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Anti-Racism Table advising P.E.I. government on ways to combat systemic racism

Since its establishment in late 2021, the Anti-Racism Table (ART) has worked to establish a roadmap to help fight systemic  racism in Canada’s smallest province.

Danté Bazard, co-founder of BIPOC USHR (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color United for Strength, Home, and Relationships) and ASDA (Atlantic Student Development Alliance), is one of the driving forces behind ART in his role as provincial anti-racism policy advisor.

Bazard, who works on anti-oppression training, advocacy, and community empowerment for ASDA, conducted a number of studies aimed at helping to solve systemic issues that affect historically disenfranchised populations prior to taking on his new role. He also contributed to articles on police investigations of sexually and physically violent crimes and climate injustice.

The creation of the table by the Dennis King government followed a petition from the Black Cultural Society calling on government to address systemic racism. Othe members of ART are Stephanie Arnold, chair, and Joshua Tarichia from BIPOC USHR; Wanda Lyall from the Native Council of P.E.I.; Nancy Peters Doyle from L’Nuey; Tamara Steele and Nnena Lucille Ukwa of the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I.; and general public members Linnell Edwards, Leticia LaRossa, Malak Nassar, Satyajit Sen, and Thea Xi Du.

Bazard says ART members meet with the premier and other governmental officials to advise government on ways to combat systemic racism in a number of areas, ranging from health and education to social housing, employment opportunities, and the justice system.

“We are at a pivotal time in history that calls on us to rethink what needs to be done to address injustices in our systems,” Bazard says. “Being an active member of the community is certainly one way we can drive change, but we need increased representation in executive positions to address the systemic needs of the increasingly diverse population in Prince Edward Island.”

While conceding there’s definitely a lot of work to do, Bezard says he feels “very optimistic” of where things are headed with the provincial government and in Prince Edward Island when it comes to combatting systemic racism.

One of the highest profile initiatives of the ART to date is the awarding of microgrants of up to $3,500 to 15 projects designed to address racism. Bazard says 2022 was the first year the grants were awarded and he’s pleased with both the interest and the scope of the projects.

His hope is the grants will be awarded on a yearly basis and will increase the maximum amount to $5,000. Bazard says he also hopes to provide a sharper focus  to the application process.

Bazard says a number of the projects are from artistic organizations and he hopes that will help ensure the voices of all Islanders are heard. While the projects may be relatively small, he’s confident they will have an impact.

Going forward, he says ART will continue to encourage government to take measures to help combat systemic racism  in all of its forms within Island society.

Here is a brief description of the projects funded by the microgrants:

P.E.I. Writers’ Guild:  $3,000 for the Pass The Mic project, which will amplify stories and voices of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities of Prince Edward Island.

The Guild: $2,500 for the Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration Concert, a free event for Indigenous Peoples Day featuring Indigenous artists such as the Silver Wolf Band from Newfoundland and Labrador as the main act, P.E.I. Indigenous singer-songwriter DeeDee Austin, and more. L’nuey will receive support to develop a day of education and celebration of indigenous artists.

Under The Spire Music Festival: $2,500 for Anti-Racism Education for Policy Development. The project will help the festival board and staff with anti-racism education and the development of an anti-racism/inclusion policy.

Winsloe Charlottetown Royals FC: $2,383.20 for celebrating the diversity of WCRFC. Twelve-foot-tall wing style flags representing each country within the club’s membership will be designed and be placed around the parking lot and clubhouse.

Kings Playhouse: $3,000 for an Arts and Social Justice Anti-Racism Residency at the Playhouse. The project will welcome a BIPOC artist of any discipline for a week-long residency at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown with studio/creative space and accommodation. The artist will immerse themselves in the community and offer educational or public workshops, plus a final exhibition/performance.

CMHA PEI (Canadian Mental Health Association): $3,000 for the P.E.I. Helping Tree Project. The CHMA anti-racism project involves the creation, translation, printing, promotion, and distribution of educational tools that help individuals and families learn about culturally appropriate resources and supports available in P.E.I., in their own language.

Early Childhood Development Association of P.E.I.: $3,000 for creating Brave Spaces in the Early Learning and Child Care Sector. A training session surrounding anti-bias/anti-racist hiring practices will be provided to the directors and supervisors of licensed childcare centres on the Island. Customized anti-racism training will be offered to ECDA directors and staff.

BIPOC USHR: $3,000 for Feeding Our Souls, a decolonial nutrition education program. The project is designed to create awareness of our living relationship with food, a crucial component of health, but one sometimes lost in the legacy of colonization.

The River Clyde Pageant: $3,000 for creating safer, more inclusive spaces within the River Clyde Pageant. The funding will support the delivery of diversity, equity, and inclusion training for the production team and community, through a partnership with Evelyn Bradley of Beyond the Brim Consulting.

Muslim Society of P.E.I.: $3,000 for a P.E.I. anti-Islamophobia campaign. The Muslim Society of P.E.I. will launch a social media campaign where local talent will create an educational video that promotes inclusivity on the island, helps fight Islamophobia, and educates islanders about common misconceptions about their Muslim neighbours.

Hassaan Abbasi: $850 for continuation of the BIPOC Men’s Group, whose primary purpose is to create a comfortable and open space for men to come and discuss their experiences and create connections.

King Kxndi (Kendi Tarichia): $1,500 for Spoken Word Night. Funding will support the creation of a space for poets and speakers to talk about their lived experiences as racialized people in Charlottetown. Spoken word has been a long-time tool of resistance, especially for Black people.

Sonjel Vreeland: $1,500 for Matthew Cuthbert Speaks, a novel that retells Anne of Green Gables from Cuthbert’s point of view. It will explore themes such as land ownership, relations between indigenous people and settlers, and relations between Prince Edward Island’s different cultural, racial, and religious groups.

Chanel Briggs: $1,500 for a BIPOC Creative Anthology. The project is a book uplifting and analyzing the experiences of BIPOC Islanders through their own words. Mi’kmaq, Black, and Acadian historians and artists will share their wisdom, knowledge, and expertise.

Jana Wong: $1,000 for Stick Together in a Multicultural World, a stickers/postcards campaign designed to raise awareness of different people from different nationalities.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker has been a journalist in PEI for over 30 years. After a career working for both PEI's daily newspapers, covering everything from the provincial legislature to hockey games, he has been a full-time freelance writer since 1997. Andy has been editor of the Island Farmer, a biweekly publication which covers the agriculture scene, since 2000. He and his wife, Angela, have four adult children and they reside in Cornwall.

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