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Concerns over lack of candidate diversity in upcoming municipal election

In 2016, there were 100,025 individuals in Waterloo Region who identified themselves as a visible minority
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Questions are being raised about a lack of diversity among local candidates in the upcoming municipal election.

Currently, only one of our 58 elected councillors identifies as a visible minority. 

That number may seem strange, especially as 1 in 5 people in Waterloo Region identified as a visible minority in 2016 according to a WR Census. 

Fauzia Mazhar is running to be a Regional Councillor in Kitchener.

She tells Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS that her city is doing something right - as nearly 25 per cent of candidates are visible minorities, including herself.

"There is one single visible minority group that was dominant in Kitchener when you look at the candidates, and that's the South Asian group. I think Kitchener has done a few things that other municipalities might be able to learn from - one is that there are a lot of cultural events at Kitchener City Hall, which connects people with the municipal governments. We also have things like Compass Kitchener, which does a lot of work trying to engage visible minorities with the political process."

Mazhar says there are still some barriers that prevent visible minorities from running in municipal elections.

"I've heard that some of the issues for newer Canadians are a lack of understanding of the political process in general, and more specifically not knowing what role municipal governments play in our day-to-day lives. There can also be difficulties with language, and campaigns are quite expensive and require a significant investment of time. There's also the fear that they will not be seen as a legitimate candidate."

You can listen to the full interview by clicking here. 

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