On September 30, our Canadian studios will be closed in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day recognizes and commemorates the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and honours their survivors, their families, and the communities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
Newly passed legislation by the Government of Canada to make September 30 a federal statutory holiday marks an important step in the reconciliation process. DIALOG’s Governing Council and Partnership voted unanimously to adopt this day of recognition, granting each DIALOGer in Canada a paid day off.
As designers we have a unique role to play in the reconciliation process. As we build communities for future generations, we must honour our Indigenous peoples by incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing into our work, and supporting the deep connections they have to the land.
Orange Shirt Day
September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived Residential Schools and remembers those who did not. This day relates to the experience of Phyllis Webstad, a Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation, on her first day of school, where she arrived dressed in a new orange shirt, which was taken from her. It is now a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations.
On September 30, we wear orange to show our solidarity and commitment to reconciliation, to acknowledge the experiences of Indigenous students who attended residential schools in Canada, and to recognize the harm that residential schools did to the children’s well-being.
This year, each DIALOGer across the practice will receive orange shirts from Indspire – an Indigenous-led national charity that invests in the education of Indigenous communities.
A Day to Learn
September 30 is a day of reflection, and a day to learn. There are countless resources available, free of charge, and we encourage everyone to take the time to better understand the significance of this day and what it is acknowledging.
Indigenous Canada is a free three-month online course offered by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies through the online e-learning platform, Coursera. The course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-Settler relations. DIALOG's Indigenous Storytelling Team has encouraged us across the practice to sign up.
By actively participating in The Indigenous Canada Initiative, together we will build the foundation necessary to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation. By gaining a deeper knowledge about Indigenous peoples and their complex relationship with Canada, future discussions within DIALOG can take place about how we can work and design as allies, together with Indigenous peoples.
You can register for this course through Coursa.
About DIALOG's Indigenous Storytelling Team
This grassroots group came together with the common goal of helping DIALOG and DIALOGers become better allies, to create space for Indigenous stories to be heard, and to improve conversation about Indigenous perspectives and knowledge and how it applies to our work.
By gaining a foundation of knowledge for Indigenous-settler history we can build upon and learn more about Indigenous perspectives so we can continue to meaningfully improve the wellbeing of communities and the environment we all share, as allies together with Indigenous peoples.