Honouring spaces of belonging

Jul 04, 2024

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A Coast Salish weaving is prominently displayed in the entrance hall of the Segal Graduate School of Business in downtown Vancouver. The specially commissioned artwork was shared in ceremony May 2023, and welcomes the Indigenous Business Leadership Executive MBA (IBL EMBA) students and other visitors with the story of this place, beginning at a time long before the building that now houses Beedie School of Business stood here.

In a creative fusion of tradition and modernity and from a two-world seeing approach, the weaving has inspired a companion graphic emblem that now serves as the visual identity of the IBL EMBA program.

Both are the realization of the IBL EMBA student and alumni response to have more visual representation of the program and the communities they come from in the business school, as well as advance the relationship of the school with economic reconciliation. Indigenous Graduate Program Director, Alexia (Lexi) McKinnon and the IBL EMBA team, brought together a group of alumni to dream into what those pieces of artwork could be.

When McKinnon stepped into the role of director of Indigenous graduate programs at SFU Beedie, a previously gifted piece of artwork was serving as anchor for the IBL EMBA program identity. McKinnon, however, in listening to feedback from community, learned it was time to move forward in relationship with local nations and to honour the experience of past students by incorporating these histories into the symbols that would represent the IBL EMBA program in the future.

This led to commissioning the piece by Coast Salish master weaver, Angela George (IBL EMBA ’20).

The essence of the weaving’s story was then translated to a graphic emblem by Ta7talíya Nahanee, a graphic designer from the Squamish Nation. It is now being rolled out to appear on IBL EMBA materials, website, and other places where the program has a presence.

The emblem’s geometric pattern and bold colors are rich with symbolism. The zigzag pattern represents the non-linear journey of life and learning. The colours represent foundational concepts that underpin values and teachings of many Indigenous cultures.

Bringing this visible identity to life and into existence was a process of decolonization, Indigenization through upholding Truth and Reconciliation. The process was led by Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing, and walked the business school through a deep and impactful learning journey.  Through collaboration, listening, relationship building, understanding, learning and unlearning, two very important and special visual representations of welcoming spaces grounded in two-eyed seeing, story and Indigenous law were created.

We invite you to witness how these creative practices are guiding a way forward for more inclusive and representative spaces where we work and learn in relationship and community at SFU Beedie School of Business.

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