Indigenous graphic design students received renewed support from the Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) at its June 2018 AGM.
Inspired by a collective desire to give back, those in attendance set a goal to raise $10,000 for the Cheryl Lynn Rutledge Northern Indigenous Student Award. As of December 2020, GDC chapters and individual members have committed over $15,000.
GDC is now inviting all Canadian designers to donate to the fund to “unlock the door to the future” for Indigenous students.
A mother’s love inspires a scholarship
The Cheryl Lynn Rutledge Northern Indigenous Student Award was founded by recently elected GDC President Mark Rutledge to ease the financial burden for Indigenous people interested in pursuing a graphic design career.
Mark initiated the award in honour of his mother who passed away from cancer in 2016.
“My mother was the most caring and loving person I knew,” says Mark. “I have two brothers and a sister. Even though we were adopted at a young age, both my father and mother ensured that we were part of their family, regardless of the fact that we were Ojibway.”
Mark says that developing an award in Cheryl’s name felt like the best way to recognize the sacrifices she had made for her children.
“She taught us to push ourselves to be the best that we could be with what we had,” says Mark. “She consistently supported all our endeavours with care, compassion and love.”
In 2017, then President of the GDC Arctic Chapter, Mark established a scholarship for Indigenous students living in the North. He backed the scholarship with his own funds, committing $1,000 per year for five years.
A colleague’s sacrifice inspires collective action
When Mark presented his report about the scholarship and his personal funding of it at the 2018 AGM, colleague and friend, Mike Cober, GDC’s National Certification Chair, was touched by Mark’s generosity. He wondered if the valuable scholarship could live beyond a five-year term with additional financial contributions.
“As Canada’s national association for design professionals, there was no question in my mind that we should support this initiative for design students,” says Mike.
Mike went on to initiate a proposal to collect personal contributions. Within a couple hours, the community had pledged over $1,400. The group then established the $10,000 goal to ensure the scholarship could continue in perpetuity.
When the pledges were presented to Mark, he welled up with tears of joy. “I was left speechless. It filled me with pride and happiness to see this support from the membership. My mother would be very honoured.”
Following the new donations, Mark opened up the scholarship to all Indigenous students in Canada, with a preference given to those in the North.
“I want this scholarship to inspire and enable young students to pursue their dreams, no matter where they live in Canada,” says Mark.
A call to support Indigenous students
GDC is asking members and patrons to also support the Cheryl Lynn Rutledge Northern Indigenous Student Award so it can be fully funded and self-sustaining.
“This is one small way in which designers can be part of the reconciliation process,” says Mike.
To donate, click www.gdc.net/foundation/donate and donate via PayPal or credit card.
Phone toll free 1-877-496-4453 and leave a message, to donate directly by Credit Card or to discuss large or timed donations.
You may also send a cheque, payable to GDC with “Cheryl Lynn Rutledge” in the memo line, to GDC, Arts Court, 2 Daly Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6E2.
Scholarship application details
The next submission deadline for the Cheryl Lynn Rutledge Northern Indigenous Student Award is May 1, 2021.
Among other requirements, applicants must submit three portfolio samples and be a GDC student member.
For details on eligibility and how to apply, please visit our Scholarships page.
To join GDC as a student member, at a cost of only $60 per year, please complete our online membership form.