Multicultural Awards Honour Multicultural Superheroes
Multicultural Honours Awards Event and Recipients
On November 16, 2019, the multicultural community gathered at Government House for MCoS Multicultural Honours to recognize significant contributions made by the Saskatchewan community. Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, Honourable Russ Mirasty hosted the event. The Multicultural Week is launched annually with the Multicultural Honours Awards. Community engagement campaigns are active throughout November.
The event started with the Master of Ceremony, Executive Director, Lieutenant Governor’s Office, Heather Salloum, acknowledging that we are on Treaty 4 territory and Motherland of the Métis Nation. Elder Archie Weenie shared an opening blessing, and his wisdom on the importance of healing from wounds of the past, respectful, and meaningful shared experiences to define our collective future.
In his opening remarks, Lieutenant Governor, Russ Mirasty, emphasized the importance of cultural continuity. He stressed the damage done by policies and practices that repress culture, language, and tradition – people lose their sense of identity and self-worth. In contrast, he recognized the contributions of all nominees as leading the way to understanding and appreciating each other’s cultures and traditions. He concluded by acknowledging MCoS’ strong, inspiring multicultural leadership in the province and presented greetings on behalf of her majesty Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II in Cree, his first language.
The Honourable Gene Makowsky, Minister for Parks, Culture and Sport recognized that the award presentation is a reflection of our collective desire to build Saskatchewan by increasing avenues for inclusion and diversity. In particular, he mentioned the Ministry was impressed with the Multicultural Youth Leadership Award nominees already involved in multicultural work. He said they are certainly the future of the province. Neeraj Saroj, President, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan concluded the speeches by celebrating volunteers who have devoted skill and time to multiculturalism in Saskatchewan. It was a moment of sober reflection as Neeraj Saroj stated that MCoS Multicultural Honours was especially significant on the anniversary of the execution of Louis Riel, someone we now recognize as a Multicultural Superhero.
Zane Buchanan, the 2019 Saskatchewanderer, shared his insights from his journey to self-discovery and his experience as a Saskatchewanderer. Some of the culturally immersive events he attended this year include a Tipi Building Competition at the U of R, Kâniyâsihk Cree Culture Camps with the Fort Qu’Appelle Learning from the Land Class, and the Two-Spirit powwow at Beardy’s Okemasis Cree Nation. He reiterates that as we welcome new cultures into our province with open arms, we contribute to its growth as many newcomers make major contributions to agriculture, trade and export economies.
While introducing the Multicultural Youth Leadership Award category, Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU), President, Bob Bymoen explained how organizations could take positive steps to implement multicultural policies, using SGEU as an example. He highlighted Fostering Acceptance of Indigenous Rights (FAIR) committee that reviews policies to ensure that at all times SGEU is adhering to the inclusion and diversity policy. Through this committee, SGEU also reaches out to organizations like MCoS who are involved in multicultural work within the province. The awards nominees were Nicholas Bage, student, Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP), Jinhong Chen, student, Sheldon-Williams Collegiate, Jiazhi Ding, student, University of Saskatchewan Friends of Falun Gong Association, and Golden Njoku, Canahari Multidisciplinary Summer Program (CMSP).
Nicholas Bage humbly accepted the award. Nicholas utilizes the power of storytelling to share his Métis heritage, culture and perspective as seen in his collaboration with Heritage Saskatchewan to create Saskatchewan Métis Road Allowance Memories. Since becoming a member of ACT in grade nine, his high school anti-racism group, he has lead workshops teaching methods of identifying and combating racism in all form. He helped to organize and facilitate retreats for both elementary and high school aged students. As a university student, he has always made himself available to facilitate workshops and has been very instrumental in helping youth understand colonization through the “gentle” facilitation of the Blanket Exercise. Students are attracted to his non-judgmental approach. Nick’s outstanding leadership is clear in these activities as well Pink Shirt Day, and Orange Shirt Day. He will receive $500.
Awards Nominees and Recipients
Muna De Ciman, MCoS Director and Recognition Committee Chair introduced the Betty Szuchewycz award. The four nominees were Nelson Eng, Chinese Freemasons and more, Haris Khan, Award-winning Comedian, and Humanitarian, Sandy Wankel, Founder, North Central Family Centre (NCFC), and Westminster United Church, Westminster Outreach Committee (Sheila Dowling, Barbara Wickstrom, Tannis Mark, Darrell Reine and Carol Olson).
A visibly shocked Sandy Wankel won the Betty Szuchewycz Award. Sandy began the North Central Family Centre (NCFC) eighteen years ago with a vision to empower youth, families and the North Central community. Her goal was to open a safe, respectful and welcoming centre for children after school and for community members. The Centre creates opportunities for First Nations and Métis cultural practices, including a ribbon skirt-sewing club and Indigenous Elders. Under her leadership, diverse staff, volunteers, students, and community members work together with respect and collaboration. Sandy values partnerships and fosters those that contribute to community wellness. She has directed the $500 donation to North Central Family Centre as her charity of choice. Both recipients also receive Jacqueline Berting framed glass prairie lilies.
In addition to the celebrations, the event is a reminder that each individual owes it to themselves, the community and future generations to contribute to multiculturalism and diversity. While the week runs November 16-24 in 2019, MCoS runs the Who is Your Multicultural Superhero? campaign throughout November to encourage sharing. Everyone in Saskatchewan is encouraged to identify and celebrate whoever has made an impact.
In conclusion, MCoS appreciates the over 11,079 volunteers who contributed over 218,343 hours of time in 2018-19 – making them multicultural superheroes! These volunteers view the world from different and refreshing perspectives that ultimately benefit all.
Saskatchewan Multicultural Week is an annual celebration in recognition that Saskatchewan was the first province to enact multiculturalism legislation in 1974.
Celebrate Saskatchewan Multicultural Week
We celebrate Saskatchewan Multicultural Week to recognize that in 1974, Saskatchewan was the first province to enact multiculturalism legislation. Responsibility for the Act resides with the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. Learn more & view the Act: http://mcos.ca/saskatchewan-multicultural-week/
We also celebrate through the campaign: Who’s Your Multicultural Superhero? Tell us and Celebrate Saskatchewan Multicultural Week all November. Use #MulticulturalSuperhero on social media. This campaign outlines successful examples of leaders being able to inspire others through their values, beliefs and actions. Learn more about the campaign: http://mcos.ca/multiculturalsuperhero