New Legacy Space Features Indigenous Design 

Kira Smylie

CIBC announced opening a Legacy Space at its global headquarters, CIBC SQUARE. The Legacy Space is dedicated to the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada and the importance of economic reconciliation in promoting Indigenous prosperity. The space answers the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 92 and furthers CIBC’s commitment to clear and measurable actions to promote reconciliation.

“CIBC is committed to advancing the economic prosperity of Indigenous peoples, and we look forward to using the Legacy Space to foster open dialogue among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” said Victor Dodig, President and CEO of CIBC. “While we continue to take steps towards reconciliation, there is still much work to be done. CIBC is guided by our Reconciliation Framework and remains committed to making meaningful changes and supporting Indigenous communities and leaders to build a more inclusive future.”

Key design features include a vaulted ceiling of solid carved oak and wood-veneer ribbing, inspired by the Anishinaabe teaching lodges and the longhouses of Wendat and Haudenosaunee villages and an oval table in the middle of the meeting room inspired by the practice of Indigenous sharing circles and designed to encourage meetings and events to follow the same format of participatory discussion.

The Legacy Space was designed in consultation with local First Nations leaders and Indigenous team members and in partnership with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund through their Legacy Spaces program. Talks began in 2018 with the design inception of CIBC SQUARE and built upon the previous CIBC Legacy Space located at Commerce Court West.  

“Legacy Spaces provide the opportunity for companies and organizations to make reconciliation a priority in the workplace,” said Sarah Midanik, President & CEO of the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. “Developed through a holistic community engagement model, engaging Indigenous community members, stakeholders, and employees throughout the process, I am so proud of the work done to create this powerful space.”

CIBC selected the Indigenous Design Studio, a specialty practice at Brook McIlroy, to bring the space to life. Brook McIlroy is a design and planning practice fusing architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, planning and Indigenous place-making to create a contemporary holistic approach that advances the potential of Canada’s lands, peoples and communities. A unique practice specialty is the Indigenous Design Studio, which is led by Indigenous designers who work with communities, institutions, and municipalities on projects addressing Truth and Reconciliation and celebrating Indigenous culture.

“The Legacy Space is an opportunity to become immersed in an experience centred around Indigenous design, materials, and histories,” said Ryan Gorrie, Principal at Brook McIlroy. “The wood feature enclosure serves as a unifying presence, referencing Indigenous structures of the region and providing warmth and connection to the natural. Limestone from Manitoulin Island anchors the room at either end, providing a visual richness. A place for gathering, ceremony, meeting or contemplation, the Legacy Space is didactic for those who want to know more; its materials and finishes are carefully selected with the intent of inspiring conversation, learning and relationship building.”

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