Ache Brasil performs at the 2018 Surrey Fusion Festival. The annual event is one of the recipients of federal multiculturalism funding announced on Sept. 6. (File photo: Ryan McLeod)

$3.5M boost for multicultural, anti-racism initiatives in B.C.

Federal funding will benefit 45 organizations across British Columbia

The federal government has announced $3.5 million in funding for multicultural and anti-racism programs across B.C.

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan was in Surrey on Sept. 6 to announce the funding, on behalf of Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez, at the Newton Cultural Centre.

In all, 45 organizations in B.C. will share the funding, including the Arts Council of Surrey, the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George, the Whistler Multicultural Network and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria.

Carol Girardi, president of the Arts Council of Surrey, said the organization is “grateful” for the “generous support of Surrey Fusion Festival.”

“Surrey Fusion Festival is British Columbia’s largest multicultural event,” Girardi added, “and is known as the ultimate celebration of food, music, culture, and the literary, performing and visual arts. Working in partnership with the City of Surrey, the Arts Council of Surrey is able to utilize this important funding to continue celebrating our creative diversity.”

The annual event is held every summer at Surrey’s Holland Park.

READ MORE: Surrey Fusion Festival by the numbers: Two days of music, food and more

SEE ALSO: K’NAAN will be ‘Wavin’ Flag’ at Surrey’s Fusion Festival

The non-profit Indus Media Foundation is to receive the most funding of any Surrey organization, with the government providing $366,000 for it’s “Duty, Honour and Izzat” project that highlights India’s First World War contributions.

The funding will be used to create a series of short films about the “little-known story” of Punjabi-Canadians’ contributions in the First World War.

A government release notes the project will “facilitate the development of partnerships with the heritage sector on creating inclusive programming, while seeing the films delivered across a spectrum of digital platforms that specifically engage children and youth from the South Asian community about their history and heritage.”

“Community workshops and opportunities for dialogue will also be organized to discuss issues of racism, discrimination, equity and media stereotyping,” the release adds.

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(A travelling ‘Duty, Honour and Izzat’ exhibit of India’s contributions to the First World War as featured at SFU’s Surrey campus in 2014. File photo)

Other Surrey groups to receive funding are the African Stages Association for its Africanada Storytelling Symposium ($6,797), the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Association for its project titled “An Indigenous Perspective of Racism in Surrey” ($26,800), and the Royal Academy of Bhangra Society is receiving $25,000 for its “Folk Lok Live: This is Punjab” project, which is also receiving $15,000 for the initiative from the provincial government.

Minister Sajjan said the federal government is “committed to promoting multiculturalism and celebrating the unique cultural diversity of British Columbia by investing in these important anti-racism projects.”

“It is through increasing the understanding of British Columbia’s diverse communities and their contributions in building our province and country that we can fight intolerance and discrimination. This funding will benefit many organizations, supporting them in the important work they carry out across the province building a more accepting British Columbia,” Sajjan added.

SEE ALSO: Surrey MLA announces $9.8 million for B.C. arts groups

READ MORE: Exhibit highlights India’s First World War contributions

This funding is provided through the Community Support, Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Initiatives program (CSMARI). The goal of the CSMARI is to “build an integrated, socially cohesive society by building bridges to promote intercultural understanding; to promote equal opportunity for individuals of all origins; and to promote citizenship, civic engagement and a healthy democracy,” a government release notes.

The program has several funding streams, including events, projects and a “community capacity building” component.

Events are eligible if they “foster intercultural or interfaith understanding; civic memory and pride; respect for a healthy democracy; and celebrations of a community’s history and culture.”

Projects that fall under consideration include anti-racism initiatives, and engagement projects that promote diversity and inclusion. The “Community Capacity Building” component provides funding for projects that “contribute to the recipient’s ability to promote diversity and inclusion” and help achieve one or more of the following objectives: strengthening governance and building partnerships (building the capacity of organizations, and promoting collaboration between service providers); e-capacity (building and strengthening the online and social media presence of eligible organizations); establishing an overall external communication strategy; and recruitment and training of volunteers.

In June 2019, the Government of Canada unveiled Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022 to “help advance the vision of fostering and promoting a more inclusive and equitable country for all Canadians.”

In the 2019 budget, $45 million was allocated to support the strategy.

Applications for new funding opportunities became available on September 3, 2019.



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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