The forerunner of the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association (SIA) was the Saskatoon Folk Arts Council, formed in 1964 to represent locally the Canadian mosaic. The mission of the SIA is to recognize and support the right of every ethnocultural group to retain its distinctive cultural identity without political or social impediment and for the mutual benefit of all citizens. The Council’s primary goal was the development and promotion of yearly events, which included fifteen to twenty affiliated performing groups. Ethnic histories were written as brief accounts of the Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, Norwegians, Scots, Hungarians, Germans, Greeks, and French, and afterwards other ethnic communities.
With each decade the organization adjusted its organization and structure: it became the Saskatoon Multicultural Council in 1981, and the following decade broadened again to become the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association. The Council was active in province-wide celebrations of Saskatchewan’s 75th anniversary. For Saskatoon’s centennial the Council commissioned an original work, The Spirit of Saskatoon, which was produced in April 1982. In the 1980s the Saskatoon Multicultural Council became involved with the city in the three-day festival known as “Folkfest”; it also expanded its participation in the Canada Day festivities with the Saskatoon Optimist Club, met the Public School Board’s request for educational resources, and continued its awareness-raising essay and poster contests.
A major concern became the preservation of heritage languages. The Association established the Multilingual School: eleven Association member groups (Chinese Mandarin School, Escuela Hispánica, German Language School, Hellenic School Association, Japanese Language School for Children, Nehiyawan Parents Group, Norwegian Cultural Society, Pakistani Association, Punjabi School, Saskatoon Chilean Association, and Saskatoon Club Italia) began instructing at Holy Cross High School. Currently, there are some 800 students attending classes, and approximately ninety teachers from twenty-one different ethnocultural groups are involved in offering classes. Current innovative programs and activities of the SIA reflect the new multiculturalism by entrenching more substantive aspects that follow the national picture: among these programs are Performing Arts, the Saskatoon Multilingual School, and the Equity and Anti-Racism Committee.