Saskatchewan election: MLA diversity

Saskatchewan 2020 Election MLA Diversity

With the election results and new Cabinet appointments, the above chart shows the representation of women, visible minorities, and Indigenous peoples in relation to the overall population and the two parties.

Most striking to me is the significant under-representation of Indigenous peoples overall, with only the NDP having its elected MLAs largely reflecting the overall population (but not with respect to visible minorities.

Will update British Columbia once Cabinet appointed.

Quebec immigration minister skips federal human rights meeting addressing systemic racism (along with Alberta, Saskatchewan)


Quebec’s immigration minister Nadine Girault pulled out of a virtual meeting among provinces about human rights, drawing criticism from federal government officials who say it is because of the province’s refusal to acknowledge systemic racism.

Girault sent a bureaucrat to observe, instead of participate in the meeting, citing scheduling issues. Alberta and Saskatchewan also sent observers, rather than participating.

But Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says he was told by Quebec provincial officials Girault’s absence was because of the meeting’s portion on systemic racism, which Premier François Legault has refused to say exists in Quebec.

Source: Quebec immigration minister skips federal human rights meeting addressing systemic racism

Kaleidoscope: How a Ukrainian dance ignited a debate on cultural appropriation

Latest cultural appropriation debate but one leading to conversations:

Six young men dance arm-in-arm, stomping as they move in a tight, precise circle.

The men kneel and clap as a dozen female dancers float and swirl and kick across the stage at a recent rehearsal in their Saskatoon studio.

This Ukrainian folk dance is called the Holubka. It’s familiar territory for the dancers and their bouncing, gesticulating choreographer, Serhij Koroliuk.Some have said it’s never OK for Ukrainians to dance powwow. Pewapsconias, founder and CEO of Neeched Up Games, doesn’t go that far — her point is that this particular performance was disrespectful to Indigenous people.

That August night at Folkfest, Pewapsconias and her sister had enjoyed the dances and food at other pavilions, and hoped to do the same at the Ukrainian.

When Kaleidoscope began, Pewapsconias, an active member of the Indigenous Poet’s Society, said everything changed.

Pewapsconias noticed when a blanket containing flags of many immigrant nations was unfolded on stage, neither flag for Treaty Six nor the Métis Nation — the Indigenous jurisdictions on which the City of Saskatoon sits — was represented. The Indigenous dance costumes were partly plastic.

​Pewapsconias noted that for decades, First Nations people were banned from dancing powwow and performing their spiritual ceremonies.

It was part of a massive effort to eradicate Indigenous culture that included residential schools, the pass system and the Sixties Scoop.

She and her family are finally reclaiming their culture, so she was shocked to see non-Indigenous people taking liberties with their traditions.

“It just immediately went from having a fun, OK night to feeling powerless, feeling angry,” she said.

“I feel this way. The people I’m with feel this way. I need to share this on social media and call this out. So that’s what I did.”

Some on social media accused the dance group of using Indigenous culture as entertainment. But others defended the dancers saying critics were too sensitive.

A love letter to Canada

 Koroliuk hasn’t spoken publicly about this controversy until now.

He created Kaleidoscope as a love letter to Canada on his 10th anniversary of becoming a citizen. His dancers have performed this same routine several times in Saskatoon and around the world to standing ovations. He said people of all cultures including Indigenous have thanked the group for reaching out to their culture.

Koroliuk calls himself “a made in Ukraine Canadian.”

He was born just one generation after a genocide called the Holodomor in which millions of Ukrainians were intentionally starved to death by Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

So he was particularly hurt to see the online comments calling him a colonizer and accusing him of cultural appropriation.

“Shocked. The simple answer is I was shocked. So were my dancers,” he said.

“I thought I was contributing in this way and expressing my gratitude but I felt like I was outcasted and saying ‘This is not your place.'”

‘Coming from a place of goodness’

Caught in the middle of the controversy was Don Speidel of Buffalo Boy Productions.Speidel, who has spent his life trying to bridge the gap between Indigenous cultures and the rest of society, offered advice to Koroliuk when the dance was first created more than a decade ago.

Many criticized Speidel for “approving” the dance, but others say Koroliuk took liberties and should have consulted more. Still others saw the dance as imperfect but applauded the effort to honour Indigenous cultures.

Speidel, who has travelled the world conducting ceremonies, including a recent honouring of late-singer Gord Downie in Ottawa, said he doesn’t want to point fingers at anyone — he’d rather figure out ways to bring people together.

He said he understands the frustration of young Indigenous people who are often finding their voice through social media. He also sees the efforts being made by non-Indigenous people, even if the execution doesn’t match the intent.

He said the key is for everyone to respect each other.

“When you want authentic engagement, you might be prepared to take that relationship to a whole other level.”

“It’s really about that idea of coming from a place of goodness.”

Reconciliation begins with conversation

That relationship-building has already begun.

Koroliuk and Pewapsconias met earlier this fall and agreed to take the stage together in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

Koroliuk has put Kaleidoscope on hold. He said he didn’t intend to cause pain but knows that the dance did.

He wants to work with Indigenous experts and hopes they can find a way to honour First Nations people.

“I’m puzzled and definitely I will have to address it differently,” he said. “Many hurt was done to First Nations people. I recognize that. We all live side by side. Let’s be good friends and neighbours. Let’s build this great country together.”

Pewapsconias also wants to learn more. She said she never meant to hurt anyone, but knows the Facebook posts did.

She said reconciliation begins with conversation — sometimes those are awkward, sometimes painful.

