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Former Kamsack resident leading museum set to gain nat'l status

Sam Karikas is the CEO of the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina.
Former Kamsack resident Sam Karikas, middle, is the CEO of the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina, which is set to become Canada’s newest national museum. On the left is High Commissioner Ralph Goodale, and the right, retired Chief Superintendent Sylvie Bourassa-Muise.

KAMSACK — From a recreation co-ordinator to the RCMP Heritage Centre’s CEO, former Kamsack resident Sam Karikas continues community building in the national scope.

“Whenever I think of home, that's what I think of,” she said of Kamsack.

Born in Winnipeg and raised in Kamsack, Karikas moved her way up to lead what will likely become the second museum designated as a national museum in the West after the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, and the tenth nationally.

The RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina, mandated by the federal government in 2019 to become a national museum, is expecting a federal budget to fall into place on April 16 to finish the transition.

With the financial commitment in this budget, the parliamentary process will only begin to pass a bill in the House of Commons that will allow the centre to be written into the Museums Act and be the next national museum.

“It is very important for there to be a National RCMP Museum in Regina that honours the courageous and inspiring contributions of the RCMP throughout our history, while also telling the most difficult stories with dignity and compassion,” Karikas said.

Throughout the four years working on the project, Karikas has served as a consultant and helped with board work before joining as the head last year.

“Stepping into the CEO position has allowed me to learn a lot really quickly.”

Some of the leading projects involve connecting the RCMP officers and artists with students and schools, she said, to have the students “learn in that dialogue.”

With a background in Fine Arts and an interest in the non-profit sector, Karikas said working with the museum has been “a natural fit” as her career has unfolded, where she brings people together to solve problems and be creative together.

It all started with the summer job she landed after Grade 12 before Karikas left for university.

As a recreation co-ordinator, she created a summer camp that ran daily, available to kids of all ages in town. She hired the team to work with the youth while doing artwork, designing games, guiding tours, all activities creative to keep the kids entertained.

“We’d go on walks, to the different parks and spend time at the park so we really got to take the kids around all over Kamsack and use all of the town amenities,” she said. “Sometimes we would do town-wide scavenger hunts.”

On rainy days, Karikas had to be creative with alternative plans such as using the theatre and doing improv with the kids – Kamsack Comprehensive Institute prepared her well for that.

“What has always stuck with me is all of the teachers in Kamsack.” she said. “I'm sure it was very annoying to some of them sometimes, because I always asked questions. And I was very curious.”

Karikas said the teachers she had instilled faith and saw potential in their students, and that her creativity was never stifled during that time.

“The summer job ended up being kind of a nice goodbye to the town for me.”

As with the guidance and kindness she received in a town that is rich to explore and full of opportunities, she went forward with efforts in creating a shared understanding of the peoples where healing can take place.

“And all it takes is starting by building relationships. That's where you start.”