Bula Ghost speaks at the MCoS AGM with Kelsey Atceinson and Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro sitting to her right.

Laying the groundwork for real change

According to Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro — one of the panelists exploring how multiculturalism is entangled with colonialism at the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan’s AGM on June 22 — conversations about this intersection could take years to fully realize.

“The entanglements between multiculturalism and colonialism are something that we could talk about for exactly a week or more, maybe a year, because it’s such a huge entanglement,” she told the bustling room at La Troupe de Jour in Saskatoon, adding that multiculturalism exists because of a colonial state.

When asked what multiculturalism being entangled with colonialism means to her, she noted that binary thinking regarding colonialism is itself an element of colonialism.

“When people think decolonization, they mean ‘all the Europeans have to leave, Land back, we’re going back to pre-contact’ or something like that. Right?” Castro said, noting that, in reality, it’s about untying and dismantling European perspectives.

“What we mean when we say decolonization, is actually a world in where many world views can co-exist.

“The colonial thinking is having one dominant, invisible culture that we call the norm … and then kind of like, appreciating and consuming other cultures. Whereas what we’re thinking here, is kind of decentering British colonialism.

“If we are talking about colonialism as a process based on power, right? How can we think about a form of multiculturalism where people are not just invited to share their culture, but where we are actually sharing power.”

This idea of sharing power then takes multiculturalism from a place of having one central, visible culture. At the same time, others are presented as spectacles rather than having cultures co-exist in the same society. Another key she noted, referencing Eugene Arcand’s prayer and teachings about reconciliation at the start of the day, is honoring authentic acts of reconciliation.

“We do have responsibilities towards reconciliation, and reconciliation is not possible without truth and justice,” she said, noting that next year will be ten years since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s 94 Calls to Justice.

“We are accountable to those calls to action,” Valle-Castro said, adding that they serve as a road map to follow.

“Really, [we have] to remember those were not documents to sit on a desk or just to be a declaration of intentions.”

Eugene Arcand, speaking at MCoS’ AGM in Saskatoon, shares his thoughts about reconciliation in Canada after starting the event off in a good way with a prayer.

The Role of Authentic Reconciliation: Digging to the Root

As Kelsey Aitcheson, MCoS’ Regina ICARE Coordinator and fellow panelist, was driving to the AGM venue, she was busy thinking about something Arcand had mentioned in his opening prayer and comments.

“I am seeing a lot of our houseless kin out on the street, and 90 percent of them, if not more, are Indigenous,” Aitcheson — an urban member of the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation — said.

She’s often invited into these spaces, she noted, because an Indigenous perspective is required. She added she’s usually a tick in a check box for multicultural organizations.

“I am happy to share my experience. However, I … always have more questions than I do have answers. This is how we figure things out,” she added.

“How many times have you been in the presence of an Indigenous person because it was required through work? How many times have you taken the time to get to know Indigenous people within your community? How many times have you asked an Indigenous person to re-traumatize themselves so that you can understand?” she asked.

“I should also say, driving down 20th [Street] seeing all of the names of the buildings that have been changed to Indigenous words, I’m going to guess most of them are Cree — we are not all Cree — also I don’t have my language. You can change the name of a harm reduction facility to something Indigenous, a medical clinic to something Indigenous, a methadone clinic to something Indigenous; what is the root of the reason why you have to change a name to something Indigenous because it’s serving our community?” she asked.

She said that is where entanglements, reconciliation, and decolonization begin. Getting to the root of the problem, she noted, is vital.

“Why are 90 percent plus of our people out on the streets sleeping with tarps and dirty blankets right now? It’s deeper than that. We’re deeper than that.

“I’m educated, I’m very fortunate I have that privilege. However, there are people out on our street that have more education and experience than I do, but they are not welcome into this space because of who they are. I’m welcome into this space because I have a mother who is Indigenous who fought her … a** off to be taken serious professional, so that I can do the same.”

It’s questions and thinking patterns like those, she hoped, that got people to think about what change needs to happen.

Rhonda Rosenberg and Lisa Washinton sitting at a table, dark curtains behind them, as the busy table discusses different ways to disentangle colonization from multiculturalism.

Rhonda Rosenberg (MCoS Executive Director) and Lisa Washinton (former Board Director) pictured here at the 2024 AGM Education session in Saskatoon on June 22.

