A Rainbow of Culture in Rosthern

Aboriginal, Anti-Racism, Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation, culture, Diversity, EAL, f, Filipino, First Nations and Metis, From Many Peoples Strength, immigrant, Immigration, Indigenous Peoples, MCoS, multicultural, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, multiculturalism, Newcomer, Partnership, Refugee, refugee family, Rosthern, saskatchewan, volunteer

Mayor Dennis Helmuth of Rosthern and Chief Roy Petit of Beardys Okemasis First Nation signing a Friendship Agreement in Rosthern, Fall 2017. This action taken by these two forward thinking and wonderful community leaders was nationally recognized by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.


With immigration at an all-time high in Saskatchewan, creating welcoming and inclusive communities for newcomers has never been more crucial. When people like where they live, feel needed and valued, and are able to sustain a comfortable way of life, they stay where they are and draw others into the community. It is a simple equation that the town of Rosthern has taken to the next level.

We moved here because two of my friends already lived here and they told us there were good job opportunities. So we felt very welcome here, especially our kids.

Several groups in Rosthern have sponsored refugee families, and word of mouth tends to travel far and wide when someone is settled and loving the community. Such was the case for Josephine and her family who moved from the Philippines in 2010. “We moved here because two of my friends already lived here and they told us there were good job opportunities. So we felt very welcome here, especially our kids. We really like Rosthern because it’s a very peaceful place; people are so nice, very friendly, helpful, caring, trusting and kind. I feel like we really belong here because we are treated equally.” Approximately 20 separate Filipino families call Rosthern home among dozens of other newcomers, and that surprises visitors to the town. But Josephine says it is also the many amenities in Rosthern like the hospital, banks, grocery store, and restaurants that keep people here. “We also like that the school is so close to our house. It makes life here very convenient.”
The two public schools in Rosthern are made up of approximately 25% English as an
Additional Language (EAL) students in their classrooms. It is a very high percentage that has the children teaching the adults a thing or two about embracing every colour of our cultural rainbow. Picking up bits and pieces of different languages has become the norm for the kids, giggling and encouraging each other to try out new words. Rosthern also has several adult EAL classes run by different volunteer groups that reach out into the community to expand the experiences of their students on a regular basis.
A diverse community displaying multiculturalism prospers in Rosthern: German, Métis, Filipino, Ukrainian, Syrian, Burmese, First Nations, Persian, East Indian, Karen, and the list just keeps growing! Mariam, a Syrian wife and mother says that the expanding multiculturalism is one of the reasons they liked Rosthern so much. “We do not feel that we are far from our families, we found a beautiful country and beautiful people here.” For Josephine, successful multiculturalism means “… living or being in a place where there is harmony, unity, respect and peace despite our differences in culture and beliefs.”

For Josephine, successful multiculturalism means “… living or being in a place where there is harmony, unity, respect and peace despite our differences in culture and beliefs.”

With that spirit of equal partnership, Rosthern and their friends to the North at Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation, recently signed a Friendship Agreement to solidify both communities’ commitment to working together. Chief of Beardy’s Okemasis’ Cree Nation, Roy Petit, and Mayor of Rosthern, Dennis Helmuth, are setting an example of creating welcoming and inclusive communities and embracing multiculturalism that shines like a bright beacon of hope. A beacon that welcomes all cultures, and because of this, will accomplish great things.

Photo Gallery

This blog was written and submitted by Kate Kading

The KAIROS Blanket Exercise program is a unique, participatory history lesson – developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and educators – that fosters truth, understanding, respect, and reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

www.kairosblanketexercise.org

The exercise builds awareness and understanding of our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada by having participants literally walk through situations that include pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. Participants are drawn into their roles by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes.

“The Blanket Exercise is an excellent means of educating Canadians about the history of this land. The AFN is proud to partner with KAIROS Canada to heighten awareness and reconciliation through this very important and powerful activity.” Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

Contact:
Lorraine Bellegarde
KAIROS Blanket Exercise Regional Coordinator Saskatchewan
1.877.403.8933 Ext 254
lbellegarde@kairoscanada.org

International Women’s Day – Progress of Indigenous Women

Submitted by Guest Blogger, Jaspal Gill
International Women’s Day was started by the Suffragettes movement in the early 1900s, with the earliest celebration occurring in 1911. In particular there was outrage over a factory fire causing multiple deaths in New York in 1908. The cry for “Bread and Roses” is symbolic. The Roses represent women’s desire for better working conditions, and the bread represents the call for sustainable wages so as to be able to feed the families. Now, this day is celebrated every year in March worldwide to acknowledge the contribution of women. Each of us can play a purposeful role in the progress of women. With respect especially to the needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, one way that we can work to advance this progress is by engaging immigrants into this dialogue.

With respect especially to the needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women, one way that we can work to advance this progress is by engaging immigrants into this dialogue.

As a South Asian immigrant woman, I have learned to appreciate the distinct strengths and values of Indigenous women in Canada, as well as the distinct needs and problems they face. The most challenging factor for immigrant women is finding the time to learn about other cultures.  Encouragement will help newcomers find the time. When I first moved to Canada, in 2002, options were limited for me and engaging with others was tough. I had little time to learn about the Canadian culture in general, let alone Indigenous cultures. But as I became more involved with the community for the last 14 years in Ontario, I realized I was not educated enough about their cultures in Canada. When looking to settle down in a new land, it is often easy to forget to learn about the Indigenous peoples in our new land.
In my case, the challenges of raising a family, finding a job, and learning to understand the system, deterred me from learning about Indigenous peoples, societies, and cultures. But I now realize that it is extremely important to encourage newcomers to understand and appreciate the role of Indigenous cultures in shaping Canada’s heritage, and connecting Canadian society to the land. Of course, this is not just important for newcomer Canadians, but for all Canadians as well.

