Douyon Award winner brings cultural events to offenders

When Donna Myskiw, a social program officer at Stony Mountain Institution, was informed she’d won the 2017-2018 Emerson Douyon Multiculturalism Award, her first reaction was surprise.

“I have an interest in researching different cultures and trying to get others involved,” she said in a recent telephone interview.

“I enjoy doing that kind of stuff, so when I was told about this award, I was surprised, because I was just doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” she added with a chuckle. “I wasn’t working toward an award. “Through all this, I’ve learned a lot of things about cultures, so to me, it was just an interest.”

That interest, and the passion Donna brings to work every day, obviously stood out to colleagues who nominated her for the honour. The Douyon award is given to a CSC employee or community partner who shows dedication and commitment to advancing multicultural and race relations within CSC.

A former finance worker, Donna moved to social programs in 2011.

“The duties are a lot different, and that’s what I liked – there’s a variety of things you can do,” she said. “It’s challenging, you can create what you want and bring in different ideas, and that’s what I liked about it.”

And she’s brought plenty of ideas to Stony Mountain, planning a host of events and activities aimed at helping offenders connect with their cultures and backgrounds. Whether it’s planning movie nights, games and quizzes, inviting guest speakers or marking events like Black History Month, Donna is always thinking about how to get offenders engaged with their backgrounds.

In 2011, she even managed to bring in drummers and dancers as part of Folklorama, a local cultural festival in Manitoba. More than 200 people attended the event at Stony Mountain – Minimum.

Piquing offenders’ interest in their history is a big part of what Donna does.

“I mean, I always try and get (inmates) to brainstorm or try and talk to their parents or grandparents,” she explained. “I get feedback from them as well – I don’t do it all on my own.”

Congratulations on winning the 2017-2018 Douyon Award, Donna, and keep up the good work!

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