Alberta government drops anti-racism focus of community grant

Similar shift as that occurred 2010-11 under then Minister Kenney, when multiculturalism program was reoriented towards integration among all groups with greater emphasis on antisemitism than other forms of racism or discrimination:

Some community organizations are breathing a sigh of relief after a popular anti-racism grant has been saved from provincial budget cuts.

The Alberta government announced on Monday that the Anti-Racism Community Grant will be offered under the new banner of the Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant program.

The new grant “revitalizes the Anti-Racism Community Grant to support a broader range of projects,” Ministry of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women spokesperson Danielle Murray said.

“By promoting understanding and appreciation of our Indigenous and multicultural society, we will reduce discrimination and create welcoming and inclusive communities so that all Albertans feel their culture is valued.”But the replacement is not quite apples to apples, said Irfan Chaudhry, director of MacEwan University’s office of human rights, diversity and equity, in an interview on CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active on Wednesday.

“I think it’s good to see that there still is funding available around these programs, so I think that’s really promising to see,” Chaudhry said, noting that the funding could be a boost for cultural awareness and harmony.

The coalescing of the specific anti-racism scope of the previous grant — which addressed more systemic issues — with the broader program, is a disappointment, Chaudhry said.

“What made it powerful is it addressed a specific issue. You’re naming racial discrimination as the issue that wants to be addressed from a provincial level — that’s fairly powerful.”

‘Smaller pot’

“Something like this kind of combines everything together and doesn’t really get at some of those critical issues as well,” Chaudhry said.

“And I think this pool of funding which includes multiculturalism, Indigenous programming and inclusion programming — which can address discrimination —  I think the pot’s a little bit smaller. So this is going to be a very competitive grant to get to begin with.”The government has earmarked $1.5 million for the grant program in 2019-20, Murray said, noting that the previous Anti-Racism Community Grant distributed similar funding of approximately $1.56 million in 2018-19.

After the provincial budget was released in October, questions swirled about the future of the anti-racism grant, which was thought to be axed.

Jean Claude Munyezamu, founder and executive director of Soccer Without Boundaries —one of the organizations who received funding from the previous grant — was worried the government was going to discontinue the grant completely.

“I thought it was a really bad idea,” said Munyezamu.

“Anyone who works with newcomers knows that [racism] is becoming worse and worse.”

Munyezamu said the decision to drop the word ‘racism’ from the name of the new grant will bring participants of his organization — which includes Canadian-born-and-raised families as well as newcomers — together.

“I think that this is the better wording,” Munyezamu said. “Sometimes when you tell people ‘racism’ people are afraid. However when you use the word ‘inclusion,’ or something else, then you can come to that word later, once you have the people together.”

The deadline for the Alberta government’s first intake of the Muliticulturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant Program is Jan. 7.

Community organizations that address racism will still be able to apply for projects under the new grant, Murray said.

Source: Alberta government drops anti-racism focus of community grant

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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