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.
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.
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.
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.
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.