We had a Multiculturalism Week
Article: Aidian Macnab – Contributor
The provincial government has proclaimed Nov. 16-24 as Saskatchewan Multiculturalism Week, certified and recognized by Kevin Doherty, Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport in the Province of Saskatchewan.
What is Multiculturalism Week? It is a commemoration and celebration of the 1974 passing of the Multiculturalism Act. The Saskatchewan legislation was the first of its kind passed in Canada and was replaced in 1997 to better include the contributions of Aboriginal and Metis Canadians.
The Legislation had four stated purposes: “to recognize that the diversity of Saskatchewan people … is a fundamental characteristic of Saskatchewan society,” “to encourage respect for the multicultural heritage of Saskatchewan,” “to foster a climate for harmonious relations among people,” and “to encourage the continuation of a multicultural society.”
The act was passed nearly forty years ago, but its vision for the province is being kept alive by the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCOS).
Rhonda Rosenburg is the Executive Director of MCOS, which is putting on Multiculturalism Week. Her council’s main purpose is to “promote the benefits of multiculturalism in all aspects of life in Saskatchewan … cultural, social political [and] economic.”
Rosenburg’s council is proudly responsible for being a part of the choosing of Saskatchewan’s provincial motto “From many people’s strength.”
An objective of Multiculturalism Week is to promote awareness to issues related to different cultures living amongst one another in the province. A cause that is necessary, given the existence of some unfortunate myths in the realm of multiculturalism.
One very prevalent myth, says Rosendburg, is new immigrants are “taking our jobs.”
“These days it’s not even just being embraced by the typical old immigrant set, and it’s being embraced by relatively new immigrants as well, and also in the First Nations community, because unemployment is a serious issue in First Nations and Metis communities.”
Rosenburg believes that these concerns are unfounded and says that there are too many jobs and not enough immigrants for these claims to hold any weight. She also claims that new immigrants typically are going for the type of low-wage service industry jobs that Canadians are “not aspiring to fill.”
Why does Saskatchewan need a Multiculturalism council? In Rosenburg’s opinion, it’s not enough to just have many different cultures here in the province, we need to build “inter-cultural relationships” between them, and promote “some of the new and smaller ethno-cultural groups … in continuing their own cultures.”
Multiculturalism Week commenced with an honors ceremony at Government House Nov. 16, hosted by the Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Schofield.
Renu Kapoor took home the 2013 Betty Szuchewycz Award. Renu, according to MCOS’s website, is a participant in many multicultural events and active volunteer for organizations like SaskCulture, United Way, and the Regina Public library, among others.
The 2013 Multicultural Youth Leadership Award went to Julianne Beaudin-Herney, a young activist and artist. Last year the Carillon reported that Beaudin-Herney was instrumental for a petition to try and make Indigenous History mandatory for all University of Regina undergrads.
Multicultural week is over until next year. However, MCOS’s work to promote the idea that multiculturalism enriches the province carries on.