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Cultural collaborations through mindful creative writing course

“We live in a world that is divided. We build judgements and create stereotypes about people we do not know. Even though we often live, work and learn beside each other – we do not really know each other. When we know each other and really listen to each other’s stories or experience, we can then come to learn from each other,” explains educator Kyla McIntyre, laying down the reasoning for the Sheldon-Williams Collegiate Mindful Creative Writing course, designed to shift this narrative.
There are 14 students in this class. They come from many different cultures and languages. Some are newcomers and some are born in Canada. Some speak fluent English and others are just

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Sheldon-Williams Collegiate Mindful Creative Writing Course. Student and Poet Mays Al Jamous shares her work with the class.


beginning. This course actively encourages students of different backgrounds to come together to share their stories of experience with each other. One of the main goals of this course is to support belonging and inclusion, facilitating intercultural connections. Throughout this course, students learned about their own stories and were given tools to share them with others. Instead of learning about culture and diversity from books and the internet, students learn from each other and create relationships. The process of creative writing and practicing mindfulness each day forms a community of learners.
A Multicultural Education Initiatives grant from MCoS partially supports spoken word artist Cat Abenstein to work with this class. She is a weekly presence and supports students through all phases of their writing from drafting, editing, sharing and even performing in front of the school. Cat uses her professional artist experience to support students to truly find and share their voices.
Grade 11 student, Amie LeGrand, reflects upon the impact of the mindful creative writing course: “In creative writing, we talk about the culture of everyone in the class and get to know each other and what they have experienced. We talk about the uncomfortable topics and write about them in poems, songs and speeches – this opens our minds. The work that I have seen from my classmates is astounding. To have such students at Sheldon just shows how multicultural we are as a school and that we are more unified than we realize… I’ve learned that fear or uncertainty creates prejudice and this leads to the act of discrimination, by learning about each other this is where we can end discrimination.”
During the school’s March 21 celebration, students share the work they have created in class and this ripples through the school community to create true inclusion and belonging. Students have an opportunity to hear stories of experience from cultures they likely would not otherwise hear. These students also share their work at a school celebration attended by over 500 students. The media is invited to this event as well and then their stories are shared worldwide. Some of the poems were recorded for CBC and then played over the radio. In addition, many students have shared work created in this class at other events such as reconciliation events, a Settlement Support Workers in Schools (SSWIS) conference and an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher’s conference. In addition, in 2017, the students published a book with Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC) – so the work that is developed in the course becomes part of the community.


Student Poetry

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Sheldon-Williams Collegiate – Mindful Creative Writing Course Poets featured below. L-R: Amie LeGrand, Mays Al Jamous and Sunny Sun.

Do you want to know Mays Al Jamous?
By Amie LeGrand

What should I tell you about her?
The girl who has beautiful almond skin?
How would I describe her?
Would you like to get to know her?
Her kindness is known and shared to all
With her smile that makes everyone’s heart bounce with joy and delight.
She has bravery in her.
She may be soft spoken but what lays within her is a dangerous fire.
She has seen death by gunfire when people tried to hide and take cover.
She heard bombs and high-pitched screams when air fleets targeted her home streets.
Her experience and story of her life there has wise words with a ray of light for guidance and hope.
She now lives in Canada, eh!
With Saskatchewan’s flat grounds and minus fifty below weather.
Does she truly love the snowy weather?
Who the hell knows.
She will always miss Syria
Memories filled with love
She dreams of her bright future with a medical degree
And her children playing by her family tree Now that her country is now free
Now that I’ve told you about her
Would you like to know more
From the one, the only, Mays Al Jamous?

Being a Refugee
By Mays Al Jamous

Every person has a different experience
I can only share my experience
I am from Syria
I am a refugee
Refugees are
People who leave their countries
People who don’t have homes
People who face difficult choices
Refugees feel
Frightened
Confused
Lonely
Refugees hope
People will understand their feelings
People will not judge them at first sight
People will treat them like human beings
This refugee has
Dreams and hopes like you do
Feelings and heart like you do
Family and friends like you do
This refugee wishes
There would be no racism
There would be no discrimination
There would be no hate
This refugee is asking you to
Be Understanding
Be Unafraid
Be Loving
Every person has a different experience
I shared my experience
I am Mays from Syria
I am a strong refugee

Newcomer Issues
By: Sunny Sun

Many people have asked me the same question
What is it like to be a newcomer?
This is an ordinary question, however, it’s complicated to answer
Canada is a wonderful place
Multiple cultures make Canada more attractive
However, there will always be some issues and challenges in our lives
I believe newcomers to Canada will be perplexed by plentiful issues
In the first few days, weeks, months, even years
Everyone gets shocked by things that are new to them
Our worldview collapses and shatters into pieces
We learn new social contracts
Things that we were familiar with are gone
New paradigms are formed
Ideologies that we were taught get inverted
Things that were right, now become wrong
The origin of these problems
Leads us to the main point
ENGLISH
I have heard people say that English
Is the reason why newcomers get isolated
I am in total agreement with this
I believe 99.99 percent of conflicts or issues are related to English
The process of learning a new language is a long journey for everyone
Without English, you can’t communicate and you won’t receive any information
Sometimes not having enough English
Makes me feel like I am in a cage
It locks me inside and separates the world from me
Another problem that I think lots of newcomers will face
Is wanting to stay with people who speak their first language
This is something really common and there’s nothing wrong with it
Meeting new people is difficult
No one wants to be pushed out of their comfort zone
But one day you will have to make a friend who is a Canadian
The quicker you meet new people
The quicker your English will improve
The quicker you will feel belonging
Your friends might correct your mistakes
But don’t be shy, take advantage
Isn’t that what friends are for?
Making friends stops the suffering, the endless loneliness
Everyone will be proud of you
You will be proud of yourself


Sheldon-Williams Collegiate Mindful Creative Writing Course Video

Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina, SK offers a Mindful Creative Writing Course. The program focuses on bringing youth from different backgrounds together to share their stories. Students use mindfulness to better understand themselves and the world around them. One of the main goals of the Mindful Creative Writing course is to help students gain a better understanding and make connections across different cultures.

