As part of government efforts to address racism, Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda unveiled details of a new Anti-Racism Community Grant Program on July 3 at the Native Friendship Centre in Slave Lake.
The grants are to help communities combat racial discrimination, foster acceptance and promote diversity and inclusion.
Miranda said the government had invested two million dollars into funding for anti-racism initiatives within the ministry of culture and tourism.
“Quite frankly, the colour of your skin should not determine your ability to succeed in this country or province,” he said.
Miranda explained that the $2 million would be distributed by grants up to $25,000 that could be matched by non-profit groups. He said the other part is that there are organizations that don’t have any funding at the moment, so the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is making grants up to $5,000 available to kick-start the work they are doing.
“One of Alberta’s greatest strengths is its diversity, and our government is committed to making life better for all Albertans by working to combat racism,” said Miranda. “Across Alberta, many community organizations are doing great work in taking action against racism and we want to help them do more.”
The grant will be divided into two streams: general community stream and stream directed at supporting anti-racism projects and initiatives that affect Alberta’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples.
“We need to continually combat racism, ignorance and fear and take steps to understand one another better,” said Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee.
Larivee explained how it is particularly important in Lesser Slave Lake, because there are three Metis Settlements and 12 First Nation Settlements that have been in the region for untold generations; Lesser Slave Lake also has many new Canadians from around the world.
“This is a beautiful country with many opportunities,” said Larivee, “but we all know those opportunities aren’t the same for everyone and that is not okay.”
Larivee said she thinks it’s fitting that the Native Friendship Centre was chosen for the big announcement.
“The Native Friendship Centre is a centre started by community members and I think this organization knows about challenges, inequalities, and about the fact that life is unfair, but its right there in the name; friendship is the key to making life better for those who need it most.”
Barb Courtorielle, the Executive Director of the Friendship Centre, said she was very glad it was chosen for the announcement.
“We face racism quite a bit at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre,” she said. “We work with the homeless quite a bit, and they are about 98 per cent Aboriginal, and so we deal with racism constantly, and so we are here for them we support them the best we can.”
Courtorielle said there are also children facing racism in schools.
“It has been there since I was in school and it’s still there, so we need to teach schools about racism, My granddaughter graduated an moved to the city, and we had to go get her and bring her back because of racism.”
Courtorielle said she is glad something is now being done to help.
Friendship Centre Executive Director Barb Courtorielle makes some remarks at the racism funding announcement. On the right is Culture & Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda. Elder Mary Brown is seated.