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University of Waterloo Student Receives Lincoln M. Alexander Award
University of Waterloo student Fiqir Worku received the Lincoln M. Alexander Award from the Government of Ontario for her work in establishing Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE), a student-run service to address racism and xenophobia on campus.
The creation of RAISE started with Worku and previous executive members of UW Black Association for Student Expression (BASE), who saw gaps that needed to be addressed in providing support for black students on campus.
“Students would come to us with unsettling stories of their racist experiences on campus with no one to talk to but us [BASE] executives — however, we ourselves were going through the same traumas,” said Worku. “The effects of racism have some serious implications to one’s mental health as well.”
As a student in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Worku knew the negative psychological and physiological effects that a student facing racism in their daily lives can experience.
Feds thirteenth student-run service, RAISE was launched this term and has been in the works for over a year. RAISE aims to address racism on campus by developing a formal report system to confront racism, provide peer-to-peer support and organize social events to invite students to be a part of cultivating an uplifting and united community.
“Most other universities have a space dedicated for these concerns: U of T’s Anti-racism & Cultural Diversity Office, Western’s Ethnocultural Support Services, and Ryerson’s Racialized Students’ collective, just to name a few,” she added. “So what makes Waterloo any different?”
The Lincoln M. Alexander Award is presented each year to three young people who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in promoting positive social change. It is named after Lincoln M. Alexander, the first black Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the first black Member of Parliament in the House of Commons and the first black federal cabinet minister.
“I feel honoured to have been nominated and awarded the Lincoln M. Alexander Award,” said Fiqir. “Lincoln M. Alexander left such an incredible legacy; he left some pretty big shoes to fill!”
She also added that she could not have done it without the support from the Waterloo community.
“Clubs, individuals and faculty alike would reach out to see if they could be of assistance which was incredible to see — all of us gathered around a cause that will leave the University of Waterloo in a better place than when we started.”