Welcoming Community: Representation Equity

November brings a time of reflection and celebration to the Northland as we observe Native American Heritage Month. In honor of this observance, this month’s Welcoming Community newsletter focuses on the crucial theme of representation equity in our community.

Representation equity is about ensuring Native Americans and all historically underrepresented or misrepresented groups see themselves fairly and accurately reflected in their communities and the world around them. The power of representation is multifaceted. In the media, it shapes our understanding of ourselves and each other. In education, it informs how our history is taught and our future is envisioned. In vocations, it influences who leads and who follows. In sports, it can inspire and unify. And in politics, it directly affects how communities are served and voices are heard.

re has been tangible progress toward representation equity across the Northland and beyond. Media has a growing commitment to showcasing and accurately portraying diverse cultures. School curricula are evolving to include the full breadth of Native, Indigenous, and minority histories and contributions. In vocations ranging from healthcare to technology, efforts are being made to promote diverse representation. The voices of Native individuals and groups, as well as those from other underrepresented backgrounds, are increasingly heard and recognized in community dialogues. With last year’s election of the most diverse legislature in Minnesota’s history, there have also been significant strides toward political representation equity.

Further welcoming efforts to address representation equity might include:

  • Showcasing stories and contributions of Native Americans and other marginalized voices in local media and encouraging, supporting, and providing platforms for content created by and about individuals from underrepresented communities.
  • Establishing roundtable discussions within sectors such as education, healthcare, and technology to continually assess and improve representation equity in our community workforce.
  • Encouraging youth to engage and participate in school clubs, mock elections, and/or civic educational programs to foster interest and knowledge of political representation equity in future generations.

The journey toward representation equity is part of a broader effort to promote well-being, belonging, and inclusion in the Northland. As we seek to foster a community that is truly welcoming for all, fair and equitable representation must extend into every area where a voice can be heard, a story can be told, or a decision can be made. For more information about resources, initiatives, and stories around representation equity, please visit our ‘Resources to Explore’ section below.

I believe Native Americans, women, and all of us deserve representation, and that we all need to fight with everything we have to make it so. Deb Haaland

Continued Learning

The goal of the Welcoming Community program is to provide continued opportunities for learning and connection related to topics relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our region. In our monthly emails, we highlight a specific equity topic and provide resources related to the monthly theme.

The theme for the month of November is Representation Equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section, we ask that you consider the following question:

“In terms of representation equity in northeast Minnesota, where have we come from, where are we now, and what steps do we need to take to reach an equitable future?”

Resources to Explore

Forbes: Why Representation Is More Important Than Inclusion Alone

Understand Native Minnesota: The importance of Indigenous representation with Wayne Ducheneaux

American Archive of Public Broadcasting: Native Narratives: The Representation of Native Americans in Public Broadcasting

PowWows.com: Indigenous Representation in Modern Media: Breaking Stereotypes and Shaping Narratives

Variety: Indigenous Representation Is Still Scarce in Hollywood: ‘We Need More Native Stories’

The Journalist’s Resource: Native Americans: Negative impacts of media portrayals, stereotypes

New America: On-Screen Representation Means More Than Just Identity. It’s About Context

CNN: What TV and film get right about representation

Nielsen: Explore the representation of diversity and inclusion on TV

Common Sense Media: Why Representation Matters in Kids’ Media

PBS: Why on-screen representation matters, according to these teens

NPR: More Evidence TV Doesn’t Reflect Real Life Diversity

Paramount Insights: The Effects of Poor Representation Run Deep

KARE 11: Miss Minnesota competes in Miss America as first Indigenous woman to represent the state

Sahan Journal: Mall of America’s Santa Experience expands representation

Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: MSU women’s coach: ‘Representation matters’

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education: Diversity in the Classroom: Why Representation Matters

MinnPost: Representation in the medical field: U of M working to boost Native American population in medical schools

Minnesota Women’s Press: New Indigenous and LGBTQ+ Voices That Will Represent Minnesotans

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Gardner, Ojibwemowining Digital Arts

Third Annual Equity Summit Sees Growing In-Person Participation

On October 4, 2023, the Third Annual Equity Summit, hosted by Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program, returned to the Iron Trail Motors Event Center in Virginia, Minnesota. Participation in this year’s summit rose from approximately 130 in 2022 to 180 in 2023.

Participants heard a keynote address from nationally-recognized visual artist, Jonathan Thunder, after which they participated in a community discussion, called a Lyceum, on the topic of Art and Belonging.”

Organizations active in working towards creating welcoming and inclusive communities were highlighted during a lightning round before hosting lunch discussion tables where attendees could get a more in-depth understanding of their work.

Incorporating feedback from last year’s summit, workshops focused on providing interactive learning and tools for participants to apply in their community, organization, or business.

The summit concluded with a panel presentation featuring a discussion of challenges for families and individuals with perspectives from disabled and LGBTQIA+ community members.

This year’s summit featured sponsors at several different levels, including:

Elevate Sponsor: St. Louis County

Engage Sponsor: Architecture Advantage

Small Business and Nonprofit Sponsors: Audacity HR, Fairview Range, and Boundary Waters Connect

Northspan’s Welcoming Community programming is also funded in part by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Northland Foundation.

Information on next year’s Equity Summit will be coming in the new year!

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Welcoming: In the News!

WDIO: Touchstone Honoree: Northspan Group

Duluth News Tribune: Duluth Chamber hosts first Women in Leadership Conference

WDIO: Northspan Receives federal funding for underserved entrepreneurs in the Northland

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Gardner, Ojibwemowining Digital Arts

Welcoming Events Across the Northland

Many initiatives are ongoing to support Welcoming across northeast Minnesota. Listed below are some opportunities to explore and participate in!

Do you know about a connection opportunity we could highlight in an upcoming newsletter? Submit events to alewis@northspan.org by December 10, 2023.

Bentleyville Tour of Lights
November 20 December 26, 2023
Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Santa’s Home for the Holidays Parade & Fireworks
December 2, 2023
Cloquet, MN
Learn more here

December 2, 2023
Carl Schuster Memorial Park, Biwabik, MN
Learn more

Duluth Winter Village 2023
December 2 3, 2023
Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Holiday Celebration 2023
December 8, 2023
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet, MN
Learn more here

Bringing Light to Chisholm
December 14, 2023
Chisholm, MN
Learn more here

December Free ArtDAI
December 16, 2023
Duluth Art Institute, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Solstice Luminary Hike
December 21, 2023
Enger Park Golf Course, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Ongoing Events

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Various Events
Learn more here

MN Department of Health:
Mental Well-Being and Resilience Learning Community

Learn more here

Boundary Waters Connect: Hello Neighbor
Learn more here

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa:
Ke Go N
aa! Language Lessons
Learn more here

Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging:
Classes, Workshops, Trainings

Learn more here

Entrepreneur Fund: Stride
Learn more here

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Invite a Friend

If you know others in your community who are interested in participating with Welcoming Community programming, please share this post so they can learn more & Click Here to join our email list.

Contact Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org with any questions.