Threads : Cultural Conversations

Where did the title ‘Threads’ come from? It began with a story about a mother. A teacher, she immigrated to Canada from a bustling international city and became a farm wife on the Prairies in 1963. Unsurprisingly, it was a big adjustment. On summer visits to Saskatoon, her children would rummage through their mother’s things to discover little gems, simple things they once took for granted. Like their mother’s thread jar, as she called it. She was an avid seamstress, having learned the art from her aunt. Raised during WWII, she experienced food rationing and saw bombs in her skies. She learned to save everything. Her clothing was made from her aunt’s old clothes, curtains, or whatever was available. So it is not surprising that she did the same for her children’s clothing. She never threw anything away. Each of the saved threads--carefully plucked out of older garments--was stuffed into an old Blue Ribbon spice jar for reuse, only to be laboriously resewn into a new garment. A tedious process, indeed. Her children said of her spice jar: “In some odd way, this is art.” She had never thought of it that way before.

Metaphorically, aren’t those saved threads the spice of life? Each colour represents a culture, a journey, a unique story, removed from one place or garment and sewn into another. Not unlike Newcomers. Each thread a seed, in need of water, sun, and earth, merely looking for a chance to grow. And don’t our lives intertwine like threads? In the places where we work, in the communities where we live, in those we befriend or marry. Although we seem like garments made to order--each distinct from the other--when we dig deeper, might we not unravel multiple identities and experiences, inextricably linked? After all, a garment is held together by threads. Without threads, we’d be naked. Culturally, around the globe, we are woven together like carpets and tapestries, needlework of all kinds. These arts stubbornly fight to exist in a time of technological facility, mass production, and mass migration. “We will not die!” these arts proclaim. The craft of culture! The spice of life!

This elderly mother now lives an increasingly isolated life due to COVID-19, one of countless individuals who devoted their life to helping others flourish. Might we take a moment to reflect, respect, anticipate, and hope for what the newer threads-- Canada’s Newcomers--will look and feel like against our skins of many colours, as they are resewn into another garment and space?

Threads: Cultural Conversations explores the issues, challenges and desires for Newcomers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures to live in harmony, to settle and belong anew, in a time of unprecedented migration around the globe. Participatory sessions weave together knowledge, art, film, storytelling, philosophy, dance, music, poetry, games and more, to discuss and explore issues around what it means to flourish and belong as diverse peoples. Join us.

About the Conference

Hosting over 30 speakers and performers from across Canada and featuring keynote speaker Andrea Menard, and special guests Kamal Al-Solaylee, Omayra Issa, and the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Threads: Cultural Conversations explores the issues, challenges, and desires of Newcomers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures. Our speakers will share their advice on living in harmony in a time of uncertainty across the globe. Our presentations weave together knowledge, art, film, storytelling, dance, music, philosophy, history, poetry and more, to discuss and explore what it means to truly flourish and belong as diverse peoples. 

This two-day online event of national scope is organized and hosted out of Saskatoon by the Saskatoon Open Door Society. It will be held virtually on January 20 and 21, 2021. You will be able to tune in to between one and four half-day sessions during those two days from the comfort of your own home or office. After the conference, you will have an increased understanding of the life experiences of refugees, immigrants, Indigenous people, and non-Indigenous people, as well as how their stories are different and how they are similar. You will also have access to further resources to increase your understanding of the world we all belong to, and how to better reflect that world from your corner of it. With a suggested donation of $50, your access to these resources, as well as conference video replays, will continue for a full calendar year.

This conference consists of four sessions:

  • Inviting You In will welcome you to the conference and locate us all in time, space, and history.
  • Beginnings and Endings will explore experiences such as starting life in a new country, death rituals of various communities, and how to live together in the in-between.
  • Expanding Our Perception will deal with issues affecting people around the world as well as here at home, and how those issues affect us no matter how far away they are.
  • Growing Our Roots will detail how we can create a sense of home while acknowledging the various communities we are part of. 

We have a variety of very exciting speakers, including keynote speaker Andrea Menard and special guests Kamal Al-Solaylee, Omayra Issa, and the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. Visit our Agenda page to see when they will be speaking and to plan your attendance.

Registration takes less than a minute and is absolutely free. Plus, with a suggested donation of $50, you will have access to the conference resources and video replays for a full year starting February 2021.

Threads Team

Aliza Nasir
Digital Media Officer
Amy Thorp
Anahit Falihi
Director, Settlement & Community Services
Anita Ogurlu
Cultural Bridging Facilitator
April Sora
City of Saskatoon, Consultant
Dawn Wasacase
Community Resource and Production Advisor
Faly Golshan
Supporting Member
Geordie Gescha
Kenton Doupe
Jean-Philippe Deneault
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Juliana Ofori
Supporting Member
Julie Fleming Juarez
Team Lead, Cultural Bridging & Community Engagement Programming
Lauren Allen
Registration and Outreach Coordinator
Lindsay Woods
Digital Media Officer
Michael Afenfia
Cultural Bridging Facilitator
Sameen Durr-e
Community Development Worker

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