Submission to Canadian Race Relations Foundation
Re: Follow-up to 2014 Best Practice Award
In 2014, the Alberta Human Rights Commission (the Commission), in partnership with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), was honoured to receive a Best Practice Award for our Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) Initiative. These two organizations have worked together over many years supporting the work of municipalities and community members in reducing racism and discrimination and in building welcoming and inclusive communities. The Commission’s collaboration with the AUMA continues, as it actively participates, along with other government and community stakeholders, on the AUMA’s WIC Sharing Committee to help build sustainable, inclusive initiatives in Alberta.
Since receiving the award, the Commission has strengthened its support to communities to undertake local human rights initiatives that foster equality and reduce discrimination. Based on findings from a third party evaluation of our partnership work with the AUMA, combined with input from the AUMA and the community, the Commission developed two new grant streams to support communities in fostering equality and reducing discrimination. The first of these, the Community Inclusion grants, supports municipal efforts that build inclusive communities and advance their strategies associated with the principles of WIC or as a signatory to the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD). This program provides up to $10,000 per project for developing strategies, action plans, engagement activities or planning processes that move their WIC or CCMARD initiatives forward.
The second grant stream, Experience Human Rights grants, offers micro grants of up to $1,000 to non-profit organizations for community-based human rights activities or initiatives. These may include: raising awareness of emerging or existing human rights issues, increasing capacity to undertake human rights initiatives, providing Albertans the opportunity to acknowledge significant human rights matters, building collaborative relationships that lead to addressing human rights and diversity issues, or serving as a catalyst for change for future action.
The new grants were launched in 2015, and 34 grants were awarded (14 Community Inclusion grants and 20 Experience Human Rights grants). Initiatives are being undertaken in communities of all sizes across the province. While it is too soon to assess their outcomes and impact, these grants are enabling elected officials, government representatives and community members to make commitments and to take action towards build welcoming and inclusive communities, free of racism and discrimination.
The Commission is committed to working collaboratively with communities, community organizations, and partners, such as the AUMA, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, to strengthen our efforts in building stronger communities, where everyone feels a sense of belonging and is able to fully contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political life of their communities and our province. In 2016, this included leveraging the Commission’s partnerships with municipalities to help the CRRF host round table discussions and events in Calgary, Lethbridge and Red Deer (all CCMARD signatories).
It is clear that by sharing knowledge and expertise, and by working collaboratively, there are opportunities to make significant advances in countering racism and all forms of discrimination, and in building inclusive, welcoming and sustainable communities.