Cultural Awareness & Celebratory Activities for Staff

Ideas for National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21)

  1. Check with your local Friendship Centre to see what it is planning. Then your law firm could sponsor, volunteer and/or encourage staff to attend.
  2. Check with your provincial law society. Many of them plan events around June 21st to celebrate the day.
  3. If you are in a major city, there’s a good chance that the city/municipality is planning an event.
  4. Attend a pow wow. In many regions, June 21, as the summer solstice, is a time for gatherings and celebrations like pow wows. Many, like the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival in Ottawa, and the NIPD at Trout Lake outside Vancouver, offer activities, food, Indigenous artisans selling their wares, and opportunities to not only watch but participate in dances.
  5. Research the territory on which your office/s sit. On June 21, send a memo explaining land acknowledgements and the specific land acknowledgement for your location. Or record an Elder talking about land acknowledgement and post it on your law firm’s website.
  6. Commission and unveil artwork from Indigenous artists to adorn the walls of your law firm office/s. Invite the artist to speak about their artwork.
  7. Tune in or attend one of many Indigenous Day Live concerts hosted by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (they also celebrate the Winter Solstice on December 21st each year).
  8. June is Indigenous History month, and Canada also designated June as Indigenous Literature Month, so consider ways to celebrate, commemorate, honour Indigenous history and literature at your law firm.
    1. Host a lunch and learn by bringing in a local Elder, knowledge keeper to talk about the territory and the Indigenous history of your region
    2. Host a book club and read and discuss a book by an Indigenous author (maybe even invite the author to join your discussion/s)
    3. Host a film series on various Indigenous topics by Indigenous filmmakers (maybe even invite the filmmaker to join your discussion/s)
    4. Commission artwork from an Indigenous artist.  Unveil the artwork at a celebration when the artist can explain their vision. Put the artwork in a prominent place in your office.
  9. Consider celebrations, in collaboration with Inuit colleagues or associates, for International Inuit Day (November 7) or Nunavut Day (July 9).

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation | Orange Shirt Day Events & Commemorations (September 30)

There are many books, resources and tools for educators to incorporate residential school stories into school curricula.

  • Wear Orange - see the Orange Shirt Society website for more information.
  • Illuminating Parliament Hill - buildings across Canada will be illuminated in orange from September 30 at 7:00 pm to sunrise October 1, including the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.
  • Schedule a Virtual Tour of the Mohawk Institute Residential School with Woodland Cultural Centre.
  • Have an Indigenous designer create an Orange Shirt Day graphic (“Every Child Matters”) for your law firm, then put the graphic onto shirts and sell them to staff with proceeds to the Orange Shirt Society or Centre for Truth and Reconciliation or other regional or local organization supporting residential school survivors. OR sponsor an annual art contest to design the shirts to be sold.
  • Watch the Orange Shirt Day Presentation video by Phyllis Webstad, the inspiration for the day.
  • Arrange presentations from Residential School survivors (contact The Orange Shirt Society)
  • Host a panel discussion with academics, residential school survivors and others knowledgeable about residential schools (contact the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation or Orange Shirt Day for recommendations of individuals in your region).
  • Host a mobile residential school exhibition at your law firm. Contact the Legacy of Hope Foundation to inquire about their 19 stand-alone exhibitions.
  • Commission artwork from Indigenous artists to adorn the walls of your law firm office/s.
  • Create a bursary/scholarship for an inter-generational survivor of residential school who is a law school or articling student at your law firm.
  • Create a Legacy Space at your law firm. Legacy Spaces are “safe, welcoming places dedicated to providing education and spreading awareness about Indigenous history and our journey of reconciliation.” Contact the Chanie Wenjack Foundation.
  • Provide backpacks of supplies for Indigenous children. A number of Friendship Centres coordinate a backpack program. There may be other charities that can help coordinate this (True North Aid, Chanie Wenjack Foundation, Canadian Red Cross, for example). See this map of all Friendship Centres in Canada. Or partner with the First Nation, Inuit or Métis community closest to your office and find out whether there are school supplies that the students need, and donate funds or items on behalf of your law firm.