Saskatoon, Treaty 6: Renata
Renata Cosic is dynamic and deep, committed to excellence in her work and quick to laugh, intelligent and empathetic. I first met Renata when I was looking for high school students for a United Way youth leadership project. When I contacted members, her mother, the ED of Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan, Regina Chapter at the time, saw a good fit for the program and an opportunity for Renata. She demonstrated the quick learning, deep thinking and team work that continues to characterize this impressive young woman. She was on our Youth Allocations Committee and then designed her own school projects. Renata was always willing to share her energy and her own experiences as a refugee, even when it was difficult to give voice to the stories.
She moved to Saskatoon after high school, and we reconnected when she started working on contracts that included International Women of Saskatoon (IWS). Yes, she was following in her mother’s footsteps – she shares her profound admiration for her mother and the strength it took to flee Bosnia with two young daughters. When Canadians were looking for ways to support Syrian refugees, Renata turned her empathy into action: she organized a poetry fundraiser event that was hugely successful.
I think we somehow found each other of social media when she started at IWS. Knowing she had experience with deciding grants for multicultural projects, she joined the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan Allocations Committee, and later the Board of Directors, when she served as Secretary until June 2018. I have seen her grow from a self-described “freaky” teen into a dedicated and competent professional who always is thinking about listening to the voices at the table and paying attention to those that are missing. Renata has taken on the challenges of increasingly responsible positions at IWS. She wears her commitment to building communities based on respect, empathy and equity in her work, volunteer and personal life.
My heart expands seeing where she has come and looks forward to the differences she will make in the future.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
The project I am involved in right now is called the “Self-Care Project”.
I spent the last several years expending too much energy on work, volunteering, planning fundraisers and community organizing. Last winter, I experienced major burnout and therefore decided that it was time to start taking care of myself. I gave up several volunteering gigs and committee work. I am always available to friends who need help with various projects, I just do not have the physical or mental energy to volunteer on a regular basis. I would love to do more work in the field of social and environmental justice in the future.
KC: What is your day job? What do you like about it? What's challenging?
I’m a Program Manager at a non-profit organization that helps immigrant and refugee women and their families with their settlement and integration into Canadian society. Working at a non-profit is rewarding and I feel like my life has a purpose. As a feminist, I feel like our work has direct impact on the lives of women we support. As a refugee myself, I find this to be a really good fit. Although I do not get the opportunity to work with clients directly as much as I did before, my favourite part of the day is talking to the clients and sharing our stories. However, I tend to take my work home and it is difficult to achieve a healthy work-life balance. This is the nature of non-profit work.
KC: What is important to you?
How much can I write here?
My independence is extremely important to me. I have been in co-dependent relationships in the past where I had to give up opportunities for work or travel. I am currently not attached to anyone and I make all of my own decisions that prioritize my happiness and well-being.
My friends and family are important to me. It is important to have a support network. Even though I like to think of myself as very independent, I still lean on my support network during hard times or when I need someone to deal with a rodent issue in my basement.
Having the means and the opportunity to travel is important to me. I understand that it is a privilege that many people don’t have. I am grateful for that. It is important for me to see how people live around the world and to understand their values and perspectives. It helps inform the work that I do with newcomers. As a once-upon-a-time newcomer myself, I also value having my Canadian passport. It affords me the freedom of movement across the globe. I think many Canadians take that for granted.
My dog Ruby. She likes to chase balls and eat sticks.
KC: What do you like the most, and least, about Saskatoon?
Saskatoon has been my home for 16 years. When I first moved here, I found it very easy to make friends. The activist community is huge here. There are many people who actually give a shit about improving the lives of marginalized populations. And the city is beautiful (in the summer). The main reason I stay here however is friends and family. If they were to move elsewhere I would be ready to move.
What I like the least:
The rent is too damn high!
The prevalence of racism and discrimination at all levels
The public transit system
Bike lanes – we don’t have any and yet people complain about the two lanes we have.
The privileged complainers
Lack of dog-friendly venues
KC: What is your impression of Regina?
I lived in Regina from ages 13 to 19 and that was a difficult time so I don’t really have great impressions from that time period. Right now, I travel to Regina for work but I mostly see it as all work and no play. I met some pretty cool people from Regina at Generating Momentum a few years ago and I sometimes contact them to hangout if I ever have leisure time while I’m there for work. A few cool things happening in Regina:
The Wren handmade market
Protests/Vigils in Victoria Park (take down that John A MacDonald Statue!)
Poetry at Creative City Centre
Queer City Cinema
MacKenzie Art Gallery
Regina Folk Fest (not like the Saskatoon Folk Fest)
Mosaic (the same as Saskatoon Folk Fest)
I think anyone can find a community there if you know where to look.
KC: If the best of all possible worlds was reality....
Human lives and the environment would be more important than profits.
KC: How would you like to die?
Swarmed by puppies OR heart attack from eating the most delicious meal I’ve ever had