Calling on the city to "build a safer and more inclusive city where discrimination, where racism, and bullying no longer exist," Mayor Gregor Robertson announced that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has earmarked nearly a million dollars to create a youth leadership program in Vancouver. The program will fuel the city's fight against racism, city officials said today.
"As our city grows and matures...we see a really strong sense against hate crimes, against discrimination, racism, and bullying, that it's something we need to rid our city of," Robertson said at a press conference to announce the new initiative.
The Vancouver School Board, the Park Board, and many community organizations worked together to develop the program, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said. CitizenU will groom future leaders, Dr. Alice Wong, Richmond MP, said.
CitizenU will recieve $905,000 over the next three years from federal multiculturalism grants.
More than 50 percent of Vancouver citizens speak a language other than English, Robertson said, adding that CitizenU will involve over 2,000 "diverse" young people, between 15 and 20 years old. The mayor estimated that over 4,000 people will be involved in the project in one way or another.
This is an "opportunity to work together to help further intercultural and interfaith understanding and to be active citizens," Wong said. "Canada's future depends on all of us working together."
"This is an important commitment we have at City Hall to deepening the strength in our diversity and ensuring that it crosses all ages and cultures," Robertson told the Vancouver Observer.
"Many other cities are dealing with damage control. And in Vancouver, we have a legacy of being ahead of that curve and being a much more inclusive and tolerant city," said Robertson. "We need to keep working on that, keep strengthening our commitment to it."
"I think it's a great initiative," said Tyler Young, 18. "it's just amazing. There's never a wrong time for it, right?"
"Especially since after the Olympics, you had everyone coming together with the spirit of the city and we just want to carry on that spirit of being united together," continued Colin Siu, 18, a student at UBC.
"And having this program pushed out, it's just making sure that all races are equal and just making sure that everyone is actually connected as a community," said Siu.