Region invests $1.1 million into grassroots work to improve community well-being

Posted on Monday May 08, 2023

Waterloo Region – The Region of Waterloo is investing $1.1 million into grassroots work that improves health outcomes for Indigenous and racialized families and youth.

Research has shown that racialized groups face disproportionate barriers in areas that contribute to health and wellbeing like income, employment, and community belonging. Developing a sense of belonging and providing opportunities can support them to reach their full potential.

“Investment in this grassroots work is essential,” says Regional Chair Karen Redman at the last of four launch events held today. "The Upstream and Community Capacity Building Funds recognize and support the need to expand the work these groups are doing to improve the health and wellbeing of families and youth who continue to face systemic barriers and discrimination in this community.”

The groups and organizations at today’s launch event are among 41 recipients of a $4 million investment to improve community safety and wellbeing. The funds support and prioritize work led by and serving First Nations, Inuit and Métis, African Caribbean and African, Caribbean and Black-identifying, racialized, and other communities facing discrimination and systemic barriers. 

The Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region’s (CCAWR) mentorship program is among the projects receiving funding. The program focuses on creating a safe and supportive environment for mentees and mentors to learn, connect, and grow.

“The goal of this program is to promote Black History, Black Heritage, and Black Achievement by fostering a cohesive and resilient community that models representation, equity, and diversity while empowering individuals to reach their aspirations,” says CCAWR board member Avonaé Gentles.

The K-W Urban Native Wigwam Project is using their funding for programs that provide healing for Indigenous community members. “One very important area of support is our youth,” says Donna Dubie, Executive Director of The Healing of the Seven Generations. “This funding supports Ga’nigqhi:yo (Carry the Peace), a youth conference May 15 and 16. It also supports four staff: a knowledge keeper, healing practitioner, cultural program coordinator, and community support worker. Each position is instrumental in providing culture and support to our community members and their families.”

The Gizaagi'in Healing Space’s funding will support expansion of services and a space for the organization to operate. “The Upstream funding gave Gizaagi’in Healing life, and created a safe and inclusive space for Children and youth of all walks of life to be who they are while learning about Indigenous ways of being,” says CEO Sheena Carroll. “Upstream was critical in bringing to life the vision of ‘We see you! We hear you! We love you!’ and has helped us build confidence in our youth and make dreams come to life, though love and healing.”

Applications for the 2023 Upstream Fund are open until May 15.

After applications close, the committee, which is comprised of community members, will allocate funding based on priorities identified by community. This funding model removes barriers for those who have historically, and continue to be, excluded from funding opportunities.

Investing in community-led change was a key call to action from community as part of the Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan process.


Backgrounder - Upstream Fund recipients:

Anishnabeg Outreach Employment and Training Inc.?

  • $100,000 Community Capacity Fund 

Supporting the Spirit Bundle program to provide food and other necessities, such as household items and hygiene products to more than 450 families in the Waterloo Region.?

Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region?

  • $15,000 Community Capacity Fund 

Expansion of the annual Black History Launch Event to deliver content over a 3-month to 6-month period, with the theme of "Black History, Black Heritage, Black Achievement."?

Central Ontario Chinese Cultural Centre?

  • $25,000 Community Capacity Fund 

Intergenerational programming, including language and dance for youth and support for older generations such as transportation, shopping and groceries.??

Ethiopian Association KW and Surrounding Area?

  • $158,500 Community Capacity Fund 

Continue to deliver and enhance programs and supports that meet the immediate needs of the community and enhance belonging by funding staffing, programming and operational costs, including space rental for short-term programs.

Gizaagi'in Healing Space?

  • $115,000 Upstream
  • $30,000 Community Capacity Fund 

Supporting finding physical space, employing staff, and beginning to create a space for deeper connection. As well, creating services centered on peer support, mental health resources and more for Indigenous peoples and the wider community.

The Islamic Centre of Cambridge - Jami Mosque?

  • $10,000 Community Capacity Fund 

Continuation of the Feed the Need program to increase services and purchase and distribute food and items to vulnerable families.?

Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre ?

  • $20,000 Upstream Fund

Increasing accessibility for the “Me Breastfeed” prenatal workshop. Training of diverse volunteers for peer based support.

K-W Urban Native Wigwam Project?

  • $166,667 Community Capacity Fund 

Hiring of a support and outreach worker to provide real time support where needed and build relationships within the community. Provide mental health supports for Indigenous families in housing and those in search of housing.?

Nigerians in the Region of Waterloo (NIROW) 

  • $50,000 Community Capacity Fund 

Providing a cultural foodbank to enable members of our community who are low-income earners, new immigrants, facing precarious housing, and student’s cultural foods to supplement what they can afford at the common grocery stores.?

Peace for All Canada Organization?

  • $102,943 Community Capacity Fund 

Identification and training of community education navigators in the Circle process, building skills and capacities within communities to support dialogue and reflective story sharing among parents of children and youth negatively impacted within the school system, in pursuit of community-led engagement with the Education system/teachers and school administrators. In this way, proactively mitigating short-term impacts of racism and discrimination on mental health, violent conflict prevention, and the academic trajectory of racialized children.  

Sexual Health Options, Resources and Education Centre

  • $37 500 Upstream Fund 

Increasing cultural responsiveness and reducing systemic barriers for newcomer and racialized groups in relation to pregnancy care, sexual health and reproductive rights. 

Townline Muslim Centre?

  • $115,000 Upstream Fund
  • $30,000 Community Capacity Fund 

We will create leadership training and opportunities for young women in Cambridge and area, provide them with tools to increase self-confidence, learn new skills, and increase their sense of inclusion and belonging between citizens and systems.

Wisahkotewinowak Collective?

  • $67,500 Upstream Fund

Collaborating through land-based relationships that nurture education and Indigenous food sovereignty, promote local food security, and provide engagement and employment opportunities for Indigenous youth in Waterloo Region.

Young City Growers?

  • $100,000 Upstream Fund

Continuation of urban land-based programming through a paid internship program for the BIPOC youth.  Creation of a board of directors and organizational structure to improve the sustainability of the program.


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