The Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre has launched a new initiative to create awareness about cultural diversity and to gather information about the variety of cultures in the region.
The official launch of the display Cultural Exploration in the Southwest took place at the Swift Current Mall on March 21, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre hosted various events in the past on this day to raise awareness about racism and ways to address it, but Executive Director Icasiana de Gala said they felt a need to go back to the basics with this initiative by reaching out to the entire community to learn more about the different cultures in the area.
“It is important that we are aware of the many cultures here around us, to know the culture and to understand them,” she explained. “The Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre believes that in knowing and understanding the different cultures we would be better equipped to accept and respect our differences. This would allow us, coming from many cultures, to come together and participate in the process of strengthening our community.”
The display consists of six panels that provide information about the concept of culture, encourage self-reflection, and ask for participation in a survey.
“It’s in the understanding that we accept, that we are able to work together, that we are able to strengthen relationships and encourage everyone’s participation,” she said. “So this is the main objective of this display.”
Two complete displays have been created for this initiative with support from the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan. These displays will be set up at various locations in southwest Saskatchewan to connect with area residents over the coming months.
One display will be located inside the Swift Current Mall until April 4 and the other display will initially be in Shaunavon.
The panels include a definition of what culture is and why it is so important. There are various questions to serve as a starting point for reflection. Another information panel highlights the diversity of cultures in the southwest through details about the countries of origin of newcomers since 2007.
An iceberg graphic is used to visualize the difference between surface culture (things we can see) and deep culture (things we do not see).
A QR code on the display makes it possible to participate in the survey, which is an important part of this initiative. The information is anonymous and the questions will help to gather information about the variety of cultures in the region and the extent to which people interact with each other.
The survey results will be shared with the community and the information will also be useful for future community engagement and initiatives to promote cultural awareness and understanding.
“This is the first time we’re doing it,” De Gala said. “We’ll see what we get and learn from this experience. Basically, if there are two action points that we can take from this survey, then that will be the next step for us.”