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Anti-racism initiative looks to St. Paul as partner

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The Town of St. Paul has agreed to support an anti-racism initiative being spearheaded by the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus, in Camrose.

Organizers have identified St. Paul as a potential partner in the project, which will be applying for a grant to launch an anti-racism initiative. There would be no financial implications to the town to take part in the project.

“They may require a facility once or twice in order to conduct their public consultations,” said Town of St. Paul CAO Kim Heyman, as she brought the item before council at the Dec. 9 regular meeting. According to an email received by Heyman, the "Building Inclusive Communities in Rural Alberta” program has been funded by a Government of Alberta Anti-Racism Community Grant.

“At the heart of this project has been the development of an initial ‘community conversation’ town-hall type of event on the topic of cultural diversity in rural Alberta that is tailored specifically to the realities of rural life. We are now in the process of seeking additional Federal Government funding to launch a much more aggressive anti-racism initiative that we could roll out across rural Alberta and we have identified St. Paul as a potential partner,” reads the email. The proposed project would involve an initial research project where organizers would work with cultural and religious minorities living in the community “to get a better sense as to the obstacles they may face.”

“We would then develop and deliver a three-part interactive educational series, delivered as free public forums widely advertised to all citizens and held in the evenings,” reads the email, signed by Clark Banack, PhD. Adjunct Professor of Political Studies Senior Research Associate, Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities.

“We would also offer a full-day workshop to Community . . . that would highlight some of the ‘best practices’ to follow to reduce racism in rural communities as well as allow us to work collaboratively with you to develop a ‘community action plan’ that could guide future anti-racism initiatives in your community moving forward.

All events offered would be free of charge to those who attend.

“These are people that are skilled and educated in this manner,” said Heyman, speaking to council Monday night.

Council unanimously agreed to offer a letter of support to the program.

Provincial announcement

Projects such as the one being proposed to the town appear to be on the province’s radar.

Last week, the Government of Alberta announced it would be accepting applications for a new grant program designed to build greater cultural awareness and more inclusive communities.

The Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant revitalizes the Anti-Racism Community Grant to support a broader range of projects. Projects will focus on promoting cross-cultural understanding, celebrating diverse backgrounds and helping Albertans understand the impacts of discrimination,” reads a Dec. 10 media release.

The maximum funding amount per project under the new grant will be $25,000, on a matching basis. Non-profits can apply to either the multiculturalism and inclusion projects stream or the Indigenous projects stream. Projects can be stand-alone initiatives, new programming or resources for training and education, capacity building or enhancing cultural awareness, reads the release.

The first intake of the Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant closes Jan. 7, 2020.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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