Cultural Compentency Panel
A discussion focused on how designers are working with Indigenous and minority communities to produce work that is relevant, authentic and culturally aware.




Rahul Bhogal RGD, Founder/Designer at Nothing Design Studio

Rahul is an award-winning graphic designer working in the fields of brand identity and digital design. His work can be seen in Applied Arts Mag, Logo Lounge 11, Win Out Mag, and the Best Brand Awards, including Best Brand North America. With over a decade of industry experience, he has worked with notable brands like Snap Inc, UCLA, Saint-Gobain, autoTrader, CanLan Ice Sports, and Telus. He focuses on idea-driven strategy and design to create advance timeless identities for clients across the globe.


Alain Giroux, Manager of Creative Services at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada 

Alain is a Métis from the Ottawa region (mix of French, Algonquin and Huron) and is currently the Manager of Creative Services at Indigenous Services Canada, also serving as Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. Alain started his design career in 1999 both in the private sector and for the government and has been in this department for 15 years. He has worked on many design projects for First Nations, Inuit and Métis services and programs delivered by the government. He is also an artist doing abstract art and a musician that plays the drums and composes electronic music.


Mark Rutledge CGD, Lead Designer at Animikii Inc.

Mark has over 25 years of design experience combined with an intimate understanding of the creative process. Animikii is a digital agency that builds custom software, web-applications and websites. As the Lead Designer, he works with leading Indigenous groups across North America by leveraging technology for social, economic and cultural initiatives. As a 100% Indigenous-owned technology company he works with clients to implement solutions that amplify these efforts and achieve better outcomes for Indigenous people in these areas. Animikii is based in British Columbia on Coast Salish territory. 




Jennifer Taback RGD, Principal at Design de Plume Inc.

Jennifer is an Anishinaabe kwe from Shawanaga First Nation and has worked in the design industry for over a decade as a partner and Principal at Design de Plume Inc. She is a skilled communicator whose background working in a variety of fields allows her to combine the best creative and technical practices available to create beautiful change making campaigns for her clients. She has won a Northern Ontario Business Award in 2014 for her work as a young entrepreneur in Northern Ontario along with DDP winning Indigenous Business of the Year Award in 2019. She currently serves on the board for RGD and the Nickel Basin Federal Development Fund. 


Discussion Questions:


1. What do you think it means to be culturally competent?

2. Why is being culturally competent important for designers?

3. In what ways have you benefited from being more culturally competent as a designer?

4. How has the inherent bias of the design field to favour "Western minimalism" impacted your work?

5. Do you think technology helps or hinders designers ability to work with cultures outside of their own?

6. What is some advice you have for designers who are looking to work with a culture they might not be familiar with?