by John Russel Jones

In partnership with Downie Wenjack Fund, Hudson’s Bay Foundation has unveiled two Legacy Spaces at The Bay and Hudson’s Bay head offices in Toronto. The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) aims to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people in Canada. The Bay and Hudson’s Bay Legacy Spaces are part of a five-year partnership with DWF.

“The Legacy Spaces are meant to encourage dialogue, reflection, and learning for associates to understand the impacts of colonialism and the residential school system, and advance reconciliation within our organization,” says Iain Nairn, President & CEO of The Bay. “The spaces chosen are hubs for collaboration, where teams meet to ideate and make decisions about our business. It was important for us to create spaces at the center of our workplace—to keep reconciliation at the forefront of how we do business.”

The Legacy Spaces were officially unveiled at an event opened with words from Bob Watts, former Executive Director of Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission and current Chair of both DWF and Reconciliation Canada. The gathering celebrated Indigenous culture through art, music, food, and storytelling; Anishinaabe Woodland artist Blake Angeconeb created a dedicated art piece for The Bay space, and shared his vision for the creation: “Throughout history and to present day, Indigenous people have relied on movement as a means of survival. Hudson’s Bay Company played a significant role in the process of colonization, a difficult and uncomfortable reality that Indigenous and settler societies are learning to navigate in the journey to reconciliation. This commission landed on the concepts of beauty, resilience, and truth. Indigenous people are beautiful. Our traditions, our language, and our ability to shine brightly give us strength to keep moving. We move ahead while honoring our truth, understanding that the truth is hard to bear. Hard truths that are interwoven and inseparable from the path we walk. We must talk about them. Niigaani mamaajise means ‘It moves ahead’, a reminder that reconciliation is an action, never linear, and always in motion.”

“As we build our Truth & Reconciliation framework for our company, we have been traveling across Canada and meeting with Indigenous communities to help inform that plan,” says Wayne Drummond, President of Hudson’s Bay. “The Legacy Space is an opportunity to bring some of that learning back to our broader organization and demonstrate our long-term commitment to learning and integrating Indigenous cultural awareness into our workplace.”

The Legacy Spaces feature an interactive experience where visitors can watch and/or listen to the Secret Path animation film and documentary, view the art on display, access educational materials, and sit for contemplation.

In May 2021, Hudson’s Bay Foundation launched its new social platform Hudson’s Bay Foundation Charter for Change, to help advance racial equity in Canada by committing $30 million over ten years to charitable partners supporting diverse communities with a focus on Indigenous Peoples and Black People’s opportunities in education, employment and empowerment.