Monday 27 April 2015

Fostering Fransaskois Culture

One of my favourite stories of integration involves singing, records and the post office.

Paul Campagne’s grandparents came to Canada in the early 1900s from France and settled in Willow Bunch, SK. When Paul was growing up, they couldn’t find French music in Saskatchewan, so his father would call a Montreal record store and ask them to send him French music so that he could share it with his children. Paul remembers getting boxes of records in the mail when he was a kid. The French music he listened to as a child inspired Paul to sing. Every year, he runs a Francophone festival on his family farm in memory of his parents.
Willow Bunch, SK from
Paul and his siblings also went on to form Canadian folk music groups, Folle Avoine and later Hart Rouge. One of our partner organizations, Conseil culturel fransaskois, was instrumental in fostering young Fransaskois singer-songwriters like the Campagne family. Formed in 1974, the organization was mandated to foster the development of Fransaskois culture. According to its website:

Le Conseil culturel fransaskois s’engage à fournir un appui concerté et soutenu à la communauté fransaskoise dans son développement artistique et culturel. Il voit à l’intégration de la culture dans les écoles fransaskoises et d’immersion, facilite la diffusion de spectacles dans les communautés et offre des formations artistiques.

“The Conseil culturel fransaskois develops programming, policies, and activities that will allow the Fransaskois community to achieve its cultural and creative potential thereby increasing its economic viability. The organization helps facilitate the overall cultural and artistic development of French artists and cultural workers.”

The Conseil culturel fransaskois is also a sponsor for Saskatoon’s week long Francophone Film Festival, Cinergie, which kicks off tonight, Monday, April 27. This year, Cinergie celebrates its 10th anniversary, with five days of Francophone films from the Prairies, Canada and beyond. The films range from coming-of-age stories to animation, romance and drama. Learn more about the festival at

Thursday 16 April 2015

"Come & Join Us": Powwow welcomes everyone

A friend of mine told me the other day that he wanted to go to the 37th annual First Nations University of Canada Powwow in Regina this past weekend, but wasn’t sure if non-Indigenous people were allowed to go. This reminded me of an interview we did with First Nations elder Maria Linklater for the Stories of Integration Project.

Born on Thunderchild First Nation, Linklater moved to the city of Thunder Bay and brought her cultural traditions with her. She did craftwork, held feasts and taught people how to make quilts and do beadwork. Linklater told us it’s important to her that we “enjoy one another’s way of life.”

Keeping in line with this philosophy, the FNUC powwow was open to anyone with an interest in attending. As Elder Linklater said, “Come and join us when we have feasts, when we have round dances, and have an open mind.”

As a non-Indigenous person, I had the honour of attending the powwow this past weekend with friends. It was powerful to watch the more than 650 registered dancers fill the Brandt centre stadium during Grand Entry, to smell the burning sweetgrass and to enjoy the sound of the traditional drummers and singers.

To view more photos visit Michael Keith Dubois' album on Facebook here.

Powwows take place across North America. For a list of upcoming powwows in Canada and Saskatchewan, click here.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Saskatchewan Ukrainian Community

One of the first interviews we did for the Stories of Integration Project was with Alice Derow in Canora. Her grandparents were Ukrainian and immigrated to Canada in 1898. It took them two weeks to get to Halifax from eastern Europe. Later, they settled in Yorkton, SK. Their first home was a one-room log cabin, which housed five adults and five children. The cabin was plastered with clay, and heated by an oven. Alice told us that her grandparents were farmers and wanted a better life for their children. When we spoke with Alice, she was active in her church and sang in the choir, saying that it was important to her to pass on Ukrainian traditions and language.
Alice Derow, Canora, 2013

Alice is also on the executive of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Canora branch. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Saskatchewan Provincial Council is one of our partner organizations and is "an inclusive, self-sustaining, vibrant organization that serves the Saskatchewan Ukrainian community to maintain, develop and share its Ukrainian Canadian identity, culture and aspirations."

On the UCC-SPC website, you'll find lots of opportunities to contribute to, and participate in, Ukrainian culture in Saskatchewan. You can enter a 50/50 lottery, the proceeds from which support cultural, heritage, educational, youth projects and activities. You can read about the history of Ukrainians in Saskatchewan, check out a calendar of events, which includes everything from a Ukrainian Dance Festival in Prince Albert to a Concert for Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine in Saskatoon, read about the organization's services and programming and much more.

Do you have a story to share about Ukrainian culture? Tell it to us in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #WeAreSK