The University of Waterloo is setting aside one hour a week specifically for “Black folx” to swim in the campus pool — so they can “build a better relationship with water.”
“The aim,” the university says in the activity’s description, “is to get more Black Folx into a space where they haven’t always been welcomed.”
Those interested in taking lessons “will be taught by experienced black swimmers/instructors.”
UW, which includes a Native land acknowledgment on its main website, is a Canadian public university.
And that’s not all, as reported by True North: UW also offers specific swim times for transgender, non-binary, and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, as well as identity-exclusive workout and rock climbing opportunities (pictured).
The “Trans, Non-Binary, & 2SLGBTQ+” swim time notes that “if you are not trans or non-binary, or participating with a someone who is, please respect this space and come at another time when space is open to all users.”
True North notes the U. Waterloo Department of Athletics and Recreation has “embraced” DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion — EDI in Canada) measures “including initiatives led by the Athletic Alliance who are focused on creating positive systemic changes through recognition, education towards and action against racism.”
The department’s EDI also supports awards “such as the new Black or Indigenous Heritage Student-Athlete Bursary which provides additional financial support to student-athletes.”
In response to a True North query about the identity-exclusive swims, a U. Waterloo spokesperson said there are “21 hours of open recreational swimming that is offered to all members of our community each week.”
The spokesperson also claimed the black-only swims will save lives: “Offering a safe space for the community to learn to swim will help to reduce not only the stigma that ‘Black people can’t swim,’ but also, help to reduce the drowning rates among this population …”
IMAGES: Elie Cantin-Nantel/X; U. Waterloo