By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The City of Toronto has announced the recipients of this year’s Youth Violence Prevention Grant which aims to address violent crimes in what is has identified as 23 priority communities.
Funding will be directed towards support programming in communities identified as Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIA), or revitalization sites, across Toronto. As of 2022, Toronto has designated 158 neighbourhoods as NIA.
The $2.7 million will be allocated to 13 local community organizations and 12 grassroots partners “for up to three years”, according to a City of Toronto press release.
One of the recipients is East York’s Eshkiniigjik Naandwechigegamig, Aabiish Gaa Binjibaaying (ENAGB) Indigenous Youth Agency, an organization that has been providing support to Indigenous youth since 2018.
The ENAGB program focuses on providing Indigenous residents aged 12 to 29 with “cultural and historical programming to increase knowledge of our Indigenous people” while also empowering them through employment and recreational opportunities.
“It allows us to guide our youth to independence,” said founder Cynthia Bell of what the funding means ENAGB.
City officials said that the communities receiving the grant were chosen based on a data-driven approach that identified incidents in those specific neighbourhoods.
Applications were assessed through a two-stage process that prioritized youth voices from the priority community zones.
Last year, ENAGB told Beach Metro Community News that the organization was founded with a goal of combatting “the hierarchical nature of Indigenous communities” by giving a voice to its youth.
“At some point, our youth will be able to walk with pride, have their own culture and they’ve claimed it already,” Bell told Beach Metro Community News in 2022. “They won’t need to heal anymore, because they know healthy choices, healthy lifestyle, healthy everything. That, eventually, is one of our biggest goals.”
Upon receiving their portion of the second annual Youth Violence Prevention Grant, ENAGB is expected to utilize the funds to expand programs and undertake community outreach.
It is currently unclear exactly how much funding ENAGB will be receiving, but a statement on the organization’s website said that a main objective is to “seek and apply for funding or fund-raise to purchase our own building”.
Other grant recipients include Kids with Incarcerated Parents and Y.A.A.A.C.E; Jane Finch Centre and Think 2wice; Rexdale Community Health Centre and Think 2wice; Midaynta and; Mending a Crack in the Sky; Unison Health and Community Services and Mind on Strength; Jane Alliance Neighbourhood Services (JANS) and Black Creek Youth Initiative; The; Neighbourhood Group and St. Jamestown Youth United; YouthLink and MIC Chek; Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities and The Good Guides; East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club and Bridging Borders with Inmates; Harriet Tubman Community Organization and National African Integration and Families Association; and Flemingdon Health Centre and Engaged Communities.
For more information on ENAGB in East York, please visit https://enagb-iya.ca/
— Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.