 

Member Development Workshop: Governance and Board Succession Planning

The Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan strives to strengthen the capacity of its members by offering educational and training opportunities. To that end, we are offering a Member Development Workshop. Dawn Martin, from Daybreak Consulting, will share her expertise and experience on Governance and Board Succession Planning.
Dawn Martin has served in a range of capacities both in government and as a private consultant.  As a consultant, Dawn has spent 30 years assisting numerous agencies and non-profit organizations with strategic planning, performance measurement, governance and organizational development. Most recently, she has been working with SaskCulture as part of a pilot of its new Lifecycles Capacity Program for Cultural Organizations.
Dawn’s approach to governance issues in the voluntary sector is thoughtful and pragmatic.  She understands the issues and challenges that board volunteers face and is eager to provide organizations with guidance and support that will make a difference.
When Dawn is not working as a consultant supporting non-profit organizations, she works for the City of Regina as a specialist in strategic planning and performance measurement.


Workshop Details

Facilitator: Dawn Martin (Daybreak Consulting)
Date: August 31, 2018 (Friday)
Time: 10:00am -3:00pm
Location: George Bothwell Public Library, Program Room, 2965 Gordon Road , Regina (Fully accessible, Free Parking)
Fees: Members: $25 per person; Non-members: $50 per person (Registration fee includes workshop materials and lunch on location)
Registration closing date: August 24, 2018
Please note that the workshop is open to everybody; whether you are a board member, staff member or wish to attend in a private capacity.


Registration:

Please choose the Word form or the online form to register.
Payment can be made by cheque or online. If you register online, please note that you will need to go to our Online Store for payment after you submit your online registration form.
Member Development Workshop registration form (Word form)
Member Development Workshop registration form (Online form)

June is National Indigenous History Month

In June, Canadians celebrate National Indigenous History Month, an opportunity to honour the heritage, contributions and cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
On June 21, Canadians from all walks of life are invited to participate in the many National Indigenous Peoples Day events that will be taking place from coast to coast to coast. This is a special day toNational Aboriginal History Month, National Aboriginal Day, Indigenous, Aboriginal, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, MCoS celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. Learn about Governor General’s Proclamation.
In 2009, June was declared National Indigenous History Month, following the passing of a unanimous motion in the House of Commons.
National Indigenous History Month provides an opportunity to recognize not only the historic contributions of Indigenous peoples to the development of Canada, but also the strength of present-day Indigenous communities and their promise for the future.
Celebrating National Indigenous History Month in June is an important tribute to the heritage and diversity of First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada.
For more information and events visit: http://mcos.ca/indigenous-aboriginal-history-month/

Welcome Home 150 Pledge

Annually we recognize Canada’s anniversary. It is a perfect time to commit to the TRC Calls to Action and affirm our values of being welcoming and inclusive to all by taking the Welcome Home 150 Pledge – #WelcomeHome150
For more information: http://mcos.ca/welcome-150-pledge


Related Links

National Indigenous History Month
Celebrate Canada
Welcoming and Inclusive Communities
Welcome Home 150 Pledge
 

National Highway to Harmonious Canada Video

Multi-Faith Saskatchewan and Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan collaborated in the production of this 45-minute video to mark the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation. The project was supported by the Community Fund of Southern Saskatchewan as well as numerous cultural organizations, faith communities and volunteers. Access Communications donated its services in producing the video.
The main features of the video are the hopes and wishes by children of different faiths and cultural groups for a peaceful and harmonious Canada, silent prayers, cultural performances and the national anthem by all participants.
For more information about Multi-Faith Saskatchewan visit http://www.multifaithsask.org/. You can view the video embedded below and share it with your networks.



 

Join us for the Living Heritage Symposium!

Expanding on last year’s theme of “Sharing the Land,” presentations will focus on how we relate to the land in a changing world. By the age of seven each one of us has been immersed in a cultural milieu we inherit from previous generations. As we grow, our cultural perspective & worldview are adapted to meet changing needs and circumstances. Through interactive exercises, conversation and performance we will explore different cultural perspectives and contemporary values related to our understanding of place, our relationship with the land and how we care for the land that sustains us all. Creating a shared
future depends on it.

Sessions include:
• Conversation with Trevor Herriot, Saskatchewan based writer – naturalist – activist
• Discussion on Faith Perspectives on the Land
• Discussion on Values, Policy and the Land
• Performance by “Songwriting for Nature” artists
The cost to attend is $10.00 + GST. If you would like to attend but the registration fee is a barrier, please contact organizers for registration options.

Download Poster and Agenda:

Living Heritage Symposium – Poster & Agenda (pdf)

Online Registration:

https://secure.touchnet.net/C22138_ustores/web/classic/store_main.jsp?STOREID=95&clearPreview=true&SINGLESTORE=true

RMC and MCoS Offering Anti-Racism Workshop in ReginaMarch 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, MCoS, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, Racsim, Discrimination

This FREE anti-racism workshop is for high school students from Regina and surrounding area. Registration is limited, so be sure to register soon!
Date: Friday, April 20, 2018
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE
Location: Eastview Community Centre: 615 – 6th Avenue, Regina, SK
Register: Please download, fill out and return this form: Regina Anti-Racism Workshop Registration (doc)

A Rainbow of Culture in Rosthern

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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

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.
 

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.