Two Edmonton organizations will receive more than $3.5 million in federal funding over the next five years to address radicalization to violence in Alberta.
The Edmonton Police Service will receive $2.27 million over the next five years for The Resiliency Project, which will address potential sources of violent extremism both online and offline, in collaboration with the City of Edmonton and the Organization for the Prevention of Violence.
The Organization for the Prevention of Violence received $1.29 million over the next three years for a project to counter violent extremism in Alberta. Other cities in Canada, including Calgary, Toronto and Montreal have received money under the same federal program.
Alberta has a problem with extremism, said John McCoy, executive director, of the Organization for the Prevention of Violence.
"Based on what [knowledge] we have, Alberta is disproportionately impacted by these issues in comparison to most other provinces in Canada," McCoy said Friday.
McCoy wants to find out what leads people in Alberta to become isolated and latch onto extremist ideas that might lead to terrorism or hate crimes.
"It's an open question, why that exists," said McCoy. "[It's] something we want to address in our research."
'Ideologically motivated violence is real'
Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht said The Resiliency Project will help them zero in on how people are being influenced by violence based on ideology.
"Ideologically motivated violence is real," Knecht said. The project will help create online and community interventions to "divert individuals from being radicalized to commit acts of violence."
Since 2015, the youth services section of EPS has received "numerous" calls from agencies and people in the community asking for information on the warning signs related to this issue.
The increasing interest resulted in the creation of The Resiliency Project, Knecht said.
Research and education
The Organization for the Prevention of Violence hopes the money will help map potential sources for violent extremism in Alberta and address them.
"Hate-motivated violence comes from all different groups or individuals and that is where we want to have our base understanding of this problem," said Ahmed Abdulkadir, a co-founder of the organization.
The issue is not connected to any particular ethnic community, he said.
"Diverse communities, as well as academics, as well as practitioners, are trying to put together a solution that does not target one group," he said.
The goals for what the two organizations hope to accomplish were outlined by Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi.
"[The money will help provide] local support and intervention for individuals showing warning signs," said Sohi, the MP for Edmonton Mill Woods. "More education and awareness campaigns, enhanced youth and community engagement [is also needed]."
Sohi pointed to the stabbing and truck attack that happened in Edmonton in September 2017, injuring a police officer and four others.
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The incident is a reminder that "Canada is not immune to the threats of radicalization to violence," Sohi said.