USJE Community Investment Initiative awards $100,000 in grants to community groups across Canada

USJE has selected five great community projects from across the country to receive a total of $100,000 in Community Investment Initiative grants this year. There were more funds available this year due to the COVID pandemic, which restricted community activities in the past couple of years.

USJE has given Prison Fellowship Canada (PFC) $15,000 to significantly expand their national Bridgecare program in Quebec, based on an application from member Elizabeth McGregor of Local 00003 – Collins Bay Penitentiary. The money will be used to provide 15 people with a year-long program of supports upon release from prison to help them reintegrate into our communities. This work is important because more than 95 percent of all offenders will be released one day. Bridgecare, which is one of PFC’s core programs, matches these former offenders with PFC-trained volunteers who provide mentorship, practical assistance and mental health support in the critical months after a person is released from an institution.

Turning Leaf Community Support Services in Winnipeg is using their $20,000 USJE grant to purchase a truck for a new home-moving business that will be added to their bed-bug heat treatment service. Community CSC–PBC (West) RVP Jeff Sandelli submitted an application to support their work. The business will be part of Turning Leaf’s Social Enterprise Department Program, which battles poverty and gives mental health support for people on social assistance by hiring and training of them to do part-time work. It will also give Winnipeg their first combined service of house moving and bed-bug treatment.

By awarding Children North ECIP (Early Childhood Intervention Program) $25,000, USJE has enabled them to purchase a bus to bring children and their families to their medical appointments and other programs in the remote region around La Ronge in northern Saskatchewan. The tri-community of La Ronge, Air Ronge & Lac La Ronge Indian Band have at-risk populations that participate in Children North’s family-centered and home-based childhood intervention for families. This program includes families who have children with special or specific needs, many of whom have been struggling with no transportation for a long time. A big thank you to Local 40059 Prince Albert RCMP President Kristy McDougall for submitting this application for funding.

USJE kicked off Le Parados’s fundraising drive for second-stage housing for women and children who are transitioning out of their shelter in the Montreal borough of Lachine with a grant of $10,000. This housing will give women and children who have left violent situations with ongoing support in a crucial intermediate step between the shelter and permanent housing. This project was championed by Andréanne Samson, RVP for CSC Community, PBC, RCMP, Justice and PPSC in Quebec.

USJE has also granted $30,000 to the Town of Maple Creek, near the Cypress Hills in southwestern Saskatchewan, to replace their community swimming pool, which has aged out. The town and communities surrounding it, including Nekaneet First Nation and three Hutterite colonies, are isolated and there are few sources of leisure in the area. The Maple Creek Swimming Pool Fundraising Committee, which has been raising money, and Kara Bye of Local 40150 Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge sent us an application to contribute to the pool, which will especially help the more vulnerable members of their community keep active and have fun.

The Union of Safety and Justice Employees Community Investment Initiative was created in 2019 with a mandate to invest in the communities where we live. Unions play an active role in confronting the social and economic inequities that impact the lives of workers and their families in Canada. One of the ways that USJE supports communities is by investing in local development projects that bring positive and lasting social change to neighbourhoods, which means a safer and stronger society.

If you know of a deserving community project that you would like USJE to consider supporting, applications for funding open every February. Sign up to the USJE newsletter and follow us on social media to get all our funding announcements.