ByBlacks.com chatted with the Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLM TO) Pascale Diverlus to find out about the COVID-19 Black Emergency Support Fund organized to support Black Canadians severely financially impacted by the global pandemic.
The goal of the fundraiser was to provide a $250 one time payment to applicants to assist with basic needs. The initial number of applicants expected was 120, but within 12 hours of announcing the fundraiser, there were 163 applicants.
BLM TO decided to increase the fundraising target to $35K to accommodate all 163 applicants, and have since surpassed the $35K target. At the time of writing, donations continue to pour in, and the amount raised is now over $50K.
“We were thinking about individuals and people facing financial difficulty, and knew that we could raise some money for them using our networks,” said BLM TO Co-Founder Pascale Diverlus.
When asked how they determine who gets funding, “There is no selection process, being Black in the city (Toronto) and in the GTA, comes with a certain amount of financial instability. People determine if they need funds and apply, the Black Emergency Support Fund is open to people who identify as Black,” said Pascale.
A lot of Toronto based Black Canadians were already working part-time in the gig economy. A disproportionate amount of Black Canadians earn low wages, some below the poverty line, living paycheque to paycheque.
With rent due, childcare and food costs looming, BLM TO was one of the first Black Canadian community organizations to mobilize a fundraiser specifically for Black Canadians.
“The fact that so many people applied for the BLM TO funding speaks to how Black people are living in the city,” said Pascale.
It’s not surprising considering the record number of Canadians applying for Employment Insurance (EI), and the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) since the provincial shutdown of non-essential businesses.
Through the application process, BLM TO has identified Black Canadians needing different types of support, and are putting people in touch with other special interest groups that can help them. “People are still asking to be added to the list, funds are being disbursed on a first come first serve basis,” said Pascale.
If you can, donate to the fundraiser by clicking here.