• $5 million Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund now accepting expressions of interest
  • Inaugural funding for Black Youth Helpline and National Association of Friendship Centres
  • Building on other Bell Let's Talk funds focused on Canada's diverse communities

MONTRÉAL, July 30, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell today announced the launch of a $5 million Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund to support the mental health and well-being of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities across Canada. Building on earlier funds to address clear needs in Canadian communities, the new program is focused on supporting initiatives that increase access to culturally informed mental health services for racialized Canadians.

"Bell has taken a strong stance against racism and social injustice and we're taking meaningful action to address the impacts of systemic racism on Black, Indigenous and People of Colour within our company and across our communities," said Mirko Bibic, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. "As part of this commitment, I am pleased to announce the new $5 million Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund specifically focused on supporting BIPOC communities."

"Working with expert advisors and partners, the Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund will offer grants to organizations working to make a positive and lasting difference for BIPOC communities in every region of the country," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "As our mental health initiative evolves, Bell Let's Talk continues to embrace new opportunities to deliver culturally informed community supports addressing the mental health needs of racialized Canadians."

Inaugural partnerships

The Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund is launching today with inaugural donations of $250,000 to these organizations:

  • Black Youth Helpline, a volunteer-driven initiative founded in Winnipeg that supports Black youth and their families across Canada with a focus on education, health and community development.
  • National Association of Friendship Centres, the network of more than 100 local Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations throughout Canada providing culturally enhanced services for urban and off-reserve Indigenous people.

"With funding from Bell Let's Talk, Black Youth Helpline will build on its successful history of services and resources to promote access to professional and culturally appropriate support for youth," said Barbara Thompson, Founder and Executive Director, Black Youth Helpline. "Now more than ever, the importance of having mental health supports and services available to Black youth across Canada is crucial."

"The National Association of Friendship Centres is excited to begin a partnership with Bell Let's Talk to support the mental health and well-being of urban Indigenous communities," said Jocelyn Formsma, Executive Director of NAFC. "We are thrilled that this funding will help to ensure our communities have access to culturally-specific mental health supports."

The Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund will provide grants of up to $250,000 for organizations that offer culturally informed and evidence-based mental health and wellness programs for BIPOC communities while also aligning with the 4 action pillars of Bell Let's Talk: Anti-Stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership. Registered charities and not-for-profit groups wishing to apply for grants can learn more about the fund and submit expressions of interest at Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

Expert advisors and partners

Bell Let's Talk is engaging with a wide range of advisors from BIPOC communities across Canada including mental health experts and people with lived experience. These leaders will provide guidance, including on direction and priorities, as well as the review process for expressions of interest received by the new fund. 

"Mental health has long been one of the top priorities for the Black population of Canada," said Dr. Kwame McKenzie, Director of Health Equity at CAMH, Professor and Co-Director of the Division of Equity Gender and Population in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and CEO of the Wellesley Institute. "The impacts of COVID-19 have made mental health even more important. I am delighted that Bell Let's Talk has recognized the specific mental health needs of the Black population of Canada with this new initiative."

"As a Friend of Bell Let's Talk and a member of the Inuit community in Iqaluit, I am thrilled that this fund will help provide much needed mental health supports and services for the BIPOC community," said Melynda Ehaloak, Registered Nurse and mental health advocate. "Funding for culturally specific programs is so important to supporting the mental health of our communities and will help ensure the well-being of future generations."

"Recent events, including COVID-19, which has taken a heavy toll in Black communities, and the international awareness of the effects of systemic racism, have highlighted the importance of the availability of mental health care for Canada's Black population," said Dr. Myrna Lashley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. "The Bell Let's Talk Diversity Fund's aim of promoting and supporting the mental health of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, is one I am very happy to endorse."

"Indigenous communities across Canada are engaged in reclaiming and expressing traditional and cultural ways of knowing, being and doing that support our peoples' mental health and wellness," said Dr. Arlene Lalibertéa psychologist in Timiskaming First Nation. "I am pleased that Bell Let's Talk is committing to combat systemic racism that impacts Indigenous peoples' wellness every day."

"Experiencing mental health and addiction issues as a member of the Black community makes getting appropriate and timely support even more difficult," said Paulette Walker, Peer / Community Support Worker at CAMH. "I applaud Bell Let's Talk for putting a spotlight on the mental health and well-being of racialized and marginalized communities and investing to create positive change." 

In addition to the broad national Bell Let's Talk Community Fund supporting a diverse range of grassroots mental health initiatives in every province and territory, Bell Let's Talk has launched funds for Indigenous mental health initiatives in Canada's northern territories and in Manitoba, which have provided grants to leading organizations such as Embrace Life CouncilMa Mawi Wi Chi Itata CentreOgijiita Pimatiswin KinamatwinBear Clan PatrolBehavioural Health FoundationStrongest Families Institute and Peguis Foundation.

The largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let's Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars – Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership. Since its launch in 2010, Bell Let's Talk has partnered with more than 1,000 organizations providing mental health supports and services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing advanced broadband wireless, TV, Internet and business communication services throughout the country. Bell Media is Canada's premier content creation company with leading assets in television, radio, out of home and digital media. Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). To learn more, please visit Bell.ca or BCE.ca.



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