The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan is governed by an elected Board of Directors. The diverse wisdom and devotion the directors bring to their broad work on vision and policy complements the dedication of the staff to achieve and advance multiculturalism and demonstrate the provincial motto: From Many Peoples Strength.
These volunteers serve as cultural ambassadors in all areas of the province. The current directors were elected (or are continuing their term) on June 13th, 2015 at the MCoS Annual General Meeting to serve a one or two-year term.
Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan
2016-17 Board of Directors
Dr. Asit Sarkar is Professor Emeritus at the N. Murray Edwards School of Business of the University of Saskatchewan, having completed 37 years of active service at the University. From February, 1993 to June, 2002, Dr. Sarkar served as the first Director of University of Saskatchewan International and Special Adviser to the President of University of Saskatchewan. Prior to that, he was Associate Dean of University’s College of Commerce, first Director of the Centre for International Business Studies, and Head of the Department of Management and Marketing. He also held visiting faculty appointments in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. From 2002 to 2008, he served as the Director of the International Centre for Governance and Development at the University of Saskatchewan. He has led the development of the ICT-based Governance Knowledge Network as a platform for mobilizing and sharing Canadian knowledge on different aspects of governance and international development.
Asit’s professional work involved collaborations with scholars from Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Russia and Ukraine. Asit has an extensive record of international assignments and consultations sponsored by various bilateral and multilateral agencies including service as: adviser to the Asian Development Bank, Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency and Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor. He also served as the Co-Chair of the Canadian Program Operations Committee of the Yeltsin Democracy Fellowship Program, a program of the Canadian International Development Agency from 1993 to 2003 and as a specialist on capacity building and institutional development in a variety of international projects in such countries as Bulgaria, China, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Philippines, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam.
In October, 2002, Asit was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree by the Chernivtsi National University in Ukraine in recognition of his contribution towards Canada-Ukraine academic cooperation, curriculum reform and enterprise development systems in Ukraine. From 2010 to 2012, he served as Special Adviser on Immigration to Hon. Rob Norris, Saskatchewan’s Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration.
Asit’s service to community organizations include:
- Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (Board member)
- Folkfest Saskatoon – Honorary Ambassador, 2012
- Saskatoon Open Door Society (past Board member and Co-Chair of the Board)
- Saskatchewan Capacity for Internationally-trained Professionals (Past Chair, Vice Chair)
- Canada-Ukraine Centre Inc. (Board member and Treasurer)
- City of Saskatoon – Centennial Celebration Committee (Co-Chair, Fundraising), Board of Revision (member) and Development Appeals Board (member)
- Rotary Club of Saskatoon -Nutana (Past President; Chair of Rotary Foundation Committee)
- Saskatoon and District Chamber of Commerce (Past Board member, Committee Chair and Executive Committee)
- Chair of Volunteer Management, Bangladesh Pavilion, Folkfest Saskatoon 2011
- Chair, 150th Birth Anniversary Celebration of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, University of Saskatchewan
- Canada-Bangladesh Institute for Higher Education and Development (Board Chair)
- Member, Advisory Board, Saskatoon Bangla Heritage Language School
- Currently serving as a member of the consultative group to establish an intercultural institute in Saskatchewan.
- Bangladesh Community Association of Saskatchewan
- India-Canada Cultural Association
- Hindu Society of Saskatchewan
In 1976, Bruno started his urban municipal work career with the City of Regina. In 1980 he became the Town Administrator for the Town of Eston. Over the next 22 years, Bruno moved from Eston to Kyle, to Kelvington, to Kamsack and in 1998 became City Manager/Clerk for the City of Melville. Then in 2002, Bruno joined the Saskatchewan Municipal Board as a full time Board member. At the end of 2010, became the City Manager for Meadow Lake. He retired in 2012 and currently works part-time in Regina as a financial administrator for a national grocery store.
Bruno has volunteered his time for a variety of causes, from fire fighter in Kyle, Secretary/Treasurer for the Kelvington Sports Board to member of several Chamber of Commerce Boards. He was also an avid Kinsmen and held every executive position including President. While representing the Town of Kamsack, Bruno became the first Chair of the Venture Community Futures Development Corp. in Yorkton as well as joined the Lions Club.
