MCoS finds a home at Language Keepers Conference
By Jamal-e-Fatima Rafat, Project Coordinator
MCoS’ Welcoming & Inclusive Communities project coordinator, Jamal, had the opportunity to represent MCoS through a trade show at the 2016 First Nations Language Keepers Conference on Nov 23-24, 2016 in Saskatoon. The event brought First Nations groups from across North America together to learn about keeping their heritage languages alive. Jamal was excited to be part of it, because it gave her the chance to be immersed in and learn from an Indigenous environment.
It was also in the middle of the Saskatchewan Multicultural Week that ran November 19 – 27 this year. The project coordinator was able to attract six stories about multicultural superheroes that added to our treasure of stories around this year’s theme #MulticulturalSuperhero to celebrate multiculturalism in Saskatchewan. Superheroes varied from grandparents to international musicians, from university professors to language keepers. A highlight for Jamal was listening to internationally acclaimed educator Belinda Daniels, interim Director of the Saskatchewan
Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC), speak at the conference. Daniels shared a video of a youth in northern Saskatchewan who was part of her consultation series in the wake of a recent increase in youth suicides that occurred in northern communities only a few weeks earlier.
Spending two days at the conference, representing a multicultural organization, Jamal very quickly realized that she would be the only visible minority (non-white, non-Indigenous) at the whole event. In her own words Jamal describes the experience as being ‘eye-opening’.
Several people stopped by wondering what MCoS was doing there; others seemed to wonder, but were hesitant to ask. I had only seconds to break the ice to be able to start a conversation and connect at the level of small talk or about the organization. Being a visible minority, I was able to see people’s minds shift a bit internally, which started with a wonder and ended with a realization that of course, with the work we do on the recognition and rejection of racism, programs like BRIDGES, and making Saskatchewan communities welcoming and inclusive for all people, MCoS belonged there.
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> Look for the Playlist: Language Keepers Conference – Who’s Your Multicultural Superhero?