In the video, released today on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, recently arrived residents Najibulla Sorosh and Maryam Masoomi have tea with April Sora, immigration, diversity and inclusion consultant for the city. They talk about their lives in Afghanistan, the events that led to fleeing their country in the fall of 2021 and their journey to Saskatoon.
The video project, called Have Tea With Me, began as part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the university. A joint working group came together to look at ways to address racism and contribute to building a community that promotes empathy and understanding through conversation.
Mayor Charlie Clark said he thinks the video project is a great partnership to help with the crucial work of building a city strengthened by our diversity.
“Everyone who moves to Saskatoon has a story,” said Clark. “People bring the wisdom and resilience of their experiences with them, ready to share with our community if we can ensure they have the opportunity to do so. These videos are a window into the humanity and strength of those who come to Saskatoon as refugees and become our neighbours. I hope they help us become a community that can work together to ensure everyone who moves here can thrive.”
The video invites Saskatoon residents to get to know their neighbours, and the title, Have Tea With Me, was chosen because visiting over a cup of tea is a common and welcomed social practice in Afghan culture, as it is in many cultures around the world.
USask President Peter Stoicheff said embracing equity, diversity and inclusion is crucial for a community to thrive. The Have Tea With Me video is one example of a simple but effective way of doing that, by taking the time to simply speak with our neighbours.
"Here at USask we have seen time and time again how diversity is increasingly instrumental to thrive—not only as a campus, but as a community—and to create the collective success and well-being that we seek as a society," said Stoicheff. "Better understanding and appreciating others with different backgrounds, knowledge and experiences, enriches all of our lives. Equally important, we must constantly work to create an equitable environment of diversity and inclusivity, where everyone in our community feels welcome, and that they belong here. This project shows us that embracing differences and being open to learning more about the people around us, takes little effort but provides so much in return. The key can be as simple as inviting someone to join you for a cup of tea."
Four hundred people from Afghanistan have come to call Saskatoon their home, according to Clark. He said in September 2021, 240 members of the Marefat school in Afghanistan and their families arrived in Saskatoon, fleeing the oppressive Taliban who targeted educated young women.
Farkhonda Tahery, with the Saskatoon Open Door Society, was part of the Have Tea With Me working group and one of the first refugees to arrive in Saskatchewan.
“This video project is another effort to give us a chance to make Saskatoon home and make friends, and so far, I can say that we, the Afghan newcomers, have felt welcomed, supported and embraced by Saskatoon and Saskatonians, since our arrival here,” said Tahery.
The video launched today is the first in a series that shares the stories of refugee communities in Saskatoon. Residents are encouraged to watch the videos and to get to know newcomers, their neighbours.
To watch the video and for more information, visit the City of Saskatoon Have Tea With Me webpage at saskatoon.ca/havetea.