Multicultural councils teaming up for anti-racism

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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“Only laundry should be separated by colour.”

The latest slogan for the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan (MCOS) anti-racism campaign makes people stop and think.

The campaign is leading up to March 21, the International Elimination of Racial Discrimination day, which the Prince Albert Multicultural Council will be a part of this year, said Rhonda Rosenberg, the executive director for MCOS.

“It has been a UN commemorative day since 1966,” she said. “It commemorates the 1960 massacre in South Africa. There were peaceful anti-apartheid demonstrations. The army was sent in (and) there was a massacre of peaceful demonstrators.

“Six years later in 1966, the UN recognized it and wanted to use that as a way to commemorate those particular people who died but also all of the damage that is caused by racism in the world by different situations,” Rosenberg added. “It has been commemorated in Canada in a more official way since 1989.”

In Saskatchewan, MCOS does work around March 21 and anti-racism, she said. In the past they have distributed posters and stickers to schools.

This year, they are adding to their regular campaign by partnering with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

“We worked together and designed a brand new poster with the theme, ‘Only laundry should be separated by colour,’” Rosenberg said. “We have had lots of great feedback about it already. The idea is to catch people’s attention.”

In addition to the regular posters and awareness campaigns, this year MCOS is working with CTV to bring their message to the province.

“We have been working with CTV on a series of interviews and when we talked about what we would like to do for March 21, we thought we don’t just want to tell those hard stories about racism that people have experiences and the everyday racism or individual serious incidents people have experienced,” Rosenberg said. “We want to couple that with what you can do about it.”

That is how they came up with the idea of “Champions of Anti-racism.”

“Why don’t we focus on people and organizations that are doing things that actively combat the racism that they are seeing, (so) that is what we did,” she said.

The organization was able to have interviews with the TV stations in both Prince Albert and Yorkton this year -- Prince Albert Multicultural Council executive director Shayne Lazarowich will be doing the interview in Prince Albert.

“It is going to be talking about the history of that day, why that day is important and the reason we recognize that,” Lazarowich said. “There will be questions around what we do at the Prince Albert Multicultural Council.

“We do work that primarily serves newcomers or immigrants to Prince Albert, but we also do a lot of events and activities and stuff that includes not only immigrants but First Nations, Métis and all sectors of the community,” he added. “We do some anti-racism work as well as just trying to bring together people from different cultures to celebrate similarities as well as differences.”

Lazarowich said he is glad to help in Prince Albert with the campaign since many times provincial campaigns may not go outside of the two larger cities.  

“A lot of organizations, such as MCOS, have a very heavy focus on Saskatoon and Regina and so I think sometimes when we have provincial campaigns, Prince Albert and the north may not benefit from some of their work,” Lazarowich said.

“I think it is something that is really important for us to take part in in Prince Albert and the north,” he added. “In Prince Albert, we are one of the main multicultural (organizations) that focuses on these issues, so we are very happy to take part in anything like this.”

He hopes the interview will teach people a bit of awareness and learn not only about the history around March 21, but also the work PAMC is doing in the community.

Rosenberg said the idea of the campaign is to point out that issues surrounding racism are still in the province.

“It is still something we need to deal with and there are people who are doing something about it and there are things (people) can do that will create a climate where it is much more difficult for a person to act in a racist way and much easier for people to share their experiences,” she said. “When some people are experiencing racism, it really is affecting all of us and we all need to be part of eliminating racism so that we can all benefit from everyone’s contributions.”

Those interested in Lazarowich’s interview can tune into CTV on Friday at noon.

Organizations: Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, Prince Albert Multicultural Council, Prince Albert UN CTV Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission First Nations

Geographic location: South Africa, Canada, Saskatchewan Yorkton Saskatoon Regina

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Recent comments

  • Anthony Johnston
    March 22, 2014 - 13:24

    When we stand apart and point at each other, we all are in prisons of bitterness and hatred.

  • Anthony Johnston
    March 22, 2014 - 13:19

    When we stand apart and point at each other, we all are in prisons of bitterness and hatred.

  • Mischa Popoff
    March 20, 2014 - 09:43

    Shouldn't there be racism before someone tries to tackle it?

  • Concerned Grandmother
    March 20, 2014 - 00:58

    After what just happened at the Regina University with John Gormley, and the harassment he got, the threats he got, it is not just "white" people who are pulling off the racist thing.