by Kristin Catherwood, Director of Living Heritage

UMulticultural recently released a video about Shayna Jones' Black and Rural Saskatchewan project, filmed in June in Melfort at one of her performances. Check out the video here!

Watching the video gave me a chance to reflect on the project.

More than a year’s work came to fruition this past June with the release of the publication, Black and Rural Saskatchewan, and folklorist/artist Shayna Jones's accompanying performance series. Black & Rural Saskatchewan is Heritage Saskatchewan’s fifth living heritage project and it is an offshoot of Shayna’s larger national project, Black & Rural. Shayna wrote a blog post last year introducing herself and her work. Since then, she interviewed 11 individuals whose shared perspectives and experiences became the foundation of Black and Rural Saskatchewan:

  • Maria Cole-Gayle
  • Christine Fiddler
  • Cheryl Foggo
  • Jane Ibisiki
  • Carol LaFayette-Boyd
  • Lewis LaFayette
  • Yemi Laosebikan
  • Jim Miller
  • Randy Morin
  • Nastra Muloyawi
  • Charlotte Williams

After a year of meeting virtually and communicating through email, it was a pleasure to finally bring most of the Black and Rural Saskatchewan team together in one place. All projects are a team effort, and Black and Rural Saskatchewan was a partnership between Heritage Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum (SACHM), and the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan. This collaborative effort allowed Shayna the time and space needed to do the work of gathering and interpreting the voices of Black and rural Saskatchewanians. 

We were pleased to take Black and Rural Saskatchewan performances to some of the rural communities associated with the project, which meant that some of the project participants were able to attend the performances and take part in a Q&A with Shayna afterward. In Rosetown, Lewis Lafayette; in Melfort, Dr. Yemi Laosebikan and Jim Miller; in Melville, Maria Cole-Gayle; and in Regina, Christine Fiddler and Jane Ibisiki were present. Carol Lafayette-Boyd, Executive Director of SACHM as well as one of the project participants, accompanied Shayna throughout her time in Saskatchewan and attended all the performances (in addition to a lot of planning and preparation throughout the project process).

I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Shayna Jones for the integrity, sensitivity, and depth with which she undertook this project. You will understand this for yourself when you read the publication. Those who were fortunate enough to attend one of the live performances will know the power of Shayna’s voice. We are grateful Shayna chose to bring her gifts of insight, observation, and expression to this project and to our province.

Several media outlets covered Black and Rural Saskatchewan, and we invite you to check out some of the articles and interviews to see how much this work moved and meant to people across the province:

June 19, 2022 episode of CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend with Shayna Jones and Carol LaFayette-Boyd, Executive Director of SACHM

June 28, 2022 Q&A with Shayna Jones in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix