While it's something many in Weyburn would rather not believe or even think about, racism is a very real experience for newcomers to Canada, even in Weyburn.
This is why, for the second year in a row, Southeast Newcomer Services, SWIS, and the Weyburn Art Gallery have joined together for an Anti-Racism Exhibition. The artworks are made by local children, youth, and adults. With it, they share their experiences with racism in our community.
Laura Eddy, Settlement Advisor with Southeast Newcomer Services said Weyburn has come a long way in showing newcomers a warm welcome. However, bigotry can be hurtful, however subtle.
"I would say Weyburn is probably pretty open to newcomers. Since I started in this position, in a year, I have seen the community come a long way. Unfortunately, we still do have that and that's why I'm partnered with the Weyburn Art Gallery for a show on anti-racism so that newcomers can express how racism has affected them, through art."
Eddy said last year was their first year of this exhibition, and it was a success.
"We had over 600 people go through the gallery," she noted. "It's a first-rate gallery, so I think it's really awesome that our newcomers, or people in Weyburn, are able to showcase their work there. We also had a video that played, with people ages seven to 35 speaking about racism and their art. It's very powerful to hear a seven-year-old talk about racism and how they've experienced it."
"Lots of schools go through it. We had Saskatchewan Amnesty International come through [last year], the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan was a sponsor and they're sponsoring it this year."
"It generated a lot of conversation and a lot of conversations outside of the art gallery, the art world, and newcomers," Eddy added. "I know I was in the gallery when a couple of older ladies were going through and they said, 'well, we don't have racism here', but as a white person, no you don't. No, you don't. So again, I thought that was really good to spark conversation with the older generation as well."
City Curator Regan Lanning said she helped the artists with an art-creation day, with things like blending colours.
"I helped with like things like how do you mix skin color, so I did a little class about the importance of purple in a skin colour, and that kind of stuff and helped them, but some of them didn't need help at all," she shared. "Others needed help trying to figure out how to show what they wanted to say"
"I can't imagine how hard it would be to talk about this. I mean, everyday life is difficult and I'm going through it with white skin, so I can't imagine how hard it would have to be to go through life with a whole other level of difficulty, right? I'm on easy mode."
Lanning added it was all ages who contributed art for this year's exhibition, which will be installed until April 28th.