In 1988 Bruno became involved in the cultural sector by joining the Saskatchewan German Council (SGC) where he held the positions of Treasurer, Vice President and President. He was appointed to the Sask. multicultural legislation review committee and the Saskatchewan – Ukraine Relations Committee representing the multicultural sector of Saskatchewan. He also served as Vice Chair of the Saskatchewan Multicultural Advisory Committee (SMAC).In 1995 Bruno was elected for one term (4 years) to the Cultural Advisory Committee (CAC) of SaskCulture and in 1999 to the SaskCulture Board of Directors and served 3 two-year terms. During his term with SaskCulture, Bruno served on the eligibility committee, the CAP committee, awards review committee and chaired the audit and finance committee.
In 2002 Bruno moved to Regina and joined the Volksliederchor Harmonie Inc. where he served as Treasurer from 2003 till 2011. In 2004 SaskCulture created the Multicultural Community of Interest committee, which Bruno chaired until 2006. In 2007 Bruno joined the Multicultural Initiative Fund adjudication Committee and in 2011 the Student Summer Works Program Jury. Both committees are committees of SaskCulture. In 2008 Bruno was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan served as Treasurer and was elected as President in 2012.
Bruno loves to officiate as Basketball referee and Baseball umpire. He also enjoys playing Golf and loves to play Table-Tennis.
Bruno is married to wife Sharon since 1974 and in 1975 immigrated to Regina to join his wife Sharon and first daughter. They now have five children (one son and four daughters) and the granddaughters Grace, Aynzlei and Hannah and one grandson Jake.
Neeraj lives in Regina and is married to his sweetheart from his kindergarten school years in India. Currently he works as Senior Engineer with the City of Regina and is a professional engineer registered with APEGS (Association of Professional Engineers and Geo-Scientists of Saskatchewan). He is currently finishing his executive MBA from Kenneth Levene School of Business at the U of R. Neeraj has widely travelled across the length and breadth of India and North America due to his previous jobs in Sales and Business development.
Neeraj is actively involved in the community. Neeraj served on the board of India Canada Association of Saskatchewan for several years as a Vice president, Director and Volunteer. Neeraj was an ambassador at the India pavilion at Mosaic for three years. As a Hindi language school coordinator at Regina, Neeraj was actively involved in the promotion of the heritage language amongst youth in Regina. He has also worked very closely with Regina Multicultural Council, Multilingual Association of Regina, Saskatchewan Organization for Heritage Languages.
Neeraj has worked as City of Regina’s United Way representative of their biggest division – City Operations (previously Public Works). He volunteered at City of Regina ‘Festival of Lights’ to mark the arrival of Xmas season. He was a volunteer coordinator of famous wagon ride and Santa parade during festival of lights. Neeraj has been actively volunteering at the ‘I love Regina Day’ event for three years. Neeraj has volunteered at the ‘I love Regina’ run and ‘Mayor’s run’ for the last few years. Neeraj was an active member of the diversity group in his previous organization (CNH). He represented diversity during Farm shows, Rodeos, and various City events.
When Neeraj was an engineering student in India, he organized several exhibitions and ‘road shows’ of his cartoons, collage work and drawings to bring awareness about national integration and peace amongst fellow youth. This initiative during the troubled times in the state of Punjab in India was highly appreciated and encouraged by local administration, universities and students.
Relaxation for Neeraj is listening to Indian music while driving in rural Western Canada. Neeraj loves Indian food and misses the ‘old-Delhi’ style delicious street food.
Meka holds a Master’s degree with Distinction in Environmentally Sustainable Process Technology, from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and a PhD degree in Environmental Systems Engineering from the University of Regina. He is a professional engineer with work experience in business development and technology research and innovation in the energy and urban infrastructure sectors.
Previously, Meka was Vice President, Economic Development for the Regina Regional Opportunities Commission, the agency responsible for economic development and tourism for the Regina region. Prior to that, he was Vice President for Innovation & Business Development at Communities of Tomorrow (CT), a private-public economic development partnership focused on creating innovative infrastructure solutions for municipalities. He has also been Leader, Business Development for SaskEnergy, where he worked to implement better and cleaner energy solutions, create new revenue streams for the company, and attract new businesses to Saskatchewan.
