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Community grant helps centre for young immigrants stay open during COVID-19

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Désiré Kiana says he’s lost track of how many countries are represented by the young immigrants who frequent the Francophone Association of Brooks, Alberta.
 
“Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo,” he begins, “Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Syria, Yemen, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador…” he laughs. “It’s very multicultural!”
 
Kiana is the Program Director at the association, which works with youth aged five to 24.
 
Students standing at a whiteboard.The association is a community hub for young new Canadians in Brooks, Alberta, hosting programs that run the gamut from homework help and reading groups to soccer, basketball and volleyball tournaments. Kiana says its role is to support young people with their integration into Canada. There’s also a focus on connecting them with their community through activities like volunteering.
 
And it’s not limited to French-speaking youth; the organization has the ability to translate 10 different languages.
 
Brooks, Alberta is home to the JBS beef-processing plant, which employs more than 2,600 people in the community. In May, it became the site of one of Canada’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks when 650 employees tested positive for the disease.
 
Now, the Francophone Association of Brooks is working hard to continue programming amidst the pandemic. Staying open means doing temperature screenings, physical distancing, and frequent cleaning of surfaces, including bathrooms and the three vans they use to transport participants to and from activities.
 
The association didn’t have enough staff to take on the extra work, so when Kiana heard about the Government of Canada’s Emergency Support for Community Organizations granting program, he sent an application to the Canadian Red Cross, one of three organizations administering the funds.
 
He says with the grant they received, he’s been able to hire on two additional staffers to help with the temperature screenings and frequent cleanings, and to bring in a professional cleaning service.
 
“It was a huge relief to receive this funding,” he says. “Without it, we would’ve been in a really tight spot.”
 
If your organization is a non-profit that delivers services to those who are vulnerable to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19, there’s still time to apply for funding. Please visit redcross.ca/communityorganizations to learn more. The deadline is July 31.


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