Growing Focus on Diversity and Inclusiveness
SaskCulture has always had multiculturalism as part of its mandate, but a renewed urgency was required to help organizations adjust, and ensure dollars from the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation were contributing to a culturally inclusive province. By the end of 2014, SaskCulture had released a Multicultural Inclusiveness Strategy, later renamed Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy and increased its investments in the Multicultural Initiative Fund (MIF) and other diversity initiatives.
In 2015, as part of this strategy, SaskCulture provided Diversity Planning training to several of the eligible cultural organizations, who worked with Flo Frank, of Common Ground Consulting, on plans to support more diversity into the future. As of 2019, all eligible organizations had completed this training.
Funding also went to support innovative programs, such as the Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement in Saskatchewan (BRIDGES) program and INVOLVE -Integrating Newcomers with Volunteer Opportunities to build Leadership Value through Education (organized by the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan and other partners). In addition, several sessions of Aboriginal Awareness Training delivered by John Lagimodiere were provided to various members groups and volunteers. In 2016, a few SaskCulture staff had received training in Intercultural Development Inventory and engaged all staff in personal assessments in 2017, and again in 2018. SaskCulture also administered the inventory to the SaskCulture board staff members from its partner SPRA and plans to offer the service to others as requested.
Following the release of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report in June 2015, SaskCulture published a special feature of ENGAGE outlining the Calls to Action, and SaskCulture’s encouragement that cultural groups get involved, as well as articles on programs and services currently in place. At SaskCulture’s 2016 Membership Consultation & AGM, SaskCulture invited Lyndon Linklater, from the Treaty Commissioners Office, who gave a very well-received presentation on Treaties with a connection to reconciliation. In 2017, SaskCulture invited Eugene Arcand and Zondra Roy, as part of a Heritage Week program, to speak with SaskCulture staff and community members about the impact of residential schools and healing. Going forward, training focused on building diversity and inclusiveness skills and organizational strategies remains a key focus for SaskCulture.
From 2016-2017 and early 2018, SaskCulture coordinated Reconciliation and Respect: Canada 150 and Beyond, funded by Canadian Heritage through the Canada 150 fund, which was aimed at creating long-term partnerships with Buffalo People Arts Institute, Gabriel Dumont Institute, Saskatchewan indigenous Cultural Centre, Saskatchewan Aboriginal Writers’ Circle Inc. and Saskatchewan Arts Board. The partnership focused on the resilience of Indigenous peoples, cultures and languages, opportunities for partnership and growth and supporting positive changes needed in communities and cultural organizations in this province.
In 2017 and 2018, SaskCulture partnered on a couple of initiatives aimed at supporting anti-racism strategies. In July 2017, SaskCulture partnered with Sâkêwêwak Artists Collective, Saskatchewan Writers Guild and Saskatchewan Arts Board to host a panel presentation on Cultural Appropriation in Regina. The following year, in July 2018, SaskCulture and its partners Saskatchewan Writers Guild, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan and Common Weal, continued to encourage dialogue by hosting a second panel discussion called Let’s Talk Racism: Navigating Safe Discussions on Racism, held in Saskatoon, and live-streamed to Regina, Prince Albert, Yorkton, and Red Deer, AB.
SaskCulture continues to support the diversity strategies of funding recipients. Besides its diversity focused funding programs, SaskCulture also added a focus on Truth and Reconciliation to its Culture Days Hub Sponsorships. Partnerships with Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre on the Indigenous Languages Initiative in 2018-19 to the partnership with Gabriel Dumont Institute on the Métis Cultural Development Fund 2019 to present, SaskCulture continues to work directly with its Indigenous partners to ensure funding is meeting the needs of these communities.