Using multiculturalism to share power with others

After Valle-Castro laid the groundwork for their discussion and Aitcheson shared a deeply personal presentation, Bula Ghosh said she wanted to talk about the entanglement of multiculturalism with colonialism from the perspective of an immigrant.

“I came from India, which was a [British] colony for 200 years … and even after 75 years of being independent,” she said, noting that British colonialism practices are sometimes ingrained into Indian culture.

“When I go to India now and see all these modern stores and departmental stores, the people serving are expected, women particularly, are expected to dress up in the western way: pants, and shirts, and jackets.

“This is not India.”

It’s a way, Ghosh explained, taking on colonial practices in an effort to gain the power present in a British Colonial society.

“I remember having a conversation in Edmonton with a family that came from Bangladesh,” she said. “And she was mentioning the pictures that she sees about Indigenous people, how it was scary to be out there,” Ghosh said, noting the often-negative portrayals of Indigenous people newcomers to Canada are often consuming.

“That’s what they said to me … and I had a big discussion with them at that time because I was getting slowly knowledgeable about the history of Canada, and how a certain group was oppressed.”

And while she notes that there have been improvements — the media doesn’t report the race of those committing crimes as often — here in Canada, we’re still not able to call ourselves a three-nation country of Indigenous, British, and French people.

“We have to fight for that.”

“We all have to be able to do things to make a difference, that reconciliation is our goal, but that will not happen without accepting the truth, working on it, and really showing it in our life,” she said, again the panel quoting Arcand.

She notes as an anecdote as she draws her talk to a close about a little comic hanging in her office. It features an HR Hiring Committee sharing thoughts about who should be hired: to find someone who looks diverse but thinks like us. In a nutshell, she says, this concept explains the idea of multiculturalism being entwined with colonialism.

“We have to use multiculturalism to share our power, it’s all about power and oppression … [and] reconciliation will never happen unless that economic power, the land, the resources are shared.”

MCoS' 2024 AGM Recap

On Saturday, June 22, we gathered together at La Troupe de Jour in Saskatoon for our Annual General Meeting. We had a wonderful day filled with meaningful education, authentic connection, and celebration of multiculturalism in Saskatchewan!

Thank you to our panelists, Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro, Kelsey Aitcheson, and Bula Ghosh, for sharing your thoughts on how we can detangle multiculturalism from colonialism. You can read more about the interactive panel and discussion HERE.

A huge thank you to all the outgoing board members, Meka Okochi, David Camarador, Lisa Washinton, and Saqib Khan, whose expertise on the Board of Directors will be sorely missed. We wish you all the best in the future!

And congratulations to MCoS’ Board of Directors for the 2024-25 year!

  • Jessica Amadi — President
  • Anthony Olusola — Vice-President
  • Cosanna Preston-Idedia — Past President
  • Margot Hurlbert — Treasurer
  • Tenisha Inengi — Secretary
  • Harmonie King — Director-at-Large
  • Kinikinik (Nick) Bage — Director-at-Large
  • Dr Shela Hirani​ — Director-at-Large
  • Dr. Justina Ndubuka​ — Director-at-Large
  • Mahnaz Robertson — Director-at-Large
  • Ziyang Li​ — Director-at-Large

In her acceptance speech after being acclaimed as MCoS’ President on June 22, Jessica Amadi thanked outgoing board members and welcomed those recently elected.

Jessica Amadi, MCoS President (left) pictured with Tenisha Inengi, MCoS Secretary (right)

“I’m proud to have worked alongside such dedicated board members and, of course, staff. I already miss those whose terms have come to an end, and I’m equally excited to welcome our new board members and to continue MCoS mission and vision,” Amadi said.

“My journey with MCoS has been incredibly rewarding … I have seen firsthand the remarkable impact we’ve had on Saskatchewan’s communities, from the launching of our ICARE program, to the diligent work in succession planning that this board has done, in education, in community engagement: MCoS stands as a beacon for positive change.”

On her election as President, she said, “Once again, thank you for your confidence in me; I look forward to continuing our journey together and working towards an inclusive and connected Saskatchewan.”

To learn more about all the exciting work MCoS did during our 2023-24 year, you can read our full Annual Report HERE!

