IRAL was created to be the catalyst to express the talents of the underrepresented while providing them with a professional platform no matter their skill level. IRAL’s mission is to create an environment where people can unite, experience our culture on a higher level and also show appreciation to the artist behind the arts which will provide opportunities to others where it would have not been possible before.
As of today, we have only received approval (very recently), from one government funding group Canadian Heritage, who not only guided us through the application process, but really saw the vision of what we have and plan to execute. It is very hard at times to hold it together, but the dream/vision is what keeps us going. I'm convinced that there is a great future for tomorrow and the next generation of Afro, Caribbean, Latin and minority community if we can keep focused on the vision that IRAL represents.
What can IRAL provide to our local economy you may ask?
I believe if executed properly it will open our economy to larger tourism traffic to the cities hotels, malls, stores, and both small and large businesses will receive monetary gains annually from our visitors. Our youth can exercise their music and artistic talents and apart from that this helps both mental and physical upliftment too. IRAL will also expose our people to a worldwide stage of opportunity that can get them the recognition that in turn will be profitable for them, their family and communities.
As the owner of the parent company, Yaad Vibes Promotions (YVP), I was fortunate to have the funds to keep IRAL going for over a year; YVP is also the soul financial support that IRAL has up to date. I'm often asked how do I do it by my peers; apart from the financial struggles it's quite easy because I'm fully motivated and stubborn as well as too passionate to sit idly by when I know that I can make the necessary changes. I can clearly see the mountain that we will have to climb, but I am confident with the team that I have as I know that we can and will do what is necessary to achieve our goals.
What are some of the obstacles in your Path?
My first obstacle is the financial barrier. Strangely enough, I heard that funding is available for visible minorities. I'm not sure how much more black I'll have to be to be considered qualified, but I think I obviously get A+ for that one. As of today, with the exception of Canadian Heritage’s most recent approval, we have not yet received any funding from government or any business/organizations other than Yaad Vibes Promotions. And as for the funding that is supposed to be accessible for people of colour and minorities, the more I try to access the supposable easy to access grants the more I see barriers. It is clear to me why some will not even continue to try or deal with the stress nor engage themselves emotionally to only hear that you're not awarded because it is not good enough.
We got our first rejection from our government community arts founder last week and it has left me with many unanswered questions. After reading the rejection email a line in it stuck out “this program is highly competitive”, which may truly be the case, but why should we have to compete as a collective group of people to make our voices heard or to express ourselves! There were other statements that really annoyed me as well, like some organisations will say you can't inquire as to what basis your application was denied!
I'm fully aware of the struggles we have as minority and understand what people face in our society. After 2020, one would think that this would be an eye opener for our government body today. Today, measures should be in place to eliminate these barriers so that all Canadians can express themselves freely and participate in improving our communities. Let me be clear, IRAL is not an organization with a vision to break down Canada’s rules, laws or authority, because we know it took years of hard work to get where we are today, but the system needs serious renovation to accommodate the changing world within our borders.