Alberta government bolsters hate crime program

Premier Jason Kenney announced that funding for Alberta’s security infrastructure program has been increased from $2 million to $5 million per year

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The Alberta government is investing additional funds in a program launched last year to protect places of worship and other vulnerable community organizations from hate crimes and vandalism.

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On Sunday, Premier Jason Kenney announced that funding for Alberta’s security infrastructure program has been increased from $2 million to $5 million per year. The program provides grants to religious and ethnic organizations that are at risk of being the target of hate-motivated attacks, including places of worship, non-profit organizations and registered charities. Funding from the grant will help organizations upgrade facility infrastructure and technology with new security and surveillance systems, as well as staff education and training.

Since the program launched last summer, the government has approved 110 applications for funding. With this additional investment, Kenney said he expects the program can help hundreds more vulnerable faith-based and community institutions across the province, and potentially thousands over the long term.

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“Public safety is a public responsibility and we have a special responsibility to keep vulnerable communities who are targeted by hate-inspired violence safe,” said Kenney of the Calgary Vietnamese Alliance Church in Forest. Lawn, which was the subject of an intentionally- set fire to last July.

Calgary Fire toppled and investigated a fire at the Calgary Vietnamese Alliance Church on Forego Ave. SE at Calgary on Sunday, July 4, 2021. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Several Christian churches were burnt down last summer following discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools. Kenney said at least a dozen places of worship in Alberta were targeted, including a centenary catholic church of Morinville and the Vietnamese Alliance Church of Calgary.

“Some people with hatred in their hearts tried to burn down this church and they caused tremendous damage, hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage,” Kenney said, calling the act “a particularly vile expression. of anti-Christian bigotry”. .”

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Police are still looking for a person of interest in connection with the fire. While no one was inside when the fire tore through the building, the damage was extensive and Thai Nguyen, the church’s pastor, said restoration efforts were still ongoing.

“The flames entered through the window and destroyed almost everything in the sanctuary. We have fixed a lot to be able to come back – we have spent almost $500,000 on fundraising – but there is still a lot to do,” he said.

“The protections these grants provide can make a real difference in churches and local groups like ours, who come together for worship and to serve our communities.”

Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro was on hand to announce increased support for Albertans targeted by hate crimes at the Calgary Vietnamese Alliance Church in Calgary on Sunday, March 13, 2022.
Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro was on hand to announce increased support for Albertans targeted by hate crimes at the Calgary Vietnamese Alliance Church in Calgary on Sunday, March 13, 2022. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Over the past few weeks, police in Alberta have investigated several hate crimes, including a man who charged with allegedly threatening a Muslim woman outside a mosque in Edmonton.

The UCP government plans to launch a review soon into the increase in apparent hate crimes against vulnerable women. The review will work alongside police departments to identify common patterns and make recommendations on how best to prevent such crimes in the future.

“Our commitment is to stand up against intolerance to keep all Albertans safe and to vigorously prosecute hate crimes, and that remains as strong as ever,” said Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.

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Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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