People can tell you what happens to them when racism rears its ugly head. The names they get called. The job interviews they don’t get. The day-to-day difficulties they endure in the community.
The government of Alberta is having none of it, and has decided to step up. Standing by and doing nothing in the face of racism is not an option, said Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan.
The province has committed to combat racism on the ground in Alberta communities through the establishment of anti-racism grants, with 33 organizations getting the first of those dollars available.
Millions have dollars have been committed for the fiscal year, with the next application deadline closing March 1.
“It’s all based on our report that we did last summer called ‘Taking action against racism’, Feehan told Jacob LeBlanc of CFWE-FM. The report came from province-wide consultations, asking people about the experience of racism in Alberta and what can be done about it.
One of the big action items that came from that consultation was the decision to create an anti-racism advisory council, which has 24 members who will look at a number of areas where the province can reduce racism from the government perspective.
The second major initiative is the Anti-Racism Community Grant Program. Community groups can apply for dollars for activities that helps “tackle this horrendous problem of racism,” said Feehan.
The minister thinks back to a letter written to an Indigenous family in St. Albert, with the writer telling their neighbours they didn’t want ‘their kind’ in the community. Such a letter was repeated recently.
“Those are the kinds of things we find completely unacceptable,” said Feehan. “Rather than sit back and go ‘tsk, tsk, that shouldn’t happen’ the province has decided to do something about it.”
It’s up to community groups to decide for themselves what issues are important and what activities can fight racism.
“Racism is a problem all over and it’s just never going to go away… but it doesn’t mean we have to be passive and receive it. We can do something about it. We can keep it to a minimum,” said the minister.
“We can make sure that the people who act in these completely terrible ways are getting a strong message from the rest of the community that we won’t put up with it. We think it’s unacceptable, and we intend to live a different life then they choose to live.”
For more information about these grants go to https://www.alberta.ca/anti-racism-community-grant-program.aspx