For this assignment, we were tasked with making a self-directed design solution around the topic of reconciling with the First Nations peoples of Canada. It’s a topic that I’ve always held close to my heart, though have always been reluctant to approach out of fear of appropriation/offending others. It was important to me to handle this subject with care, and so I chose to focus on the topic of Cultural Appropriation so that I was less likely to misinterpret or misuse something from indigenous cultures. As a privileged white Canadian, I thought it best to educate other privileged white people on how they can be allies to indigenous groups.
In my research, I was startled to find that most attendees of festivals who wear appropriated clothing don’t actually realize what they’re doing, or they’re simply ignorant about the issues and do not care. A lack of education on appropriation as well as the normalization of appropriated “costumes” (through halloween, cultural events, etc.) have blurred the lines for festival goers. My goal was to challenge the decisions of these people and make them question why they chose to wear what they did in the first place. It’s intended to shame the wearer, and rightfully so because appropriation in itself is offensive and shameful towards the cultures that are being stolen from.
Because of this, my deliverables had to be easily accessed and forced onto the attendees. Social media is easily ignored, so if you deliver something along with the tickets, they’re forced to acknowledge it before the festival even starts. I chose to create a zine to be delivered with the tickets as well as a poster series that would be displayed at the festival itself. The tone and imagery are colourful and jarring, and intended to make the viewer uncomfortable with their decision-—much like how indigenous people and people of colour are faced with discomfort caused by appropriation.
The challenges that I faced, especially after meeting with the Indigenous studies class at Capilano University, were that I was afraid of crossing the line of appropriation myself. I had to choose my imagery very careful and I made sure to collect images of First Nations people that would’ve actually lived in the area that the festival takes place in—The Kutenai and Sinixt people. I was dissatisfied with my original design and restarted the posters from scratch after receiving helpful advice from the Indigenous studies class. Overall, I’m much happier with my designs now than I was at the beginning and I feel I’m successfully portrayed the tone and message while also maintaining respect for the First Nations referenced in my campaign.
Considering the amount of revisions I had to take in order to get to a place where I felt comfortable presenting, I feel very satisfied with my work. In the future, if I get the opportunity, I’d love to expand on my Zine concept and fill in the rest of the pages that I didn’t have time to create.
For this project, I’d give myself a solid 8.5/10.