In 2012, Meka ran for Mayor of Regina; an experience he describes as his greatest leadership development exercise so far. In 2013, he was named as one of the top 40 under the age of 40 shaping the future of Saskatchewan, and awarded a CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 Certificate of Merit for Distinction in Business.
Having studied and lived around the world in countries spanning Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, as well as in Australia, Meka, together with his wife, Funke, Meka enjoy staying current on global affairs, travelling, meeting new people and learning about new cultures.
Renata was born in Bosnia and during the war, her family escaped to Croatia. They immigrated to Canada 18 years ago when she was 13 years old. After moving here, Renata started volunteering during high school at various organizations that assisted newcomers. Initially, she volunteered at Regina Open Door Society because they were the first organization that welcomed her family at the airport. She also volunteered at Regina Immigrant Women Centre, where she volunteered with her mother by assisting with various fundraising events and office duties.
She also made connections with staff at the United Way of Regina and regularly volunteered there during her last year of high school and into the first year of university. The projects she was involved in highlighted multiculturalism and diversity. Our volunteer team was also involved in the annual Anti-Racism Day put on by Street Culture.
Renata moved to Saskatoon, where she had the privilege to work as a Youth Worker/Coordinator for a project for at-risk youth living in low income housing provided by the Saskatoon Housing Authority. The project aimed to improve leadership skills by offering a free program where the youth could gain access to fun and educational activities that they would not otherwise be able to afford. Most of the youth were First Nations and newcomers and they experienced racism, discrimination, stereotypes and prejudice on a regular basis. The project and staff provided them with opportunities to share their culture and practice their leadership skills during regular program times.
In 2005, Renata completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. She is employed with International Women of Saskatoon (formerly Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan) as a Coordinator for the Language Assessment and Referral Centre. This organization assists newcomers, especially women, to settle and integrate into Canadian society by offering free programs and services. With this position, Renata has been able to network with many community based organization in Saskatchewan.
Currently, Renata sits on MCoS’ Allocations Committee for Strategic Initiatives/Intercultural Connections. She also volunteers as a Director of Youth Development for Share the Wake Program in Saskatoon. The program’s purpose is to offer youth at-risk a free opportunity to try Wakeboarding during the summer at one of our one-day camps. She also volunteers for the semi-annual Flock and Gather craft sale in Saskatoon.
Known for being a creative person who likes being involved in the community, Renata really enjoys meeting new people and networking. She is very interested in making a difference in the community and fighting for those who cannot do it for themselves. Renata believes that being on the board will allow her to offer her perspective and experience within our multicultural community.
Muna is the recipient of the 2012 Betty Szuchewycz Award for outstanding contribution to multiculturalism in Saskatchewan (awarded by MCoS). Muna currently serves on the boards of the Regina Multicultural Council and the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum. Muna also serves as the chair of the Human Rights/ Equity Committee of the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union and as a member of the Diversity Committee at Paul Dojack Youth Centre, where she works. Muna has worked tirelessly in the Africa Association of Regina and Daughters of Africa International promoting involvement and participation in multicultural programming and activities by associations’ members, families, and the wider community.
Muna is a member of the Skin and Bone Drum Group, which promotes multiculturalism in the community through music, workshops and dance. As Saskatchewan is becoming more multicultural and multilingual, Muna believes it is very important that she and the entire community embrace, support, and promote multiculturalism. By working and socializing together in harmony to preserve our diverse heritages and traditions, we foster a dynamic multicultural community where the people who have made Saskatchewan their home live in peaceful cooperation.
Currently, in her role with on the Board of the Regina Multicultural Council Board, Muna has mostly been chairing multicultural events and working with schools and the Regina Police Service (RPS) to implement educational initiatives during March 21st events. In 2013, Muna was the key note speaker at the Clued In Include Workshop organized by the RPS on March 21st – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Day.
