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The pandemic made this year an extraordinary one when individuals and organizations had to change the regular ways of conducting activities. To celebrate Saskatchewan Multicultural Week (November 21–29, 2020), a spotlight is being shone on the Prince Albert Multicultural Council (PAMC). PAMC embraced the need for change in its operations to stay both relevant and impactful in the community in a challenging year. Here's a look into a great multicultural superhero organization!
According to Michelle Hassler, Executive Director, Prince Albert Multicultural Council, "The very nature of our organization encourages close proximity with people by talking, hugging, and sitting together in classes and at events. We were faced with a challenge in how we would hold annual events such as Tapestrama and Canada Day. People needed the centre to go to during their settlement process, social distancing was hard and locking the doors to clients was even harder.
"The question was to determine how to move the scope of activities like settlement services, diversity and multicultural awareness, language classes and employment skills training from face-to-face to virtual. PAMC had to move fast! As a superhero, it ignited its magnetic pull to attract diverse people for creative innovation and not lose sight of client needs."
"We quickly embarked on a train-one-train-all system to get all staff and clients skilled on the available technology so we could continue the training programs," said Hassler.
Another win for PAMC was holding two major events virtually. There was no template to learn from, so how did PAMC pull that off? "First, we were honest to admit our concerns and sought professional help in livestreaming to deliver the quality we wanted," said Hassler. "The feedback received so far shows the community is happy about a virtual event because those excluded prior due to chronic health challenges could safely watch it online."
In the words of superhero Ronan McKay, "It was an overwhelming experience for me to leave my familiar environment in Red Earth Cree Nation for Prince Albert. I needed help with computer skills, assistance with a job search, and to learn new and simple things like taking a bus and shopping for groceries in a city."
These daily life changes can be daunting and even more unnerving during a pandemic when physical distancing is being practised. "The team at PAMC has been amazing; they provided needed direction and all I had to do was show up and learn," McKay said. "Through PAMC, my use of technology has improved. I am on my work placement now and very happy."
Past beneficiary of PAMC and Coordinator of Prince Albert Common Ground, Lemoya Lorenson said, "Our joint programs aim to break down barriers and stereotypes through dialogue and joint activities. But it is hard to show empathy online. It was a challenge moving from three dimensional to two."
While the future still looks uncertain, Michelle Hassler said, "my amazing team of superheroes will continue to push the bar."
Thank you to PAMC and all the multicultural superheroes in our province for their great work!
For more information on Saskatchewan Multicultural Week, visit http://mcos.ca/tag/saskatchewan-multicultural-week/ or Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
To share your multicultural superheroes on social media, use the hashtag #MulticulturalSuperhero.
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