Early in 2021, Heritage Saskatchewan reached out to British Columbia-based artist and folklorist, Shayna Jones to collaborate on its latest living heritage project for her work and experience elevating the voices of rural-dwelling African Canadians. From there, “Black & Rural Saskatchewan,” was born in partnership with the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum (SACHM) and the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan.
Early in this collaboration, Jones conducted a series of interviews to understand the Saskatchewan “Black and rural” experience. She spoke with a range of individuals, including descendants of the first African Canadian settlers in Saskatchewan, who shared passed-down stories as well as their own personal accounts. She also spoke with recent immigrants who imparted their struggles and triumphs living as a dark-skinned person in rural Saskatchewan.
Inspired by these stories, Jones created a performance that interprets the words shared with her over the course of her conversations, as well as a book, that you can check out here:
Thank you to SaskCulture and Sask Lotteries for their generous contributions and support.
Shayna Jones is a British Columbia-based multidisciplinary spoken word artist, award winning actor, performance storyteller, and folklorist of afro-centric folk history, folk narrative, and contemporary experience. Learn more about her work www.wearestoryfolk.com
Listen to this June 19, 2022 episode of CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend with Shayna and Carol LaFayette-Boyd, Executive Director of SACHM, and one of Shayna's Black & Rural Saskatchewan Interviewees.
Shayna was also interviewed on the November 13, 2021 episode of CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend about this project.