Our Commitment to Truth, Justice and Reconciliation

Our Commitment to Truth, Justice and Reconciliation

Our Commitment to Truth, Justice and Reconciliation

30 September 2021 (Toronto/Aterón:to/Tkarón:to) As an integrated planning and design firm, land and community are the foundation of our practice. As architects, landscape architects, designers, and planners, we help our clients transform land to connect, house, and enhance communities. We start by talking to people, listening to them and connecting with their concerns. We believe that the most challenging design issues are resolved through effective dialogue.

SvN works in many places, and our team is from around the world. Our studio is located in Toronto, from the Mohawk word Tkarón:to, which occupies the lands covered by Treaty 13 (1805), also known by the colonizers as the Toronto Purchase; an agreement between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. It is also on lands covered by the Williams Treaty (1923), signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands, of the Anishinaabe nation. These lands have been cared for, for thousands of years by many Nations, including the Mississaugas, the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, the Huron Wendat, the Métis, and the Inuit. Today, Tkarón:to is shared by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We recognize the Dish with One Spoon Covenant, an agreement that epitomizes our collective responsibility to each other and Mother Earth.

We give thanks to First Nations and Indigenous Peoples and their descendants who are stewards of this land, and we acknowledge their spiritual connection to the land and water. We must learn from these caretakers, and share in the responsibility to make decisions today that sustain our world for the seventh generation.

Our frameworks of mapping, measuring, and exchanging land for monetary value are constructs of a colonial system within which we operate. Early land use planning in North America was a tool used to dispossess First Nations, Métis and Inuit from their land, while fostering destructive assimilation. The legacy of colonization and institutionalized racism continues to impact Indigenous Peoples. Architects, landscape architects, designers, and planners have a role to play in Truth, Justice and Reconciliation. We are all treaty people, sharing the role as guests and caretakers of this land.

At SvN, we commit to moving forward in the spirit of Partnership, co-management, collaboration, and Reconciliation. In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, we make the following commitments as part of our duty to those who graciously share this land with us.

Learning and Understanding

  • Learn about Indigenous values, traditional knowledge systems, community building, land stewardship and design practices.
  • Uncover Indigenous history and ground our projects in the cultural and natural context of the land.
  • Honour Indigenous laws, land rights and governance practices.
  • Listen, learn and accept truths from Elders, Traditional Knowledge Keepers, and Residential School Survivors.
Building Relationships

  • Establish respectful relationships with First Nations and Indigenous Peoples and organizations.
  • Amplify the voices and talents of Indigenous colleagues, designers, and practitioners.
  • Support industry efforts to increase Indigenous representation in planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture.
Implementing Through Our Work

  • Seek opportunities to meaningfully engage and listen to First Nations and Indigenous Peoples throughout our project work.
  • Support and advocate for First Nations and Indigenous clients to question and challenge our colonial systems of planning and governance.
  • Ensure our work is respectful of the environment and its resources for current and future generations, seeking opportunities to build resiliency and accommodate all living beings.
  • Integrate and communicate truths, knowledge, and Indigenous narratives into our projects.

SvN is honouring the first annual Truth and Reconciliation Day, and is encouraging our team to use the day as a day of learning and reflection, in honour of the Residential School Survivors, and those children who did not return. In the coming weeks and months, we will be actioning our commitments, and focusing efforts on building relationships and collaborating with First Nations and Indigenous Peoples.

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