By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 6, 2024.
Two local non-profit organizations are among the 260 benefiting from the Community Initiatives Program grant provided by the government of Alberta across the province.
In a recent press conference held in Calgary, Minister of Arts, Culture and Status of Women, Tanya Fir announced the government was distributing $9.9 million in grants to non-profit organizations across the province and said from Peace River to Lethbridge, successful recipients are helping to create opportunities for Albertans to get involved in causes they believe in, as well as facilitate social, recreational and cultural programs that enrich our communities.
“Non-profit organizations deliver programming that make our communities brighter and more meaningful places to live, work and play. They help make a difference in our lives allowing us to participate in sport, recreation, cultural programs and activities, they also work to address important causes and encourage us all to get involved,” said Fir.
One such organization is the Oldman Watershed Council, which received $25,000 through the CIP grant and executive director Shannon Frank told the Herald Monday, thanks to the funding received they were able to purchase a used truck.
“We needed a truck so we could do our field work. We do a lot of land restoration projects and been working a lot outside in the fields,” said Frank.
Â She said they used to rent a truck to work during their field season and when they “crunched the numbers” realized buying a used truck was a cheaper solution in the long run.
Â “It was a lot easier as well for us to manage our time and resources with our own vehicle. We also had a grant from the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta for another $10,000 so, with the two grants we were able to purchase a used truck,” said Frank.
She said they purchased it right away because it’s important for them to be able to access their field sites which happens pretty much on a daily basis.
“During the field season from about May to the end of October, we plant a lot of willows along stream banks in public land, mountains – along Dutch Creek we planted quite a few,” said Frank.
Â She said working with their partners they also do a lot of plantings with farmers, ranchers and First Nations municipalities.
Â “We also take water quality samples and look at the health of the creeks and the rivers, we also help to restore things like wetlands and grasslands all across the watershed,” said Frank.
Â She said she was thankful MLA for East Lethbridge Nathan Neudorf and MLA for Lethbridge West Shannon Phillips provided them with letters of support for the grant application.
Â “We feel that without those we probably wouldn’t have received the grant,” said Frank.
Another local non-profit organization that is benefiting from the CIP grant is the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. That organization received $51,110 and executive director Su Ying Strang told the Herald Monday they will be able to continue offering outreach programming for another year thanks to it.
“We’re looking to expand our outreach programming. We have a ton of public programs that we offer to anyone throughout the year, however, we’re looking to create tailored programs that respond to identify barriers that certain community groups are facing to accessing our programming,” said Strang.
She explained the idea stems from research done by a resident artist that was hired last year who looked into and developed outreach programming for newcomers and refugees, to gain better access to the gallery and understand what barriers they were facing to participation in the gallery.
“We’re reaching out to specific organizations for partner programs that are directed towards audience groups, audience segments that we have identified as underserved by the gallery, they’re not coming to the gallery as often and so how can we reduce some of those barriers and make the space more accessible to them,” said Strang.
Â She said the grant allows them to have a focused staff person to work on the research and development of these programs, and to build the partnerships with various organizations across the city.
“This is in line with where a couple of our big strategic priorities for the gallery are, having accessible and inclusive community engagement and a robust diversity engaged audience. We know that Lethbridge is growing, and we want to be able to meet the needs of new community members across the city,” said Strang.