mobile teams, and public vaccination clinics. This includes new late evening clinics and the acceleration of second doses in high priority neighbourhoods. We continue to provide contact tracing and isolation support.

As individuals, the most important thing we can do is get vaccinated and follow public health guidance. Over 83% of Waterloo Region’s Delta variant cases are unvaccinated individuals.

Karen Redman,
Chair, Region of Waterloo

 

June 3, 2021
Statement from Chair Karen Redman on the finalization of regulations under the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016

 On behalf of Regional Council, I want to thank the Government of Ontario for listening to municipalities, like the Region of Waterloo, and delivering on its commitment to transition responsibility of the blue box program. This is an important next step in full producer responsibility for recycling programs.

For years, Waterloo Region residents and municipalities have been ahead of the curve when it comes to climate, waste diversion, and our recycling system. In fact, the classic blue box that lines the streets of Ontario was established 36 years ago in the City of Kitchener. Residents want less packaging in landfills and a system where producers are accountable for the packaging they create. As recently as last week, Regional Council has advocated for a system that reduces the cost burden on residents and incentivizes waste diversion and producer accountability. The aligns with similar advocacy from across the province, whether through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) or the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO).

As Waterloo Region and Ontario continue to grow, it is important that our municipalities have the tools to divert waste and create greener, more liveable communities. Thank you to the Government of Ontario for delivering on this commitment. We look forward to further collaboration and consultation as these changes are implemented.

Karen Redman,
Chair, Region of Waterloo

 

May 31, 2021
Statement from Chair Karen Redman regarding the discovery of children's remains at Kamloops residential school

On behalf of Regional Council and the Region of Waterloo, I want to extend heartfelt condolences to the families and communities of the 215 children found around the residential school in Kamloops. The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all Indigenous communities are in our thoughts today. This is a saddening reminder of the legacy of residential schools and an unthinkable, yet all too real history in Canada.

 I also want to recognize that words are not enough and that our actions must demonstrate our commitment to truth and reconciliation in support of the wellbeing of all residents in our community.

 The Region is working with Indigenous communities and leaders, including through the Wellbeing Waterloo Region First Nation, Metis, and Inuit Advocacy and Advisory Circle on training, education and other initiatives to advance the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. Last year saw the creation of the Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group to address systemic racism in our workplace and our services by providing recommendations, advice and information to Regional Council through an Anti-Racism Plan. I encourage all residents to read the reports of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The stories of families and survivors are powerful. As a country, a region, and as individuals, the 94 Calls to Action are critical for advancing reconciliation.

 In addition, there can be no reconciliation without truth and so we must continue to save the evidence and educate current and future generations on the tragedies committed through residential schools. Residents can learn more through the Woodland Cultural Centre.

I want to recognize the impact this news may have on the mental health and wellbeing of residents in our community. As we process this tragic news, support is available for those in need:

  • Waterloo Wellington Here 24/7 Addictions, Mental Health & Crisis Support - Phone: 1-844-437-3247 (HERE247)
  • Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) - 24 Hour crisis line: 1.866.925.4419 Website
  • Kids Help Phone, 24/7 distress line - Phone: 1.800.668.6868, Website

As a community, we must grieve these young lives lost together. And in our mourning, commit to continued action to ensure this dark part of our nation’s history is brought to light in our community, understood and recognized by all, and never repeated.

In mourning,

Karen Redman,
Chair, Region of Waterloo

 

March 18, 2021
Statement from Chair Karen Redman regarding Anti-Asian violence in Georgia

We are deeply saddened by the recent shootings in Georgia and continue to be troubled by the rise in anti-Asian violence that we have seen during the pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted and magnified inequities that have always existed. The roots of this violence are deep and familiar: white supremacy, xenophobia, and imperialism.

Anti-Asian racism has a long history and is both interpersonal and systemic. The increased racist language from the onset of the pandemic, with the virus being labelled “China virus” or “Wuhan flu,” has been incredibly damaging.

According to a Stats Canada report, Canadians with Asian backgrounds are more likely to report noticing increased racial or ethnic harassment against them since the start of the pandemic. More than 30% of respondents who identified as Chinese perceived an increase in harassment or attacks on the basis of race, ethnicity, or skin colour.

We have seen this here in Waterloo Region as well, with some individuals being the subject of racist comments on social media and emails containing inappropriate and abusive comments.

We understand that bias can be unconscious or unintentional and that racism is the combination of social and institutional power, plus racial prejudice.  Having conversations that confront this bias requires courage, respect and compassion, and may not always be comfortable. 

