November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States, an opportunity to celebrate the richness of Native and Indigenous history, culture, and traditions. WayNative, Wayfair’s North American Native and Indigenous Employee Resource Group (ERG), focuses on creating an inclusive environment that supports indigenous populations and offers a space for conversation within the community.
Cindy Woodson, a Customer Specialist at Wayfair, is a proud member of WayNative. She grew up in the foster care system and often had parents that punished her for participating in Native culture. It wasn’t until she became a Wayfairian that Cindy developed the confidence to recognize and celebrate her heritage and identity.
In spring 2021, when the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in Canada, Cindy was incredibly impacted by the news and felt compelled to do more. Having been part of other ERGs at Wayfair like WayBlack for employees who identify as Black, African, African-American, Caribbean, or Caribbean-American and WayOut for employees who identify as LGBTQ+, Cindy reached out to her manager and discovered the WayNative community. Cindy also became inspired to get involved with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) campaign, an initiative to shed light on and stop the violence against Native and Indigenous women.
“As a member of WayNative, I am inspired to share the stories behind my heritage and the challenges that impact my community. So few people understand our history and I can personally attest that the challenges we face aren’t things that happened one hundred years ago –– they are still happening today.”
This month, WayNative is celebrating Native Heritage Month by participating in Orange Shirt Day, an initiative in response to the MMIW campaign to highlight the impact of the residential school system on the well-being of Indigenous children. WayNative also hosted an art contest to celebrate Native craft and traditions and ran an internal employee spotlight featuring Native and Indigenous Wayfarians and their stories. The group also partnered with our WayCaregivers ERG to co-host an event about how to speak with kids about what Thanksgiving means to Native and Indigenous communities.
“For many years, I was not allowed to celebrate my culture or who I am. I was scared to even check a box saying that I was Native or Indigenous. But people around me at Wayfair have helped me to be proud of who I am, because they've shown me they're proud of who they are and that everybody is made in their own way. So finally, after years and years, I am no longer ashamed. I want that for every Native person out there.”
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