Canadian organizations receive $15 million through federal government’s anti-racism program

WOC in Tech

Eighty-five Canadian businesses and organizations are receiving a cumulative $15 million from the federal government through its new Anti-Racism Action Program, which is aimed at combating systemic racism and discrimination in Canada.

“Racism, especially systemic racism, undermines our economic potentials, our social cohesion, our cultural vitality, and more importantly, our core values.”

The program, which was first announced in June 2019, provides funding to projects that help address barriers to employment, justice and social participation among Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, and religious minorities.

To be eligible, projects must reduce barriers to hiring, leadership training, and workplace skills training, promote interventions for youth and encourage positive relationships between communities and the criminal justice system, or promote participation in community sport, arts, and culture.

“Too many Canadians continue to face racism, discrimination, and inequality every day,” said Adam van Koeverden, parliamentary secretary to the minister of diversity and inclusion and youth. “The support provided through the Anti-Racism Action Program will help community-based organizations implement projects that confront racism and discrimination, promote intercultural and interfaith understanding, and foster equitable opportunities to participate fully in Canadian society.”

One organization receiving funding from the program includes the Black Business Initiative (BBI). BBI focuses on growing a stronger Black presence in Nova Scotia’s business community; acting as a catalyst for job creation, equitable participation and advancing the economic prosperity of Nova Scotia.

In 1996, the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia set up the BBI to address the unique needs confronting the Black business community in Nova Scotia. BBI has received $151,000 from the government’s Anti-Racism Action Program for its project to address barriers to employment for the African Nova Scotian community.

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Concordia University is receiving $140,000 to create a task force on online antisemitism. The Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies will produce recommendations to help major social media and tech companies make changes to their policies and develop new tech solutions to combat antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and distortion online.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is also receiving $125,000 to create a hackathon to end online Islamophobia. The National Council of Canadian Muslims will carry out a weekend-long hackathon bringing together 50 developers who are leaders in the tech industry to develop innovative apps to combat online hate.

Connecture Canada received $143,000 to conduct research on employers who are implementing employment equity and an awareness campaign among racialized individuals to make them aware of the barriers to hiring.

“Racism, especially systemic racism, undermines our economic potentials, our social cohesion, our cultural vitality, and more importantly, our core values,” said Fo Niemi, secretary-treasurer of the Institute for Research and Education on Race Relations, which received $225,000 to create a needs assessment survey for victims of racial profiling.

“Strong leadership from our federal government with adequate resources to combat racism will give us the tools and the faith to move forward together and continue the task of nation-building,” Niemi added.

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A number of public and private initiatives have emerged from the business and tech ecosystem in recent months focused on combating systemic racism in Canada. Toronto-based Crescendo recently created a coalition of several North American tech companies that are looking to directly address and tackle issues surrounding racism.

In June, senior leaders in Canada’s tech and innovation sectors launched the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR). The coalition’s mandate is to combat systemic racism in the innovation economy and “create pathways” for Black people, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour.

The Black Professionals in Tech Network, a network for young Black professionals in tech and business, also launched an action plan aimed to support Black professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent report from Prospect reveals that despite an increase in funding and public discourse on racism in Canada, the country has taken a big step back in terms of supporting underrepresented workers. The report found that underrepresented workers at Canadian startups are significantly overrepresented in the pool of talent left unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image source pxfuel.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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