How can individuals and communities throughout Saskatchewan recognize and build on the benefits that multiculturalism brings to the province?
It’s the question at the heart of this year’s Saskatchewan Multicultural Week, set to be marked celebrated from Saturday, November 18 to Sunday, November 26. And it’s one the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS) has addressed through its 2023 theme: to Celebrate Community, Honour Diversity and Act for Equity. As a campaign, it will encourage people to share how different values, contributions, beliefs and actions combine to benefit Saskatchewan.
Rhonda Rosenberg, executive director of MCoS, points out that the isolation experienced during COVID-19 restrictions has led to a renewed appreciation for community – and a desire to nurture inclusive, welcoming, respectful spaces now that restrictions have eased.
“We want to think about what relationships might look like to ensure we’re creating a sense of belonging and value for everyone around us,” she says. “Everyone deserves to live in dignity and to be treated with respect. We’re always enriched by diversity in our communities, our businesses and organizations, and through our stories, values, beliefs and traditions, and how we express them.”
Rosenberg also underlines the importance of continually looking at the ways in which institutions and systems treat some people with privilege and others with oppression, exclusion and exploitation.
Saskatchewan Multicultural Week, she explains, can be an opportunity to “look for where there are barriers, where there are historical legacies or current realities that are experienced by people and communities that are often marginalized.
“We can look for power imbalances,” she says, “and then find ways to reduce those barriers and build relationships so that we’re really all able to contribute to our communities and feel like we’re valued.”
In recognition of individuals and organizations who are leading the way to further multiculturalism, the MCoS, in partnership with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, will be presenting a pair of brand-new awards. The ‘Leading Together’ award recipients will be celebrated at the annual Multicultural Honours event on November 18 at Wanuskewin. Noting that the awards are intended to highlight work being done towards reconciliation, Rosenberg says they’ll honour initiatives that “help people understand truth, work in a healing way to undo colonial harms, take part in anti-racism efforts, or work on specific issues, such as Missing and Murdered indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit people (MMIWG2S).
“There’s a huge range of work that people and organizations are doing, and can be doing, and this will be the very first year that these awards will be presented.”
Rosenberg adds that MCoS presents the Saskatchewan Multicultural Leadership Award annually to someone who has made long-term outstanding contributions to the province, and that younger community leaders are acknowledged through the Multicultural Youth Leadership Award. These two awards honour individuals who are using their energy to advance multicultural initiatives within Saskatchewan.
Near the end of Saskatchewan Multicultural Week, on November 25 at 1:00 p.m., the MCoS and Regina Local Immigration Partnership, along with the Regina Public Library and the Regina German Film Club, will present a screening of the film, The Newcomers. Admission is free, and will be followed by a panel discussion and reception.
“It’s a really interesting documentary about newcomers in small and rural areas, and the real range of experiences they have,” Rosenberg explains. “It’s thought-provoking and action-provoking, so it fits nicely with our themes this year.”
Additional information about Saskatchewan Multicultural Week and other MCoS programming can be found on their website, or by calling (306) 721-6267.