The Region of Waterloo is purposefully striving to identify, discuss and challenge issues of race, colour, ethnicity, and the impact(s) they have on everyone.

The most important thing is to continue this advocacy beyond the pandemic, by continuing to support racialized communities, and by making them visible outside of conversations around COVID-19.

February 02, 2021
Statement from CAO Bruce Lauckner and Chair Karen Redman
Celebrating Black History Month

February is Black History Month, where all Canadians can learn about the achievements and many contributions of Black Canadians in shaping Canada’s growth and development, both past and present.

Recognition of Black History Month is even more significant given events of the past year, including the death of George Floyd and the demonstrations on Capitol Hill, which remind us that we cannot take for granted, but must work to ensure democracy, equality and fair treatment for all.

These incidents speak to the importance of addressing racial discrimination for black, indigenous, and racialized community members and social injustice for all. Addressing systemic racism will foster relationships built on trust and restore faith in government services and systems; while bringing about healing and reconciliation.  

The Region of Waterloo has taken the following actions to address racial intolerance:

  • Created an Equity, Inclusion & Human Rights Unit aimed at a just, equitable and accessible Region where all people can reach their full potential.
  • Created an Anti-Racism Advisory Working Group that will provide recommendations, advice and information to Regional Council. This includes the development and implementation of an Anti-Racism Plan to address systemic racism within the workplace and within Regional services.
  • Created an Equity Diversity & Inclusion Staff Working Group who will identify key corporate initiatives to support equity and inclusion for all and support the Region’s Multi-Year Diversity, Accessibility and Inclusion Plan.
  • Continued to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #57: Educating Regional staff about “the history of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Indigenous rights, Indigenous Law and the Indigenous-Crown relations.”
  • Continued to support our internal First Nations, Metis and Inuit committee.

In addition, the Region has developed a dedicated webpage for Black History Month that encourages the community to learn about and honour the important contributions African, Black and Caribbean Canadians have made to our country. The Region is also promoting community and Region-led events on a variety of social media platforms and encouraging all to participate and share.

Karen Redman,                                                           Bruce Lauckner

Chair, Region of Waterloo                                          CAO, Region of Waterloo

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Jan. 11, 2021
Statement from the CAO and Chair

As a community, we have been impacted by the disturbing and tragic events of January 6th in Washington D.C.

On June 16th, Regional Council unanimously confirmed their commitment to address racism by supporting policies and programs that address the inequities that members of the Black community continue to experience within Waterloo Region.

The events that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6th were deeply disturbing and may continue to be emotionally distressing. Events like this question beliefs of democracy, equality and fair treatment of all residents in our community. It highlights the existing injustices faced by racialized and marginalized communities, the ongoing power imbalances, and the necessary work that myself and Region of Waterloo Council has already committed to action.

We will continue to work alongside the community to address systemic racism, ensure human rights, and equity for all our residents, including regional staff.

Karen Redman                                              Bruce Lauckner

Regional Chair                                              CAO, Region of Waterloo

 

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Oct. 8, 2020
Orange Shirt Day 2020

Today is Orange Shirt Day across Canada – a day for awareness and support for the survivors and families of Canada’s Residential School System. We acknowledge the harmful past and present consequences of our residential schools.

Orange Shirt Day is inspired by the story of Phyllis Webstad, a First Nation Elder in Williams Lake, B.C. It was this time of year – the end of September – when Indigenous children were removed from their homes to attend residential schools.

At the young age of 6, the brand-new orange shirt that Phyllis wore was replaced with a uniform on her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School, outside of Williams Lake, B.C. in 1973. The orange shirt that we wear today symbolizes all that Phyllis was stripped of and the emotional trauma that followed her in the Residential School System.

 For Phyliss, the colour orange always reminded her of her experience at residential school and she said: “how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”

 The last residential school in Canada closed in 1996, less than 15 years ago. 

·    It is estimated that 6,000 children died due to Canada’s residential school system

·    150,000 children attended these schools over 160 years

·    More than 80,000 survivors and their families still live with its legacy

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s work, concluding with the 94 Calls to Action in 2015, was when this horrifying part of Canada’s past came to the forefront of the minds of Canadians and was acknowledged as a cultural genocide.

Although there were no residential schools in Waterloo Region, we recognize there are residential school survivors and family members in our community who carry the intergenerational trauma of the past. May we remember them every day so we can move forward toward reconciliation.

The way we see our country and plan for our community as municipal leaders should be informed by our past. Today, we honour the survivors and families of our Residential School System. May we remember them each and every day as we walk together toward reconciliation.

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