Inspiring Diversity and Inclusion Continues
It’s no secret that Saskatchewan’s demographics are changing – not only in urban centres, but in rural locations as well. According to noted economist David Foote, co-author of Boom, Bust & Echo, by 2026, Canada will have more old people than young people. And, thanks to an influx of newcomers over the past 10 years, along a growing number of First Nations and Métis youth each year, the youth demographic needed to sustain our workforce in Saskatchewan will be very culturally diverse.
Are cultural organizations ready to address this change? SaskCulture continues to be committed to inclusiveness of all cultures. From its Board make-up, to its funding juries and staff, SaskCulture has made significant efforts to ensure it is reflecting the community it serves. It has also continued to urge cultural groups in the province to be mindful that their programs and services are inclusive and accessible to the changing needs of Saskatchewan residents.
“There is a growing understanding that being inclusive is not about just getting more funding to add a new program,” explains Dean Kush, assistant general manager, SaskCulture. “It’s about ensuring that your leadership represents the diversity of the community you serve. It also means reviewing your policies, programs and services to reduce any barriers to participation for people from different cultural backgrounds.” Barriers may include things such as language, family commitments, mixed sex facilities, as well as racism.
Since beginning a more formal process back in 2013, SaskCulture has now supported 15 cultural organizations through a Diversity Planning process, led by Flo Frank of Common Ground Consulting. Other initiatives over the past year include: several Aboriginal Awareness Training Sessions for members; continued funding of diverse community cultural programs through the Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Leadership program (AACL), the Métis Cultural Development Fund (MCDF) and the Multicultural Initiatives Fund (MIF); work with Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCoS) and the Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration Agencies (SAISIA) on an Integration Forum; support for an Aboriginal Engagement Conference hosted by Association of Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan (AFCS); as well as sponsorship of the annual Aboriginal Language Keepers Conference put on by the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC).
SaskCulture also devoted an issue of Engage to highlighting the importance of the Calls to Action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Final Report. “Of the 94 Calls to Action outlined by the TRC, a significant number land squarely on matters pertaining specifically to ‘culture’,” explains Kush. “The issue of Engage challenged cultural groups – and others – to be aware and consider how they can become part of the reconciliation process.”