HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L.
Newly minted Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Bernard Davis was in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday, Nov. 16 to announce funding to expand the Sharing Our Cultures program to four regions of the province.
The provincial government announced $149,000 to bring the program, currently only offered in St. John’s, to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador City, Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor.
Sharing our Cultures was founded in 1999 by Dr. Lloydetta Quaicoe. The aim of the program is to engage students from diverse cultures and backgrounds and to help foster belonging and acceptance regardless of ethnicity, culture, language, ability, or religion.
“Sharing our Cultures will give you a chance to get to know each other, build new friendships and learn more about the rich diversity of culture that exists here in Labrador,” Davis said. “We know Labrador is one of the diverse regions in the province and Labradorians have a proud history of encouraging diversity and multiculturalism.”
Davis said it aligns with the provincial governments goals of promoting diversity and inclusion and help foster cultural understanding among youth.
The program was initially focused on newcomer culture but has expanded to encompass Indigenous cultures as well, Quaicoe said, including Inuit, Innu and Mi’kmaq, all represented in the province.
Quaicoe said they’ve been working on this expansion of the program since 2014 and are very happy to see it moving forward. She said it fits well with the curriculum for social studies and language arts. This funding will allow them to hire coordinators for the regions and provide the resources to the schools, so it won’t be out of pocket for them.
In terms of the program itself, Quaicoe said it starts early in the school year and meets once a week or so.
“So the students brainstorm and decide each week on what aspect of culture they want to focus on,” she said. “So let’s say they decide on music, then they have to research that and get an opportunity to do a presentation or a display board.”
They invite other students to see the displays during Multiculturalism Week, held in March each year, and share what they learned.
“We’d like to see in every region where Sharing our Cultures is offered, that they make it their own,” Quaicoe said. “It reflects the culture of the place and that collaboration between school and community.
“We don’t want to import it into the community, we want them to take it and make it their own.”