PuSh Blog

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – an update on PuSh’s commitments

September 30, 2023

PuSh Festival does our work on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and Səl̓ílwətaɬ nations, and it is our duty to establish right relations with the people on whose stolen territories we live and work, and to the land itself. 

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation began in 2013 as Orange Shirt Day, a community driven effort to draw attention to history and legacy of Residential Schools, bear witness to the resiliency of survivors and commit to the ongoing work of Reconciliation. 

We urge you to join our staff in taking the day to reflect on our shared history and take meaningful action toward reconciliation by participating in events hosted by local Nations and committing to meaningful actions you can undertake.

Last year we shared with you the steps our staff and board are making toward establishing right relations and invited you to contemplate small steps you can take on your own journey.

In the spirit of accountability and transparency, we are offering an update on the actions we are taking as an organization and as individuals. 

  1. We will listen. 

Through in-depth consultation with local artists, elders and knowledge keepers to ensure our work with Indigenous artists are addressing the real needs and desires of the community. 

In the fall of 2022, we engaged a consultant to support conversations with host nations and the community of urban Indigenous artists. Their work included a listening circle at the PuSh Industry Series, witnessed by elders from each of the host nations.

Our staff and board retreat, held in the spring of 2023, was led by an Indigenous Facilitator, and included local Elders who honoured us by bringing ceremony and ancestral wisdom into the work of visioning PuSh’s future. 

Our Indigenous Initiatives committee meets regularly to ensure that reconciliation and decolonization work continues. 

Next steps: we are exploring an Indigenous Advisory Council to continue our relationship building within Indigenous communities and to share in their wisdom as we move forward with our reconciliation work. 

  1. We will educate ourselves. 

Our staff and board commit to educating ourselves not only about the history of Indigenous peoples on this land, but also about Indigenous wisdoms and ways of knowing so that we can be ready for the difficult conversations that need to be had. We do this by learning more about Indigenous artists and thinkers, engaging Elders to share their wisdom, reading and listening to works by Indigenous people.

This has been a big year of learning for PuSh staff. We are currently reading and discussing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report and Recommendations at the beginning of our weekly staff meetings and we’ve shared space with one Host Nation Elder who shared some of their Nation’s traditions and knowledge. The Talking Stick @ PuSh Festival Industry Series, produced by Full Circle Performing Arts, provided a number of key learning opportunities to the community of artists, presenters and producers that PuSh convenes annually at the Industry Series. 

Next steps: we will continue the work of self-educating as a staff and pursue additional opportunities for learning with Indigenous communities.

  1. We will share what we’ve learned.

We will support community learning by creating, amplifying and championing resources. This will include extending invitations to learning opportunities beyond PuSh’s staff and board and sharing resources on social media for others to take advantage of. 

Our key sharing this year took place through the Talking Stick @ PuSh Industry Series to the over 200 registered delegates. We also took opportunities to share resources via our e-newsletter and social media during Indigenous History month.

Next steps: We will continue to share learnings and resources with our community. Our focus for the next year will be on PuSh’s process of institutional decolonization, but we will share what we learn freely and open up opportunities to our community as appropriate. 

  1. We will engage artists and community members in the spirit of right relations

In our work hosting Indigenous artists and presenters, we will be good hosts, ensure appropriate protocols are in place and work in collaboration with local Indigenous organizations to ensure that we are uplifting, and not profiting off of, our Indigenous peers.

Our Festival launch, Industry Series and Staff and Board retreat all opened with appropriate protocols. We continued our partnership with Talking Stick, who created a programme of Indigenous led and focused Industry Series events. 

Next steps: We will move forward with developing a framework for hosting Indigenous artists that respects their sovereignty and our status as guests on this land. We will prioritize ways of working that are collaborative and relational, rather than extractive. 

Thank you to our host nations and our Indigenous partners for continuing to hold space for these conversations.