A new space to gather as well as the hiring of two community navigators will help grow the BIPOC community on P.E.I., says executive director Sobia Ali-Faisal.
The group, established to support the Island's BIPOC community (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), spent the month of October moving into its new office space at 76 Kent Street in Charlottetown.
"There's lots of room for people to come here, and we're really excited to be able to have a space that's off the street that we can actually advertise," said Ali-Faisal.
"It's our own space. We have a little kitchenette, you know, some food, some snacks. So it allows us to create that kind of homey kind of feel for people."
It's the upper floor of a house, with a lot more space than the single room BIPOC USHR was operating out of before, said Ali-Faisal. It also has rooms that will allow the community navigators to work privately with community members seeking their help.
We are here to help them and support them. — Sobia Ali-Faisal
The navigators are there to help community members find the resources they need or work their way through the various systems they find themselves either needing to use or caught up in.
"Health care, mental-health care is a big one, the justice system and education: those three seem to be the most common issues," said Ali-Faisal.
Employment and immigration questions are also quite common, she said.
The two navigators, one full-time and one part-time, started in September and are already very busy.
"BIPOC community members now know that we are here to help them and support them," said Ali-Faisal.
"It gives them that sense of security here on P.E.I., which also might mean they're more likely to stay on P.E.I. That was one of our goals."
BIPOC USHR has had community navigators before, funded by the United Way, but that funding ran out in March.
Both the new space and the re-establishment of community navigators were made possible with operational funding supplied by the provincial government. The funding is a one-year pilot project that Ali-Faisal is hopeful will be renewed.