Fri | Nov 26, 2021

Black community programmes to get federal funding

Published:Saturday | April 24, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland holds a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland holds a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

OTTAWA:

Black community leaders have welcomed news of government’s decision to provide $200M to support a new black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund which will target community-based programmes and services.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland last week outlined the Liberal Government’s plan for a continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vision for rebuilding Canada’s battered economy, which included a significant investment of $200 million as a key component of the government’s committed response to the dramatic rise of anti-black racism in Canada and its ongoing effects.

Reacting to the announcement, Liban Abokor, a working group member of the Foundation for Black Communities (FFBC), said, “The Foundation for Black Communities has been advocating for the Federal Government to address the systematic underfunding of vital community-based programmes and services that Black Canadians rely on, we are thrilled to see this future-making commitment that puts black communities squarely in the driver seat of creating our own solutions when we need them, where we need them.”

Black Canadians currently make up 3.5% of the population and are projected to grow up to 5.6% by 2036, according to StatsCan. Despite this, black-led, black-serving organisations receive as little as $0.07 cents for every $100 granted by Canada’s leading philanthropic foundations.

In the budget document tabled in the House of Commons, the Government said that this budget proposes to provide $200 million in 2021-22 to Employment and Social Development Canada, to establish a new black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund. This fund would be led by black Canadians and would create a sustainable source of funding, including for black youth and social purpose organisations, and help combat anti-black racism and improve social and economic outcomes in black communities.

“While the pandemic has disrupted the lives of all Canadians, it has disproportionately impacted black communities, where the virus worsened and entrenched existing socioeconomic inequality,” said FFBC working group member Djaka Blais-Amare. She added “community-based programmes have been the lifeline for many black Canadians, today’s announcement in the budget will ensure that these programmes and organisations can continue their important work and not worry about survival due to a lack of proper and sustainable funding.”

GOOD TIMING

The news of this investment comes at a crucial moment for Canada’s black communities, as they battle with systemic anti-black racism while also trying to recover from the pandemic’s devastation.

Dr Joseph Smith, FFBC working group member, said, “Because of the combined impacts of the pandemic and long-standing inequality on black Canadians, each exacerbated by systemic anti-black racism, this investment to support black communities was essential.”

Looking forward, the Foundation for Black Communities is optimistic that the announcement in Budget 2021 will ensure that there is a clear and stable path to building a reliable and durable source of funding for black-led and black-serving non-profit and charitable community organisations.

“This investment will allow for the financial infrastructure to ensure black communities have long-term, self-directed and self-sustaining resources that can be utilised despite predictable changes in public sentiment or changes in government priorities or philanthropic attitudes,” adds Rebecca Darwent, an FFBC working group member.