CBC's National Day for Truth and Reconciliation logo explained
Artist Emily Kewageshig shares the story behind the design
The entire CBC network will be amplifying Indigenous voices on Sept. 30, the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. And the focus on Indigenous perspectives isn't just about the content of the programming; it's in the details of how those stories will appear on screen. All-new design elements for broadcast and digital programming — including a re-imagined CBC logo — will be used in conjunction with the event, and Anishinaabe artist Emily Kewageshig oversaw the creation of it all as a contributing art director for CBC.
It's a unique gig for Kewageshig, who considers herself a painter first. After studying visual art at Sheridan College, she rediscovered her love for the Woodland school — a movement most associated with its founder, Norval Morrisseau, and a style she'd been familiar with since childhood, growing up in Saugeen First Nation #29. "There were a few artists from my community who created in this style, and I always wanted to be like [them]," she says.
"When I'm working in Woodland, I'm just drawing straight from my mind. I find that it's the best way to showcase storytelling in a way that is simple. It's beautiful." And it's a visual language that she brought to this assignment.
So, what's the story behind the logo?
Kewageshig talks about her logo design as being something akin to a conversation starter. It should prompt a few questions, she says. "Like, what does this mean? Why am I seeing this?"
"I want people to internalize that thought process and try to come to a deeper understanding of what CBC is trying to do by promoting this day."
What does the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation mean to her?
"To me, it means a day of learning from Indigenous voices, listening. And then, of course, it's a day of action where we can put these kind of images into the mainstream media so that people across the country can think about what this means to them. Because I think that's the more important question: not what it means to Indigenous people, but of what it means to others, because the collective understanding of this day is what is going to benefit Indigenous people moving forward."
How did she capture that idea? By planting a symbol of growth
After her first team meeting with CBC, Kewageshig had one main theme on her mind. "I was just thinking about the idea of growth," she says. "After years of Indigenous people advocating for change, we finally have been given a day to dedicate to truth and reconciliation, and honouring it together."
"I turned the gem logo into a flower, so it has the stem and leaves at the base," she says. That full version of the design is one of several variations that will appear across the network.
"To me, it symbolizes growth, change. It's sort of blooming this newly acknowledged day into existence."
The sun and four faces: a hopeful vision for the future
Another theme that the logo captures is the idea of moving forward. "I was thinking of a sunrise," says Kewageshig, explaining that it's a motif she regularly incorporates into her paintings.
"We have a new day to become better, to make the change that we want to see," she says, talking about the symbol's meaning. "In the logo, the sun kind of radiates in all directions spreading the light up and around and through the logo sections."
And that sunburst is surrounded by four human faces, a nod to the Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel, Kewageshig explains. Note how they're arranged: "They're looking at each other in search of hope for the future, while also connecting as they're spreading in the four directions."