But I now realize that it is extremely important to encourage newcomers to understand and appreciate the role of Indigenous cultures in shaping Canada’s heritage, and connecting Canadian society to the land.

Racism remains prevalent in Canada, even for a fastpaced developing society, despite past efforts from the people who broke barriers for change, activists such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Unfortunately, women often end up being the target of racist attacks. South Asian immigrants need to do more to learn about the oppression of Indigenous peoples, to understand Indigenous cultures and values, and to stand with Indigenous women in the fight against racism, violence, and discrimination.
In my experience, many of my South Asian peers were not familiar with the cultural values or norms associated with Indigenous societies. Thankfully, the children of South Asian families are educated about the history and culture of Indigenous peoples growing up in Canadian schools.  However, those of us who immigrated as adults have to go out of our way to educate ourselves. It is imperative for dialogue to open up, and for public education for newcomer adults to include learning about Indigenous societies, history, cultures, and present conditions.
After moving to Treaty 6 Territory two years ago, I was shocked to witness the challenges Indigenous people face, especially the women. Educating ourselves will help us newcomers to assist in the eradication of oppression of Indigenous peoples, especially within the judicial system, rooted in racism within Canadian society. As South Asians have our own history of strong advocates for change, like Gandhi, we are natural allies in the battle against oppression of Indigenous Canadians.

After moving to Treaty 6 Territory two years ago, I was shocked to witness the challenges Indigenous people face, especially the women.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called for providing better information for newcomers about the history of the diverse Indigenous peoples of Canada (Call to Action #93). More education is needed to give new Canadians a better understanding of Indigenous cultures and to engage them in Indigenous issues. This education is imperative so that new Canadians better serve Indigenous peoples and become involved in supporting the progress of Indigenous women. The immigrant’s participation during this process will make a significant difference in the community, and is absolutely necessary for reconciliation.
Oppressed Indigenous women can make progress this International Women’s Day, through raising awareness of their problems among the public, and by setting goals to work towards. The thematic discussion of this special day in March provides vast scope to discuss many issues affecting women. The physical limitations of poverty, violent acts against women, damage to self-esteem through the effects of negative media portrayals and stereotypical remarks, are all problems requiring attention in our shared struggle for equal rights. Awareness can be increased through social media: sharing and posting, on various platforms, about issues affecting women. Raising awareness online is one way to help spread the word and give these issues the attention they deserve.
Working as a legal professional in Prince Albert, I witness everyday the circumstances Indigenous people go through within the community. There are many ways that we all can become a part of the solution. Through the use of grassroots organizations, we have an opportunity to address the problem of oppression in Canada. By reaching out in the local communities to raise awareness of the issues affecting Indigenous peoples and vulnerable members of society, we can journey towards realizing real solutions. Such a journey will be well worth the effort.
We can engage the immigrant population on a grassroots level to become active participants in this journey. For example, a sizeable portion of immigrants have a preconceived notion that jury duty may be a risk to their lives. We need to educate newcomers that in Canada, this is simply not true.
At this time, we need everyone to participate in their local community and put their best foot forward, so that our nation, Canada, will feel like a home, rather than a house. As a step in the right direction, our generation must confront the shame and tragedy of racism, in order to end the marginalization of Indigenous women. Newcomers from South Asia and other parts of the world, especially those of us who are visible minorities, can play a role in raising awareness this International Women’s Day.

As a step in the right direction, our generation must confront the shame and tragedy of racism, in order to end the marginalization of Indigenous women.

Let’s make International Women’s Day this March 8, 2018 a successful one by engaging immigrants to take action and transform the lives of Indigenous women!


Aboriginal, Anti-Racism, culture, Diversity, EAL, Filipino, First Nations and Metis, From Many Peoples Strength, immigrant, Immigration, Indigenous Peoples, MCoS, multicultural, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, multiculturalism, Newcomer, Partnership, Refugee, refugee family, saskatchewan, volunteer, TRC, reconciliationJaspal Gill is a lawyer at Arnot Heffernan Slobodian Law Office in Prince Albert. She carries on a general practice in all areas of law, with a particular interest on Criminal Law and Family Law. Jaspal also often conducts hearings of landlords and tenants disputes in Saskatchewan as a Hearing officer with the Office of Residential Tenancies. She has a diverse background which includes volunteering and community involvement. She is on the Development Appeals Board of the City of Prince Albert, the Board of Directors of YWCA Prince Albert and Prince Albert Multicultural Council.
 

The Saskatchewan History & Folklore Society (SHFS) issued a news release today that points out the resistance by many to accept the true impact of the settler society, particularly its impact on Indigenous peoples. The release notes the important role historians and folklorists play in reconciliation efforts, through ensuring that the history of Canada, and in particular the prairies, includes and reflects the experiences of First Nations and Métis people.

The release follows a February 23 op-ed piece about reconciliation in the Leader-Post by Keith Thor Carlson, president of SHFS’ board of directors.

Saturday, June 23, 2018 | 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
La Troupe do Jour , 914 20th Street West, Saskatoon, SK
This year’s MCoS AGM will focus on reconciliation, BRIDGES, and member consultation regarding a new strategic plan. It is a deeper learning opportunity for everyone. We will provide our members how to showcase cultural activities through deeper learning with an interactive series of presentations.
Click here for: Full details and registration


Board Nominations

The MCoS Board has the following positions open for nominations: (1) President, (1) Vice-President, (1) Treasurer, (1) Secretary, and (4) Directors at Large.
Remember: In order for an applicant’s nomination to be promoted to the membership it must be received by Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
Click here for: Full details and nominations


We look forward to celebrating our successes with you. We welcome your input and involvement.