The face of Saskatchewan is changing, and with it, the culture of the province.
Sask. Culture met with members of the Prince Albert community as part of a series of nine community consultations across the province. The organization is seeking community input on ways to create a more inclusive and diverse cultural sector in the province.
Dean Kush from Sask. Culture says that the consultations arose from a significant demographic shift in the number of First Nations and Métis youth, as well as the increase in immigration numbers throughout the province.
“We’re just talking to people to find out what they’re experiencing, and to help the cultural sector respond in an effective manner to these two demographic groups,” Kush said.
Kush says the goal of Sask. Culture is to build a new strategy of multiculturalism based on what they hear from the community.
“Once we find out what they are all saying, we can then start implementing a plan that would involve anything that would help our organization and the communities respond effectively to First Nations and Metis youth as well as to the thousands of newcomers coming to the province,” Kush said.
According to Alice Zhang of the Prince Albert Multicultural Council, the demographic shift is something that is becoming more noticeable in Prince Albert.
Originally from China, Zhang moved to Canada six years ago.
“When I came to P.A., I didn’t see a lot of Chinese people, or people from different nationalities,” Zhang said. “But recently I have really noticed more and more people coming here from different countries.”
Sask. Culture board member Pat Grayston says that people in the Prince Albert area are starting to take notice of the cultural shift that is occurring.
“People are realizing that things are changing,” Grayston said. “We are meeting a whole range of people here with different ethnicities. For a long time when it came to culture, we thought of things like Ukrainian dances and things from European culture. We didn’t really see beyond that.”
Grayston says it’s different now, as groups of people from different parts of the world start to settle in the Prince Albert area. Grayston points to the increasing diversity of the cultures being represented at the recent Tapestrama festival as the most visible sign of how the community has changed.
“It’s magnificent, the culture that’s out here,” Grayston said. “We need to do more to recognize the variety of talent we have right here in this area that bring such a wealth to the city and to our province.”
Grayston says that while Saskatchewan has come a long way in terms of being inclusive to different demographics, she hopes the consultations will lead Sask. Culture towards a new multicultural strategy that is more welcoming to everyone.
“We’d like people to be comfortable within all working environments,” Grayston said. “We need to do more to make this a welcoming environment and make sure we are being welcoming to everybody, whether they are new here or have lived here for 70 years.”