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Provincial grants to benefit North Shore Iranian community

This week, the B.C. government announced $300,000 through the B.C. multiculturalism and anti-racism grants program
Canadian Iranian Foundation president and founder (front row, far right) Nassreen Filsoof with 2019 student scholarship recipients. | Canadian Iranian Foundation

Programs that support the North Shore’s Iranian community are set to receive a boost of funding from the province.

On Wednesday, the provincial government announced the distribution of nearly $300,000 in grant money through the B.C. multiculturalism and anti-racism grants program, which will go to 60 community-based organizations.

“The multiculturalism and anti-racism grant program looks to support groups in communities across British Columbia who are raising awareness about equity diversity and are taking steps to address racism and really foster more understanding amongst communities right across the province,” said Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington and the parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives.

The Canadian Iranian Foundation was one of the grant recipients. Situated on the North Shore, the foundation has been active since 2005.

According to president and founder Nassreen Filsoof, the foundation has three main mandates: to assist new immigrants and help them learn about life in Canada, to provide scholarships and financial aid to students, and to assist in humanitarian causes with help from the Red Cross.

“We have been doing all the above and we are also celebrating our own Iranian cultures. For example, the [Persian] New Year which is Nowruz, we celebrate that every year,” Filsoof said. “And the raised funds will be going to scholarships.”

The foundation has been able to give over $270,000 in scholarships to students in Metro Vancouver over the past 18 years, he added.

The foundation’s outreach also extends outside of Canada. “Sometimes, [if] there is a need for our own country, Iran, then we’ll raise funds as well for that.” Filsoof said. “Especially now with what is going on in Iran.”

According to Elmore, the provincial government is taking additional steps to address anti-racism and to dismantle systematic racism, with the Anti-Racism Data Act and the anti-racism action plan, which will address how anti-racism is handled in schools.

“These are resources [and] toolkits to really give students, teachers and parents different curriculum and skills and tools to make sure that our classrooms are equipped to support students make sure that they’re not experiencing racism and to foster more understanding,” Elmore said.

The next step is to, “put in place legislation that’s going to be able to help and support moving forward in terms of how we reconcile with our history of colonization, and really take steps to dismantle systemic racism.”

“From the government perspective, B.C. is really taking the lead across Canada and internationally around how we address systemic racism.” she said.