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Edmonton anti-racism program spreads $1.2M among several organizations

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The City of Edmonton has equipped five organizations with nearly $1.2 million to do anti-racism work.

The money – being distributed through the city's Anti-racism Community Safety Funding (ARCSF) Program – will be used in the areas of community justice, mental health, employment and social participation.

For example, the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council (ACCEC) – which was one of three organizations to receive $250,000 – will inject the funds into its Women and Gender Based Violence Prevention Program. Among the services the program provides to Black women and children is help with emergency protection orders, relocation and housing, trauma-informed care, and employability and skills development.

The Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association also received $250,000, which will be used to fill a gap in its own services, executive director Giri Puligandla said on Wednesday at a celebratory event.

"We're getting a lot of calls from Black Muslim women who are experiencing acts of hate and we don't know what to do," Puligandla recalled his staff telling him shortly after he took on the leadership role. "We have assessments and protocols for family violence, for suicide, for all these other crises, we don't have anything for that.

"So this is a really important step for us to be able to address the mental health needs of people calling our crisis line because of hate and racism."

The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers was the third organization to receive $250,000. The money will be put toward its Rainbow Home, which provides a safe and welcoming space for LGBTQ2IA+ newcomers.

The Alberta Workers Association for Research and Education was awarded $246,000, with which it plans to aid and produce education about the struggles faced by undocumented families.

And the remaining $178,000 of the ARCSF program was awarded to the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, whose plan is to work with grassroots organizations on cultural programming in neighbourhoods.

"These are the organizations that have a long history of doing some good work in the city and they will partner with other community organizations together, bring communities together, and really talk about why it is in everybody's interest to have an Edmonton for all of us. An Edmonton that embraces who we are," Edmonton mayor Amarjeet Sohi said on Wednesday.

That the organizations and city officials celebrated on Wednesday, International Women's Day, was not a coincidence. All of the service providers who attended the event acknowledged the intersection of discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality and more.

"I don't believe that one particular stream of funding or grant will fix [racism], but I do believe that this sets a precedent of the importance of valuing and prioritizing women in our community and all women by extension," ACCEC president and CEO Dunia Nur told CTV News Edmonton.

"Because I believe if you support the most marginalized and the most excluded equity-seeking communities, by extension you have protected and supported all women."

The funding handed out totals $1.174 million.

The ARCSF program was announced in late 2022 and solicited applications ranging in scope from $150,000 to $250,000. Fifty-five applications were made.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matt Marshall 

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