By Camille Aubin

Communities throughout the province will have increased skills for addressing racism and discrimination and improving confidence in their intercultural relationship with more than 190 new projects that have received support through the B.C. Multiculturalism Grants program.

“Racism is pervasive, and it reaches into every corner of our province. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse,” said Rachna Singh, parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives, in a recent press release. “That’s why these grants prioritize projects addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism. These grants will not only help organizations across the province to address systemic racism, but also provide learning opportunities to foster better understanding and encourage intercultural conversation in B.C. communities.”

The Multicultural Grants Program’s funding for 2020-21 was increased fourfold to more than $1.2 million, meaning more anti-racism projects will be implemented. These recent grants have been given priority to tackling racism against Indigenous peoples, Asian peoples, and Black people. The program seeks to provide funding for projects that aim to build intercultural interaction, trust and understanding, or to challenge racism, hate, and systemic barriers.

Picking Up My Hoops at the Edgewater Elementary School (EES), featured in the supplement to the April 1 edition of the Pioneer, is one of the numerous projects selected by B.C. to receive a grant of $10,000.

“We are all very pleased with being awarded the grant from Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism. We understand that they had over 150 very worthwhile applications this year, so we are fortunate that they found value in our application/project,” said Aboriginal education support worker Debra Murray.

During this project, Indigenous students learn Hoop Dance while anti-Indigenous racism lessons are taught across two elementary schools, EES and J.A. Laird, for all students and staff. The project intends to give participants tools to reflect on what systemic racism looks like while promoting cultural identity in educational systems.

“Picking Up My Hoops and this grant will assist us with the dance workshops, anti-Indigenous racism (AIR) workshops and performances we have planned,” explained Murray.