Muna lives in Regina with her family and works as Youth Counsellor at the Paul Dojack Youth Centre in Regina. She holds a certificate in nursing (Licensed Practical Nurse), a Bachelor Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Xiao Feng Zhang, Director
Xiao Feng Zhang currently serves on the board of the Prince Albert Multicultural Council (PAMC) where she previously worked as the Assistant Executive Director. Xiao Feng has extensive experience assisting new immigrants to Canada with respect to inquiries, settlement needs, community referrals, and English training needs. She is also a very experienced event planner and organizer of fundraising and cultural activities and events. She worked in planning and organizing Tapestrama cultural festival and Canada Day Celebration in Prince Albert. Through the Mini Language Program organized by SOHL (Saskatchewan Organization of Heritage Languages), she participated as a Chinese language teacher and promoted multicultural values and the benefits of cultural diversity. She has been especially involved with the local (Prince Albert and area) Chinese community, and actively cooperates with other organizations to enhance community services, interpretation, translation, counseling, cultural integration, and other needs. She believes value in sharing and community involvement. She presently volunteers for the Prince Albert Tutor Learner Connections program and the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Xiao Feng worked as an English teacher in 2005 in her home country, China. In 2004, after leaving school, she worked in a telecommunication company as a manager in customer service department, gaining experience in managerial skills.
Xiao Feng graduated from the Bei Fang University of Nationalities in 2004 with her Teaching Certificate and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Language Literature. During her schooling, she received a Student Merit Award, Excellent Student Cadre Award and an Individual Scholarship.
Xiao Feng has two children, they were both born in Prince Albert. She enjoys quality time with family and friends. She often promotes her interests in graphic design during her leisure time. After first living for a year in Calgary, in 2008 she moved to Saskatchewan and now calls Prince Albert home.
Julio Torres-Recinos, Director
Julio has been involved with several city, provincial and national multicultural organizations for many years and in different capacities. When he moved from Guelph, Ontario to Saskatoon in 1999, he immediately got involved with the Hispanic Circle of Saskatoon (vice-president 1999-00; president 2000-04), The Saskatoon Spanish School (coordinator and principal, 2000-02), and the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association (board member 1999-03; treasurer 2003-06). He also got involved with the Folkfest Hispanic Pavilion (executive member 1999-05) and then he worked with Folkfest Saskatoon Inc., its parent institution, for many years (board member 2005-08; vice-president 2007, 2012; president 2008-10). Julio was a Regional Director of MCoS for several years (2005-08) and vice-president (2008-10). He has worked hard either as a board member or as a leader on behalf on the organizations and their stakeholders. He attends meetings regularly and participates actively. Some highlights of Julio’s involvement as vice-president and president of Folkfest include the reinstatement of our Gala Preview and the creation of the Global Village Pavilion. At MCoS, he participated actively through several critical moments, such as the drafting of new governance principles, a key condition from SaskCulture in order to maintain its funding, among others.
At the national level, Julio was the treasurer of the Canadian Association of Spanish for two years (2005-07) and he has been involved with the organization for many years. He has been involved for many with the Cultural Celebration of the Spanish Language, a literary and scholar festival that takes place in Toronto every year and where he gave poetry readings.
Julio is a poet and short story writer, as well as a cultural promoter of Hispanic literature in Canada. He has published several books of poetry in Canada and Europe, and one of short stories that was published in Spain. He has co-edited three anthologies of Hispanic Canadian literature and has given many poetry recitals since 1990 in many Canadian provinces, including Saskatchewan, as well as other countries such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Spain and Germany. Julio was the special guest at the fourth Discovery Festival, organized by the Francophone group of theatre La Troupe du Jour of Saskatoon on March 27, 2015, where he gave a poetry recital accompanied by guitarist Rodolfo Pino.
Julio is a Professor of Spanish and literature at the University of Saskatchewan. He completed a B.A. at York University, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. He currently resides in Saskatoon with his son Manrique.
Harvey is president of the Muskoday Organic Growers Co-op (MOGC), located in the Muskoday First Nation, Saskatchewan. MOGC is a cultural group of retired farmers and gardeners living in Muskoday First Nation. The Co-op’s aim is to explore, reclaim and revitalize the community’s Indigenous heritage in the production of Indigenous food crops and creating a culturally and economically sustainable community. Harvey spent his childhood years growing up on his family’s farm in Muskoday and remembers a time when many small family farms still thrived in the community.
