Keeping the Karen Language and Culture alive – Learning from other cultures too!
There are more than 140,000 refugees living in camps along the Thailand Burma border. Most of these are ethnic minority Karen. In 2007 Canada welcomed many Karen refugees, approximately 200 settled in Saskatoon. Upon arrival there were typical refugee settlement services provided. However, there was a language barrier as there were no Karen (S’Gaw) language translators in Saskatoon. The Karen refugees have settled in Saskatoon and have continued to live in the Meadowgreen neighbourhood. Most of the children attend WP Bate School and Mount Royal Collegiate in the area and the majority of the adults are employed.
The Culture Camp has been running for the past 5 years and has been provided entirely by volunteers and donations. It is a 2-week camp taking place in the late afternoon and evening. Instruction is provided by Karen community leaders, traditional food is provided by families whose children are participating in the camp.
The objective of the camp is to ensure all Karen (children, youth and elders) living in Saskatoon are able to maintain the Karen S’Gaw language (speaking, reading and writing) and culture. This is an opportunity to increase the literacy of Karen community members. The addition to the camp this year is to provide further connection to the Saskatoon cultural community and services. The camp will also provide an opportunity for the Saskatoon community to learn more about the Karen community and culture.
The KCCC will engage with approximately 80 children and youth ages 5 to 29. They will be divided into 3 groups based on their age and language skills. Many Karen children speak English but do not speak the Karen S’Gaw language. Many of the Karen community who arrived in Canada as adults have some English skills but are not fluent.
The KCCC is an important experience for both the children and young people attending, in addition to their other family members. Other residents including the Indigenous community, ethnocultural and newcomer populations will be engaged in a number of ways:
- Indigenous groups to engage and share; Metis jigging and hoop dancing
- Indigenous elders to meet with Karen elders. There is a shared history of colonization
- Other ethnocultural and newcomer summer camps invited to engage with the KCCC
- Video developed to be shared on social media and can be used in community presentations
- The general public will be invited to the graduation ceremony and screening of a Karen movie
For more information on how you can partner with us on this initiative, please contact us at 306.203.0330