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Challenging Systemic Barriers – The Equity Lens

Posted on August 24, 2020
By Elle Richards

Are you biased? Do you put people in boxes? Or are you culturally competent? Want to be the master of being inclusive? These are just a handful of topics one community is challenging its residents to explore.

Hand reaching towards the sun

This summer, Wellbeing Waterloo Region, a community-led collaborative where members work together across sectors to improve the wellbeing of residents, launched a social media campaign. Recognizing that inequity, injustice and racism happens across communities, and that addressing it requires transformational change for individuals, organizations and systems, A Daily Practice Challenging Barriers to Equity, makes it real by featuring local experiences and community voices.

Participants are invited to take part in a 30-day challenge. Designed to enhance knowledge and capacity around equity issues such as unconscious bias, social inclusion, and privilege; each challenge should take just a few minutes and has three components: learnreflect, and practice.

  • Learn – A short video or article on a specific topic related to equity; topics range from empathy to teen mental health to unpacking white privilege

  • Reflect – Questions to guide your thinking during and after the learning

  • Practice – A small actionable item to bring into your practice

The campaign focuses on community engagement, awareness raising and creating a shared understanding of issues and is set up to stimulate dialogue. A key challenge is being able to work through any discomfort on a personal level and with others through honest reflection and conversation that may bring differing perspectives. Ultimately the campaign encourages opportunity to shift collective awareness, culture and will. By embedding experiences in the community, we can all take ownership.

Wellbeing Waterloo Region has also created a Prompt for Discussion on Inequities Emerging During the COVID-19 Pandemic highlighting current research and articles that emphasizes how inequities have been amplified by the crisis across a number of themes including race and health outcomes, Indigenous realities and mental health and addictions.

The region is committed to working together differently across networks to address systemic issues such as barriers to equity, inclusion and wellbeing. When everyone is engaged and working on solutions together, with a unified understanding, true change can happen.

Learn More: 

Cities Reducing Poverty, Community Change, Racial Equity

Elle Richards

By Elle Richards

Elle has joined the Vibrant Communities team as Manager of Cities, Cities Reducing Poverty. Her experience spans corporate, academic, health and community environments, and working on national, regional and local programs of work, both strategically and operationally. In recent years, Elle has focused her work around issues of food security, poverty and inequalities in health.

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