“Entanglements: Questions about Multiculturalism and Colonialism” Interactive Zoom Discussion – June 5, 2024 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm on Zoom 

Join us for a conversation about how multiculturalism is tangled up with colonialism. Panelists will share what this entanglement means to them. Participants will discuss the ideas in small breakout groups, and have an opportunity to raise questions for further exploration.

This session is for MCoS Members and Partners only. Register HERE. The Zoom link will be sent after registration is received.   

Panelists

  • Bula Ghosh
  • Kelsey Aitcheson
  • Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro

Bula Ghosh (she/her)

Bula Ghosh works as a Program Coordinator at Great Plains College in Swift Current. She immigrated to Canada from India in 1981 and has been involved provincially and regionally in settlement. She strongly advocates for newcomers to Canada, multiculturalism, women’s issues, literacy learners, and all vulnerable people in our society. As a result of her growing awareness of the issues confronting Indigenous peoples –historically and currently – Bula organized a one-day event entitled “Truth and Reconciliation: Let’s Walk the Talk.” She gathered Indigenous and non-Indigenous committee members, found funding and community support and served as the master of ceremonies for the day. She continues to organize this event annually.

Kelsey Aitcheson (she/they)

As an urban member of the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation, Kelsey has spent her lifetime advocating for equality.  She is the local Regina facilitator for the Intercultural Connections and Anti-Racism Engagement (ICARE) program for the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS). In addition, she facilitates anti-racism youth leadership workshops. After the birth of her second child, Kelsey attended the First Nations University of Canada, double majoring in Psychology and Indigenous Studies. Kelsey shares her Two-Eyed Seeing perspective from a place of emotional connection, as well as experience and education.

 

Dr. Manuela Valle-Castro (She/her)
Dr. Valle-Castro is originally from Chile and has Mestiza (Spanish-Italian and Afro-Indigenous) background. She holds a Ph.D. in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from the same university. She coordinated the Anti-Racism Network, and under this capacity, she led coalition-building and advocacy work with various actors, including Indigenous and settler organizations and agencies. She is also a mother of two and a resident of the core neighbourhood.

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to register for “Identifying the Spaces We Hold: An Anti-Racism Conversation and Online Community Forum”

In this interactive panel discussion, we will recognize systemic racism in the spaces where we live, work, and play. Panelists will share their knowledge and experiences in making space for others and themselves, and holding space for difficult conversations. Participants will gain a better understanding of how to navigate institutions towards equity.

We are grateful for contributions from the event Moderator, Janelle Pewapsconias and Panelists Rissy Hantke, Lori Whiteman, and Jayna Amadasun.

 

Janelle “ecoaborijanelle” Pewapsconias – Moderator

Janelle “ecoaborijanelle” Pewapsconias (iskwew, s/her) is a Spoken Word Poet, Social Innovator, and arts educator based in the Treaty Lands now known as Little Pine First Nation, Treaty 6 Territory on Saskatchewan. As a mother, she continues the spoken word custom of the nehīyaw through poetry and spoken word art virtually, right from her home community. Her approach to the arts an offering of anti-racist, decolonizing, and safe(r) space. Her artistic style and perspective speaks from the experience of a rez-based Indigenous femme, but reminds does not represent all Indigenous people to Turtle Island.

 

Laura (Lori) Whiteman – Panelist 

Lori is a facilitator, coach and educational consultant based in Treaty 4 Territory (Regina). She is a Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation band member in Saskatchewan.

Lori has worked as an educational leader and facilitator in Indigenous communities, non-profit organizations, and education systems. She is passionate about supporting groups and organizations to discover their power in addressing complex challenges. She is passionate about early literacy, Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous education, anti-racist education and community-building.

She is a consultant in her company, Braid, and a Facilitation Associate and Trainer with ICA Associates, an international facilitation training and consulting company.

She is currently serving as President of the Board of Directors of the Regina Early Learning Centre and as an Indigenous Advisor to the RCMP Depot Commanding Officer’s Advisory Committee. An achievement Lori takes great pride in being part of is the establishment of a stone medicine wheel called the Place of Reflection. The stone circle was installed in 2015, with stones marking the many Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada (MMIWG). The Place of Reflection hosts an annual cycle of learning events through a partnership with the RCMP Heritage Centre.

Lori is honoured to be Mom to two daughters, a son in law, and Koko to 5 grandchildren who all make their home in Regina.