Harvey believes that culture, economy, natural environment need to be recognized and observed as interdependent and reciprocal forces in our daily lives. To this end, he is involved as a learner, volunteer and consultant with many cultural groups and activities in Saskatchewan. At the local community level, he participates in many Indigenous ceremonial activities and events such as fasting and rain dance, and feast ceremonies and continues to work with knowledgeable Cree and Saulteaux elders in writing and publishing books and articles on Indigenous culture and history. He looks forward to sharing and exchanging his ways of life and knowing with other cultural groups in Saskatchewan towards better understanding and co-existence.
Harvey has strong background in working with many other cultures in Saskatchewan serving as Board of Director of SaskCulture over the past 6 years in which over 140 cultural organizations are supported. Growing up experiencing and learning in both First Nations and the Non-Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan has given him a broader understanding, appreciation, and sensitivity to multicultural nature of Saskatchewan society and it great potential. Harvey knows the importance of helping to recognize, support, nurture and celebrate the growth of an interdependent cultural and economic life for all citizens in Saskatchewan and to promote the sharing of these diverse cultural experiences.
Harvey has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Saskatchewan and has worked extensively in the publishing industry as an author, editor, and photo-journalist. Harvey is also a musician and operates a music company called Many Worlds Music, assisting artists in recording and promoting their original music. He has a background training and working as a videographer and has had schooling and interests in doing painting and theater. Harvey is has been contentedly married for 34 years with a family of four adult children and eight grandchildren.
Ranjan Datta, Director
Dr. Ranjan Datta has made substantial and sustained contributions to cultural diversity and the dangers of racism through his community activities and graduate research, and these contributions have had a major impact on the immigrants, Indigenous, and research communities in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Dr. Ranjan Datta has been able to connect to a larger community through participation in social well-being and justice movements such as: the Idle No More Movement, First Nations Land Rights, Saskatoon Community Radio (CFCR 90.5), Indigenous language movement, Food Bank, and Friendship Inn. Through all these past and ongoing roles he has learned how it is possible to transform ideas into practices through commitment and collaborative engagement. Dr. Datta has been engaged with MCoS’ anti-racism activities and MCoS’ visions (such as: recognizing of Aboriginal peoples contributions for Saskatchewan province and Canada, decolonizing colonial history, and promoting benefits of cross-cultural diversity) last four years.
Dr. Datta is widely known as an international graduate student expert and leader on immigrant and Indigenous research, and making positive impacts on the communities, and he has received numerous accolades for research excellence. For example, at our university’s inaugural Images of Research competition, two of his photos won People’s Choice and one photo won a Community and Impact award (http://research.usask.ca/images-of-research.php). These photos perhaps document his curiosity as well as his desire to learn and connect with others while he expands his research areas. Dr. Datta has published 10 international peer reviewed journal articles, co-author for 2 books, 5 invited lectures, and presented in 14 international and national peer reviewed conferences. Dr. Datta had a strong breadth of teaching experience in K-12 Indigenous schools and university environments. Working with Indigenous and immigrant colleagues, known nationally and internationally, has given him further exposure to their contributions in: Indigenous education, rights, and practice; anti-racist theory and practice and Indigenous research methodology and methods.
Dr. Datta expects to continue with community service for the rest of his life because he is, by necessity, a vehement critic of injustice. He lives in Saskatoon with his wife, Jebunnessa and two children.
Bob Lesperance, Director
Bob self-declares as an Aboriginal person. He was raised on the Metis farm in Lebret, Saskatchewan where his family was part of the management team running the community. When he lived there, the Métis culture was strong and vibrant and he experienced Métis culture as part of his everyday life. Today, Bob follows traditional teachings and has connections with many Aboriginal communities throughout Saskatchewan.
He has been in sales and servicing businesses, schools, clubs and organizations for over 20 years and has been in practically every small town and reserve in Saskatchewan at one time or another. Bob currently serves as Mayor of his local community of Findlater. He has also spent many years volunteering with Big Brothers, Kinsmen and on the organizing committee for Telemiracle which is one of the largest fundraisers in Saskatchewan.
Bob and his family live on a small acreage between Regina and Saskatoon where they enjoy the wide open skies, visiting with neighbours, playing with their dogs and tending their gardens.