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June 21 is the 25th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day. For the past quarter-century, this day has been dedicated to celebrating and honouring the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.

Earlier this month, Chief Rosanne Casimir, of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, announced the discovery of the remains of 215 children, as young as 3 years old, who had been found near the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops. BC — the largest institution in Canada’s residential school system. Since that initial discovery, more remains have been found near other former residential school sites across Canada, including one near Lestok, Saskatchewan discovered by Muskowekan First Nation, and another at Brandon Residential School in Manitoba by Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. More grisly discoveries are likely at other sites of Residential Schools across the country. This points to the incontrovertible, shameful evidence of cultural genocide in our country and confirms Canada’s devastating past record and current impact of cultural colonization that is indelibly linked to our history. It also reaffirms our responsibility to undertake the vital work yet to do – as individuals, organizations, groups and as a nation –  towards the case of Truth and Reconciliation. 

215 Window Installation at Pivot Design Studio

At the present time, Pivot’s King Street studio is home to several lighting panels that are clearly visible in the neighbourhood after sunset. If you’ve been in the vicinity, you may have noticed them lit up in orange. For the month of June, at intervals of  15 minutes, the panels will be lit up in orange for exactly 215 seconds to honour the Indigenous children whose remains were found. And to the families and communities who have been the silent victims brutalized by untolled years of discrimination and displacement, we salute and honour you, and extend our respect and empathy to all  First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

The special quality of Experience Design/Inclusive Design is its process that allows you to design with empathy – to create something meaningful and to do it as a mindful practice of learning.  Similarly, travelling the path to social equity and inclusion takes this same constant cycle of learning and discovery. 

As non-natives, we are looked upon as settlers to the Indigenous Peoples of this country. And so, we at Pivot (whose studio resides on the ancestral, traditional and contemporary lands of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Mississauga, Wendake-Nionwentsïo)  state unequivocally that we recognize the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples who live here now, and those who in the past were forcibly removed from their homelands. We offer our acknowledgement of this land, and we affirm Indigenous sovereignty, history and experiences.

With Canada Day fast approaching, we encourage our blog readers to discover the  Indigenous lands on which you currently reside (visit the native-land.ca website for more information) and to make a point of reading the Truth and Reconciliation Report that includes 94 Calls to Action. At Pivot, we believe the path to true reconciliation begins with each individual educating themselves and becoming knowledgeable about the history, then sharing what they’ve learned, so that others may be inspired to do the same. 

Here are some other steps we’re are taking at Pivot on the path to reconciliation: 

Land acknowledgements

In offering this art installation at our studio around land acknowledgement, and other land acknowledgements in the course of our business, we affirm our commitment to Indigenous sovereignty, history and experiences. Our installation and land acknowledgements serve as our determination to work towards the goal of ending the last vestiges of colonialism in this country. 

We encourage colleagues, clients and our peers to read and research more on land acknowledgements and to discover the native lands on which they reside (native-land.ca).

Beginning a dialogue on our history of colonialism

Land acknowledgements are one way to have a meaningful discussion on the plight of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and taking a collaborative approach to the process of reconciliation.

Sharing resources   

Pivot regularly shares the voices of Indigenous creators and thought leaders, and promotes the voices of other diverse groups through our social media channels, so as to diversify and promote peoples of all backgrounds. They include:

@mumilaaq – a politician and recent member of parliament, Mumilaaq is a voice to follow and one worth amplifying.

@indigenousrising – an Indigenous environmental network project about demanding system change beyond just climate change. Watch for the podcast coming soon.

@aptn_ca – the world’s first national Indigenous broadcaster and all of its sub-brands are a good follow for some alternatives to the mainstream news and culture outlets.

For more ideas, read the Truth and Reconciliation Report.  It’s a succinct document with a list of actions on what  we can all be doing to take the right steps towards reconciliation and equity

— Iffat Jokhio

Iffat is a senior user experience designer at Pivot.

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