Meet the city’s new Indigenous Initiatives, Anti-Racism, Accessibility and Equity team

Posted On Tuesday January 18, 2022

The City of Waterloo has completed the hiring of its new Indigenous Initiatives, Anti-Racism, Accessibility and Equity team and is pleased to welcome these talented and well-experienced individuals.

The new additions are (listed alphabetically): Niran Akintunde (he/him), Anti-Racism & Social Justice Advocate; Brian Hill (he/him), Indigenous Initiatives Advocate; and Amy Ross (she/her), Accessibility Advocate.

The new team is led by Sanjay Govindaraj (he/him), who assumed his role as the Director – Indigenous Initiatives, Anti-Racism, Accessibility and Equity, in August 2021.

Mr. Govindaraj said members from the community were an integral part of all aspects of the hiring process, including:

  • developing the job descriptions,
  • identifying key screening questions,
  • reviewing and ranking all applications received,
  • selecting by consensus which candidates to shortlist for the interviews,
  • preparing the interview format and questions, and
  • actively participating in the interviews, and coming to a consensus for each hiring decision.

Niran Akintunde has a Bachelor of law degree from Nigeria with practice in with practice in Criminal Law and Human rights enforcement for over seven years in the common law Jurisdiction. He also completed his Master of Laws (LLM) in Restorative Justice from Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University.

More recently, Mr. Akintunde has been working with Community Justice Initiatives (CJI) as Service Coordinator for the Sulah project, which uses a Restorative Justice approach for hate incidents motivated by Racism/Islamophobia. He has also been supporting CJI with their internal EDI goals, training, coaching and supporting with mediation.

Initial priorities:

  • Creating meaningful relationships based on trust with the numerous equity deserving groups and members in the community to ensure their voices support the development of the city projects and plans
  • Supporting internal training, policy development, evaluation of programs/services/policies/practices to ensure they are welcoming to racialized population, and
  • Exploring how the city can respond to complaints and enforcement with a restorative justice lens.

Brian Hill is from the Oneida of the Thames First Nation and has been actively involved in the promotion and advancement of Urban Indigenous human rights for over 40 years.

He brings extensive experience building strategic partnerships through his work with City of London, United Way, Thames Valley District School Board, Children’s Aid Society and the London Police Service.

He is currently a Board and community member of the N’Amerind Friendship Centre in London as well as the President of the Board of Directors and first vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.

Initial priorities:

  • working closely with the Waterloo Region’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working group;
  • developing and maintaining relationships with local Indigenous communities, building on a foundation of trust, respect and transparency.

Amy Ross is a long-time City of Waterloo employee whose roles have included research & policy analysis, cultural planning & neighbourhood development strategic implementation/project management as well as being an active Staff Association Director.

Prior to her career with the city, Ms. Ross earned a Master of Public Service from the University of Waterloo, and completed the Core Community Leadership Development Program with Leadership Waterloo Region, served as an HR Coordinator for a disability focused organization, an AODA Consultant and coordinated the local activities of Special Olympics Kitchener-Waterloo. She has served as a community representative for both the Grand River Accessibility Advisory Committee & the Grand River Transit Specialized Services Advisory Committee.

Initial priorities:

  • supporting the corporation to meet AODA compliance
  • supporting the ongoing efforts of GRAAC –
  • engaging teams across the corporation to ensure programs/services/policies/practices are accessible and do not create additional barriers
  • building relationships with individuals and organizations in the disabled community to ensure their voices are included in the development of the city projects and plans
  • developing tools to share resources and information about the work of the team internally and externally




Media contact
Tony Iavarone
Director, Corporate Communications