“I hope good things come from this and we’re able to leave the table being able to shake each other’s hand and give each other the respect they deserve,” she said. “because we’re all human.”

via Kaleidoscope: How a Ukrainian dance ignited a debate on cultural appropriation | CBC News

Saskatchewan: A special report on race and power

Good in-depth piece by Nancy Macdonald on the lack of diversity in Saskatchewan. Well worth reading in its entirety:

Right now, 22 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population is non-white: 16 per cent Indigenous, and 6.3 per cent visible minority—figures that are expected to jump when new census figures are released early next year. And yet Saskatchewan’s power structure does not reflect its changing face.

In the course of reporting a story earlier this year about the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in provincial jails,Maclean’s heard complaints of representational deficiencies in the province’s power structure; the magazine undertook a survey that looked at the 265 most powerful people in government, justice, business, and education. Just 17 positions were filled by non-white people—1.8 per cent by visible minorities, and 4.5 per cent by Metis or First Nations peoples. The mayors of Saskatchewan’s nine biggest cities are white. So are all but one of the chiefs of police and 18 of 19 city councillors in its two major cities, Saskatoon and Regina, the presidents of its two universities and its biggest college, its six major sports teams.

Saskatchewan has never elected a visible minority candidate to the House of Commons, or to the council chambers of Saskatoon or Regina, say academics, political staff and city clerks in Regina and Saskatoon. In the last election, the province made history when it elected Muhammad Fiaz, the first visible minority to sit in the province’s Legislative Assembly, a milestone that surprised even Fiaz, he tells Maclean’s. (Neighbouring Manitoba did this nearly four decades ago.)

Just one of the province’s 21 Crown corporations and one of the six Saskatchewan-based, publicly-traded businesses are headed by a visible minority: Rupen Pandya is president and CEO of SaskBuilds, which manages the province’s large-scale infrastructure projects, and Murad Al-Katib is president and CEO of agribusiness giant Alliance Grain Traders.

In perhaps the most glaring omission of minority voices, just two of the 101 judges in the province—where 81 per cent of those sentenced to provincial custody are Indigenous, higher than in any other province—is either First Nations or Metis.

Therein lies the rub, says Saskatchewan MLA Nicole Sarauer, formerly a lawyer with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan. The problem isn’t just the unrepresentative power structure, it’s the vast “disconnect” between those making decisions and those most impacted by them. Without adequate representation, the concerns of Indigenous voices are more easily overlooked, which helps spur the growth of the appalling socioeconomic gap dividing Saskatchewan’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

Indigenous people in Saskatchewan are, for example, 33 times more likely to be incarcerated than a non-Indigenous person—higher odds than an African American in the U.S., or a black South African at the height of apartheid.

Source: Saskatchewan: A special report on race and power –

Immigrants Looking Beyond Big City Living – New Canadian Media – NCM

Saskatchewan_ImmigrationLet’s not exaggerate: the numbers are still small, both in Saskatchewan as a whole and the communities listed, but it is part of a trend, helped by the growth of provincial nomination programs, towards more dispersion of immigration across the country:

The research, based on the 2011 National Household Survey, revealed the top five non-metropolitan towns with the highest number of immigrants as a per cent of total population were all in Saskatchewan. Although the number of immigrants moving to rural areas are smaller, the impact on the local population is significant. For example, topping the list was the town of Englefeld, Saskatchewan, with a total population of 225 people, 80 of them being immigrants – about 35.6 per cent of the population.

“Over time, the labour markets in the larger centres become particularly saturated, so immigrants will perceive more opportunities in smaller jurisdictions and that will bring them outward.” – Dr. Michael Haan

Ontario still attracts the most in sheer numbers, but the prairie provinces rank higher per capita for several reasons says Dr. Michael Haan, the Canada research chair in population and social policy at the University of New Brunswick. He describes the recent trend to rural Canada as a natural progression of a country’s immigration movement.

“When a country initially welcomes immigrants, they tend to cluster in particular regions, here the largest cities received the most,” he explains. “Over time, the labour markets in the larger centres become particularly saturated, so immigrants will perceive more opportunities in smaller jurisdictions and that will bring them outward.”

Immigrants Looking Beyond Big City Living – New Canadian Media – NCM.

Saskatchewan Multicultural Week kicks off with forum, new PSAs

Despite its relatively lower level of diversity compared to neighbouring provinces Alberta and Manitoba, clear focus on multiculturalism:

A forum on multiculturalism kicked off Saskatchewan Multicultural Week on Saturday at the First Nations University of Canada.

“We need to understand everybody’s different cultures and embrace them as opposed to just seeing differences,” said Mark Docherty, minister of Parks, Culture and Sport.

The free event, titled ‘Remember our Past, Envision our Future’, focused on topics such as how to grow multiculturalism in Saskatchewan. The provincial government and the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan MCoS partnered for the annual week to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of The Saskatchewan Multiculturalism Act.

Many in attendance at the forum weren’t born in the same country but could find unity in their experiences of living in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Multicultural Week kicks off with forum, new PSAs – Regina |

Newcomers settling in smaller Sask. communities

Not many articles about the increased diversification of settlement patterns, although the numbers are still small in an absolute sense:

Counterbalancing the drawbacks, though, are benefits of small towns and rural areas – outside of employment – that are keeping their immigrant retention rates high.

Largely, it comes down to the idea of small-town, friendly Saskatchewan, said McLean. She mentioned how church groups in Prince Albert have been overwhelmingly welcoming of newcomers.

Employers have also gone out of their way to encourage retention by helping their employees settle in and integrate, said Kapeller. She spoke of employers driving car-less workers to appointments, helping out with grocery shopping, and lending a hand in registering children for school.

Palmer added that in smaller areas, immigrants tend to get more immersed in the community as a whole instead of getting swallowed by the already established, nationality based newcomer communities in larger cities

The results of the two-day summit, the first of a series of provincial events across the country, will inform regional and national priorities for the CIC going forward.

Newcomers settling in smaller Sask. communities.