A patchwork quilt of projects that will bring communities together and help meet a diversity of needs in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
That’s how Williams Lake’s chief administrative officer Milo MacDonald described the announcement Wednesday that 32 projects were approved for funding from the Integrated Community Safety Initiative Grant Program.
During a presentation at the Pioneer Complex, Williams Lake Insp. Jeff Pelley said all 32 projects met one or all of the criteria to collaborate regionally on public safety issues, training and community capacity building to enhance front line response or to develop programs and services to better prevent and respond to crime.
“The applications were very competitive,” said Pelley who co-chairs the ICSI grant program with Vanessa Riplinger from the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre, noting of the 32 projects accepted for a total funding of $286,318, 18 of them will serve First Nations communities and the region while 14 will serve Williams Lake.
“It is estimated 25,196 people will be directly assisted because of the funding,” he added.
Aims of the projects range from more surveillance cameras and lighting installed in Williams Lake to three First Nations communities working in concert to build strength, connections and change by bringing youth together for workshops once a month in their communities and help them access services.
Tl’etinqox Government received three grants.
Band councillor Cecil Grinder said one of them will go toward putting on the Youth4Leaders Summit to celebrate and encourage young peoples’ achievements.
“Today our youth are living in different worlds,” Grinder said. “Some are living in the community and others away from the community.”
Soda Creek Indian Band health co-ordinator Gina Mortensen said the grant money they received will go to enhance the community relationship with First Nations policing.
“About two years ago we started a community safety program with five members of our community to work with First Nations policing,” Mortensen said, noting the grant will help fund the program’s activities.
Some of those projects will see some new positive signage, a possible baseball camp and a multicultural ethnic cuisine night, said Soda Creek social development co-ordinator Marian Phillips, adding the group has operated so far without any funding.
Youth for Christ received two grants — one will fund a summer soccer program and the other a drop-in program for girls, said Corwin Smid.
Women’s Contact Society’s Breaking the Silence Committee members Joan Sorley said their grant will help fund a second conference in Williams Lake tackling this issue of sexual violence against women, slated for October 2018.
“Our ultimate wish list is to have a sexual assault site where we can counsel people and help them,” Sorley said.
Congratulating the grant recipients, Clare Whelan-Sadike with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, thanked everyone for their input.
“The journey to this moment has been frustrating for some people, because things like this don’t happen quickly,” she said. “I think one of the things that has happened is that the community has built some community pieces together and part of the project is about building relationships.”
In June 2016, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General provided Williams Lake and the Cariboo Chilcotin with civil forfeiture grant funding in the amount of $500,000 to support the ICSI. From there a committee was formed and the decision was made to use some of the money for grants.
“Now the hard work begins,” Riplinger said. “We will be keeping track to hope we are making a difference.”