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The Trudeau government unveiled a $9-million fund Friday that it says aims to help black youth fully and equally participate in Canadian society.

The money was unveiled at news conferences in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Halifax and will fund projects for at-risk black youth over three years.

A news release says Canada’s black community faces unique and significant challenges, including overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, a higher prevalence of low income, and racism.

The government says it hopes to help equip young black Canadians with the tools and skills they need to overcome those barriers.

Blacks are the third largest visible minority in Canada, with about 1.2 million people.

The government says the money will go toward projects that help combat discrimination; promote black history, culture and identity; develop leadership skills; and encourage local community involvement.

“We know Canada as a welcoming and diverse country, but we must acknowledge that there remains significant work ahead before we attain true equity for everyone,” Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement Friday.

The government says the fund is part of Canada’s recognition of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.