 

Jayna Amadasun – Panelist 

Jayna is a Solution-Focused Professional Coach, Speaker, and Author of the 7-Week Journal: Passion & Purpose. As the Founder of Ember Impact Global, Jayna is passionate about helping to inspire, empower, and impact women through a coaching partnership where each woman has the potential to experience transformational results personally and professionally.

Jayna provides access to guiding principles and tools which foster an ecosystem where women can freely explore, engage in self-discovery, embrace the vast possibilities that emerge and curate a life that aligns with their values and goals. As a passionate speaker, she eloquently articulates difficult conversations around the discourse of racial discrimination specifically

towards internationally trained Black medical professionals and epistemic (in)justice which represent the expansion of work done through her dissertation.

She spent almost two decades as a healthcare professional before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey. Jayna is a Rotarian and serves as secretary of the Community Services Subcommittee of her club. Her dedication to the advancement of women is seen through her appointment as one of the Board of Directors for Black Canadian Women in Action. She values lifelong learning and finds enjoyment in cooking, travelling and watching low budget romantic comedies. She is a wife and mother passionate about her family and excited about new possibilities emerging in her life.

 

Sharissa (Rissy) Unger Hantke – Panelist

Sharissa Hantke, RN, M.Ed., is a white settler nurse and educator located on Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon.

She develops content and teaches in community and university settings, including undergraduate teacher education, nursing, professional development, and faculty education. In 2021, she completed a master’s degree in educational foundations at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of anti-racism expert Dr. Verna St. Denis.

Sharissa seeks to work for racial justice by learning about her complicity in colonialism and her responsibility to push for a critical antiracist lens in education.

 

 

 

Please enjoy this panel discussion hosted by the Regina Public Library. This is an important conversation with four community leaders, hosted by Rhonda Rosenberg from the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan.

This panel discusses the barriers women face in our community and what we can do about it. Panelists include Jamiy Moran from the North Central Family Centre, Joana Valamootoo from Creative Options Regina, Rania Al Harthi from Regina Immigrant Women’s Centre, and Christine Boyczuk from Age Friendly Moose Jaw.

 

Visit https://mcos.ca/events/black-history-month/ for a list of events, resources, and info about the ACBHM.

As well as https://sachm.org/virtual-museum/ to see learn more about the history of accomplishments of African-Canadian’s across the province!

Reminder: Our upcoming book club meeting is in one week!

Date: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23

Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Location: Zoom

This month’s read is
Conversations In Black: On Power, Politics, and Leadership by Ed Gordon.

Important: The meeting Zoom link will be made available in the Between the Pages, Speak Up! Facebook group prior to our meeting start time. If you don’t have Facebook, please email Risa at ic***@mc**.ca to receive the Zoom meeting link directly.

Join our Facebook Book Club group Here

MCoS is excited to announce the nominees for the 2022 Multicultural Honours Awards.

These awards are given every year to celebrate and honour the multicultural contributions

made by our nominees.

#SKStrong #FromManyPeoplesStrengths #TogetherWeMakeSaskatchewanStrong

 

Multicultural Youth Leadership Award

for promising contributions from people 29 years and under.

Congratulations to our nominees:

Darian Agecoutay

 

Amir Said

 

 

 

Saskatchewan Multicultural Leadership Award

for outstanding contributions to multiculturalism in Saskatchewan. Priority will be given to nominees who have demonstrated sustained periods of commitment in their contributions.

Congratulations to our nominees:

Dr. Shela Hirani

 

Lyndon J. Linklater

 

 

 Click here to view and download the Honours Program

 

In celebration of Saskatchewan Multicultural Week many cities, towns, and villages have shown their support and proclaimed November 19 – 27, 2022 as ‘Multicultural Week’ in their areas. Below you’ll find a list of participating communities.

Town of Assiniboia

Town of Battleford

Town of Birch Hills

Resort Village of Candle Lake

Village of Christopher Lake

City of Estevan

Resort Village of Island View

Town of Lumsden

Town of Nipawin

City of Prince Albert

City of Regina

Province of Saskatchewan

City of Swift Current

MULTICULTURAL WEEK 2022

From November 19-27, Help us celebrate Saskatchewan Multicultural Week!

#TogetherWeMakeSaskatchewanStrong #SKStrong