We are committed to listening, learning and taking concrete actions to support Truth and Reconciliation. In order to foster systemic change, it is imperative that we educate ourselves and adopt tangible actions to promote healing.
Over the past decade, Associate Senior Project Director for Urban Design and Landscape Architecture at Lemay, Gail Shillingford, together with her former colleague Jill Robertson from DIALOG, have compiled an impactful starting list of ways to support Indigenous communities. Gail leads Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion conversations and pursues Indigenous education and knowledge building to respond to and enable Truth and Reconciliation. This list represents an effort to immediately address Truth and Reconciliation through actions that she feels are effective in initiating processes to create lasting change.
1. Attend or volunteer at a National Indigenous Peoples Event such as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation or the National Indigenous Peoples Day.
2. Participate in a walk for reconciliation.
3. Attend and support Indigenous community events.
4. Ask your children’s teachers if they include curriculum related to the Indian Act or residential schools.
5. Read books by Indigenous authors and read books by Indigenous authors to your children such as Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga or Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
6. Donate sports equipment to remote Indigenous Communities or time to coach Indigenous sports teams in your community.
7. Ensure you buy authentic Indigenous Art and spend the time learning about its meaning.
8. Buy food from an Indigenous food truck, or eat at an Indigenous restaurants.
9. Learn the Indigenous names for where you live and work.
10. Support Indigenous language revitalization.
11. Attend a ceremony.
12. Support efforts to stop inappropriate usage of Indigenous imagery for mascots.
13. Speak up when you observe cultural appropriation.
14. Speak up when you hear someone making derogatory remarks.
15. Write your MP a letter supporting the dismantling of the Indian Act.
16. Take an Indigenous course led by the Indigenous community.
There are many ways to support Indigenous Peoples and the list above is not exhaustive and simply presents a few simple ways to begin your journey in becoming an informed ally for our neighbours. Supporting Indigenous communities through concrete actions can help foster the road to Truth and Reconciliation – there is no action that is too small.
Read Gail Shillingford’s article, Truth and Reconciliation: a designer’s lens, on engaging Indigenous communities through design.