We Take It Back

Indigenous Graphic Design / May 15th, 2023

Harvesting Saskatoon berries at St. Laurent, Manitoba.

This page discusses topics that may be distressing and awaken memories of past traumatic experiences and abuse.
The Residential School Crisis Line provides 24-hour crisis support to former students and their families toll-free at 1-866-925-4419. 
First Nations, Inuit and Métis seeking immediate emotional support can contact the Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310, or by online chat at

If you’ve arrived on this page as part of Forward Summit West, thank you for coming!

On May 18, Shaun Vincent, Founder and Creative Director of Vincent Design speaks at Forward Summit as a part of a roundtable discussion on the representation of Indigenous peoples and land in entertainment and other creative industries. One of the questions for the panel is:

How do we create paths for creative freedom and the rise of creative industries for Indigenous people in Canada?

The following are examples of our work as an Indigenous-led firm on Treaty 1 land in Winnipeg, completed for our clients across Canada and around the world. 

Here’s how we do it.
We take it back.

We’re taking it back and letting the world know who we have always been.

We take back our symbols.

Walking Together Pope Francis Canada 2022

This logo for Pope Francis’ visit with stops in Alberta, Quebec, and Nunavut was a project Shaun originally refused. You can read more about his thoughts and decision to take on the Walking Together in this post. The logo represents new hope and coming together while remembering and understanding the past and ongoing effects of residential schools on Indigenous people and communities.

The visit provided Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Survivors with an opportunity to tell their stories and we wanted to portray that in this design, incorporating meaningful elements of nature to represent strength, perseverance, and community.

We chose shades of blue to represent the healing and calming nature of water and air, and by shaping the design elements into a circle created a beautifully fluid and rhythmic logo representing the core meaning of Walking Together — coming together to heal.

We take back our connection to our land.

Keyera Seeds of Connection

Keyera came to Vincent Design for a logo to represent their commitment to building and nurturing relationships with Indigenous people, communities and organizations in Canada. Linking Keyera’s environmental commitments to the Indigenous ways of life — caring for the land and all its living things — we selected flowers locally grown in Alberta to symbolize the elements of their journey and engagement with Indigenous communities. 

Inspired by six of Alberta’s native wildflowers, the produced artwork represents the foundational elements of Keyera’s journey and engagement with Indigenous communities, in a colourful design entwined with meaning and promise.

We take our stories back.

Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada

Consultation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners and partner groups informed the selection of elements for this logo for the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, a four-volume set featuring Indigenous perspectives shared through maps, artwork, history, and culture. The Atlas was a landmark project that became the foundation of Vincent Design, and marked the beginning of an ongoing working relationship with Canadian Geographic that continues to this day.

This work involved research with museum curators and historians on artifact archives that inspired design choices and ensured culturally relevant meaning.

A mosaic logo with elements holding critical meaning for each group, fused together by a circle that evokes the traditional medicine wheel and the four geographical directions; the book cover echoes the indelible fingerprint of Canada’s Indigenous people.

We take our history back.

Wehwehneh Bahahkinahgohn

The landmark Hudson’s Bay building in downtown Winnipeg was transferred to the Southern Chiefs’ Organization in April of 2022, in a historic act of reclamation and reconciliation. This project, called Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, will see the transformation of the building into housing, a Governance House for the chiefs of the southern First Nations, a child care centre, museum, gallery, a health and healing centre, and two restaurants.

Many of the original people of Turtle Island were critical to Hudson’s Bay company’s success and the fur trade, intertwined with Canada’s history but often invisible in the Canadian narrative, and so the project has been named Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, or ‘it is visible’.

You can learn more about Vincent Design’s role in Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn in this related post. The project’s visibility also brought the attention of the Winnipeg Free Press to the offices of Vincent Design, resulting in this profile.

We bring our children back.

National Advisory Committee on Residential Schools Missing Children and Unmarked Burials

The National Advisory Committee was created in July 2022 to help Indigenous communities access and share trustworthy information about all aspects of the search for missing children. The Committee is made up of independent experts from a wide range of backgrounds, such as archival research, archaeology, forensics, police investigations, health and well-being, and Indigenous law and protocol.

Ojibwe and Cree children are given their first pair of moccasins when they begin to walk. This begins the education of personal growth, the teaching of how to approach life in these Indigenous cultures.

These youth are told that the steps they take matter.
These youth are told that where they “walk” in life is important.
They’re reminded that others will follow in these footsteps.

These youth are told that they have a purpose in life and that they are not wandering through the world aimlessly.

Moccasins bring people closer to the earth — you can feel the ground under you as you walk. This should make you appreciate it more. – Andrew George

The imagery of children’s moccasins was something that stayed with Shaun after the discovery of the remains of the 215 children in a mass grave Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia nearly two years ago. It was something felt so deeply and powerfully across the country, with displays of children’s shoes set out in memory. 

Seeing moccasins on doorsteps demonstrated an even deeper connection with Indigenous families. Using moccasins in the logo was a way to represent First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, as each have different styles of moccasins or kamiks. Researching the types of footwear was part of the process, but hearing feedback from Elders on the moccasins, especially their notes ensuring the authenticity of the designs was particularly rewarding. The consultation made space for them to open up and share the weight of grief, especially considering this wasn’t that long ago in our personal and collective history, with the last residential school closure happening in 1996.

About Shaun Vincent

Shaun Vincent is an artist, graphic designer and entrepreneur. He earned an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design, Communication Design from Red Red River College Polytechnic in 2003.

Growing up included spending time with family in the Métis community of St. Laurent, located on the southeast shore of Lake Manitoba, where Métis people lived since the 1800s. Shaun is the latest generation to care for land there, and where he feels most at home. As an Elder once told him, “the land knows your feet here.”

He founded Vincent Design Inc. in 2007, after several years working in the design industry. It was in those early years of his career that he saw the need for representational design.  It became the driving force for striking out on his own, building a branding and marketing firm with a focus on promoting Indigenous communities, organizations, and companies. 

From those early days in the basement of his St. Boniface home, he squeezed in hours while his three children were at nursery and elementary school, along with many late nights. Through it all, he knew he wanted to create authentic, memorable work. Since then, his children have become teenagers and Vincent Design Inc. has grown to include a team of 19.

Over his career, Shaun has designed hundreds of logos, specializing in those that require a deep understanding and sensitivity to the people and stories they represent. One example of this is his work on the Survivors’ Flag, This design was created for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in honour of residential school Survivors and all the lives and communities impacted by the residential school system in Canada. It was introduced during the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation federal holiday in 2021 and raised at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The design was also featured on a national television broadcast marking the day. 

His approach and style have evolved to show representation of Indigenous peoples that isn’t specific to the symbols that have become like shorthand – Métis oxcart, an Inuit inukshuk or a feather for First Nations – instead using animals and plants for the meaning and the way they don’t abide by Western ideas of borders and boundaries. His style, while influenced by the Woodlands and Cape Dorset styles, has become his own. 

As an Indigenous designer, he is immersed in the culture, carrying forward his experience into every project. Connections to the land, history and ‘knowing’ – the understanding that the spirit lives within each of us–are reflected in the process and the result. It is this Two-Eyed Seeing bridging Indigenous understanding with Western strengths.c

Shaun is a Troop Leader for the 3rd Winnipeg Scout His volunteerism has been recognized with awards from both the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba. He also serves on the board of Building Urban Industries for Local Development, or BUILD, a social enterprise non-profit contractor and a training program for people who face barriers to employment. BUILD is headquartered in the Social Enterprise Centre, where the Vincent Design offices can also be found.