The Alberta government released an anti-racism report Wednesday that includes establishing an council dedicated to combating the issue.
Education Minister David Eggen said the new Anti-Racism Advisory Council will guide how the province fights racism and will engage Albertans.
“It’ll advise on how we should remove systemic and language barriers, to using government programs and services, to educate and inform Albertans to prevent racism, to encourage greater acceptance of diversity, and to connect with law enforcement agencies and communities to support positive and responsive relationships,” Eggen said.
Eggen said the province is now accepting applications for positions on the 25 member council.
“The council will include Indigenous representation that reflects the unique nature of racism directed towards Indigenous peoples and consistent with our nation-to-nation relationship,” he said.
“We will consult with Indigenous leaders and organizations to determine the best ways to do this.”
The government will also start a $2 million anti-racism grant program to assist groups battling the issue.
“There will be two kinds of grants for organizations working to address the impact that racism has on Albertans, including one dedicated to groups lead by Indigenous peoples,” Eggen said.
In July 2017, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley appointed Eggen to lead a consultation on how to fight racism after the deadly mosque shooting in Quebec.
The report was initially due in the fall of 2017.
But Eggen said the government was consulting with hundreds of people, including community groups, to talk about racism, and focusing on youth to ensure they have the education to “overcome the ignorance that fosters racism in the first place.”
“I believe that racism is a product of ignorance and so education is the antidote,” he said.
After video was released of a B.C. woman yelling racist comments to a group of men at a Lethbridge restaurant in April, Calgary-Elbow MLA Greg Clark said the province was lagging on the anti-racism report and believed action from government could curb racism in Alberta.
“The premier asked the minister of education to undertake a review of anti-racism activities and actions the province could take about a year and a half ago. That report was due last fall,” he said.
“It just fell off the radar and we’ve heard nothing about it. So obviously there is action needed.”
The government also launched a web-based survey to gather information for its report.
Eggen said the government is also working on expanding mentorship programs outside of Calgary and Edmonton, creating a provincial hate crimes unit and making it easier for Albertans to access anti-racism resources.