Alberta expanding support for security for faith-based schools

The Government of Alberta is expanding the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program (ASIP) grant to include Jewish and Islamic faith-based schools over the next year.

In a statement on Thursday, the province said it’s making this decision based on rising antisemitism and Islamophobia.

“Albertans have the right to learn, worship, socialize freely, and to feel safe while doing so,” said Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services.

“Too often, certain lately, hate targetted violence has tarnished peaceful protests and activities, giving rise to a climate of confrontation and an increased sense of fear felt among our province’s Jewish and Muslim communities.

“Albertans and their government will not stand for this.”

Ellis continued by saying acts of hate and bias-motivated acts of harassment and vandalism have no place in Alberta’s schools, places of worship, or streets.

“It doesn’t matter where you are from or where you pray. In Alberta, you have a right to remain safe walking down the street or going to school.”

The province says through the ASIP, eligible faith-based schools that have identified the need for short-term physical security on campus will be able to apply for up to $20,000 in funding.

“It has become clear that demand exists. In recent months, schools and parents have approached the government, expressing concerns about school security and options for responding to the needs. We’re taking proactive steps that will help keep students and worshippers safe,” said Minister Ellis.

The ASIP funds non-profit organizations, eligible charities, and places of worship. Through the new temporary funding, Islamic and Jewish faith-based schools will be able to cover the costs of security assessments and enhancements, according to the province.

The ASIP began in 2021, and has supported communities at risk of hate-motivated violence to address security needs.

The province says in 2022-23, funding for the program was increased to a total of $5 million annually.

In addition, it was noted since it began, over 230 grants have been issued, totalling over $2.4 million.

“The safety, security and well-being of students is the Alberta government’s highest priority. Every student in Alberta should feel safe and secure when they walk through the front door of their school. This additional funding will allow schools to enhance security for students,” said Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Education.

The province is also making the Alberta Sheriffs available to support local law enforcement in monitoring religious and cultural infrastructure such as synagogues, mosques, eligible schools, and community centres to deter hate-motivated vandalism and harassment.

“The rise in hate-motivated violence has no place in Alberta. We are taking action to protect Albertans from this violence, with a particular emphasis on protecting our children in faith-based schools. Let me be perfectly clear – people from all faiths are welcome in Alberta and the fundamental right to peaceful protest belongs to all Canadians. As minister of justice and attorney general for the Province of Alberta, I will do everything necessary to protect those rights,” stated Mickey Amery, Minister of Justice.

Ellis also added that the province does not believe there is a direct threat to either Jewish or Muslim communities or their school, however they want to ensure that supports are available to ensure the community feels safe.

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