Edmonton groups will receive $1.2 million to fight racism and promote a safer city
Five Edmonton groups are to receive a portion of a $1.174 million fund to work on projects aimed at curbing racism and creating a safer city.
The City Council’s Community and Public Services Committee approved the city’s anti-racism security fund at a meeting on Tuesday. The council as a whole is being asked to approve the grants later this month.
count. Keren Tang said the initiative gives nonprofit organizations tools to fight racial discrimination.
“This pillar of work is to say, ‘How can we empower racialized communities to address issues of community safety and well-being on the ground through community work?'”
The fund will each provide $250,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Edmonton Region, the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council and the Edmonton Mennonite Center for Newcomers.
The Alberta Workers Association receives $246,000 for a project to address mental health and social needs of non-immigrants.
“The project aims to raise awareness in Edmonton of the realities facing undocumented families and to combat negative stereotypes that contribute to their fear and anxiety,” the city report said.
The CMHA plans to use the grant to train 911 responders to support people calling in crises and suffering from racial hatred and abuse.
Giri Puligandla, executive director of the CMHA’s Edmonton region, said the fund is helping the city move forward.
“This is all important, groundbreaking and innovative work,” Puligandla told the committee on Tuesday. “Work that is critical to making the city more comfortable and supportive for all of us.”
The Edmonton Mennonite Center for Newcomers will develop programs for LGBTQ+ newcomers who face homophobia and transphobia, which raises concerns about their safety, the report said.
Building cultural bridges
The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues will receive $178,000 to work with Black, Indigenous and Colored (BIPOC) groups on innovative ways to bring people together.
EFCL chief executive Laura Cunningham-Shpeley said eight leagues are interested in creating programs involving arts, theater and music to build relationships between cultures.
“We hope to bring neighbors together to share these experiences with people who may be new to the community league structure,” she said.
Last year, EFCL helped implement a pilot project called Safe Walk for Muslim Women.
Inspired by this, the South Clareview Community League has created a weekly program for Muslim women and their children to share cultural practices.
Progress is slow
The grants fall under the city’s anti-racism strategy – one of the first initiatives approved by the council at its October 2021 election.
The push to develop a strategy came after a spate of attacks on Muslim women and a public hearing on policing spurred by anti-racism protests across North America.
Dunia Nur, founder and president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, had been campaigning for a strategy in the city for a number of years.
She said the current council and mayor promise things will move forward.
“I think there are people who are ready and really care,” she said. “We can do better. Progress is slow.”
The $1.174 million Anti-Racism Community Security Fund is separate from the city’s Anti-Racism Grants, which began in 2021 and award smaller amounts — ranging from $3,000 to $25,000 — to community groups.