CertifiNATION: The Facts

Adrian Jean CGD, President of the GDC outlines the facts about CGD Certification, and responds to RGD Ontario's challenge of it.

Canada's graphic and communication design profession is served by three professional associations that include the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD Ontario) serving Ontario, the Société des designers graphiques du Québec (SDGQ) serving Quebec, and the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC®) serving all of Canada and Canadians working abroad. Each association is an independent membership organization with their own individual systems for qualifying the skills of design professionals.

Since the GDC® was founded more than 55 years ago we have been certifying the services of graphic and communication designers who meet specific professional standards.

We believe a strong and relevant national certification system requires input by Canadian designers from every province and territory in this country.

The key point of difference is that CGD™ certification is a truly national system of measure for the graphic and communication design profession, available to all Canadian designers regardless of the province, territory or country they reside in.

CGD™ certification requires applicants to show experience, a specific level of skill and knowledge with real world work examples and rationales, and agree to Codes of Professional Conduct and Sustainability. The CGD™ certification process is fair, consistent, thorough, measurable, and with more than 55 years of working knowledge backing it, proven over time.

The GDC® has succeeded in implementing this system through the creation of a National Certification Board and the CGD™ Certification Mark.

A certification mark is defined as a mark used for the specific purpose of distinguishing wares or services that are of a defined standard. Under Canadian law, trademarks, designations, accreditations, or post-nominal honourifics are not certification marks. The CGD™ certification mark is Canada’s first, and only, certification mark for graphic and communication designers.

As such the GDC® stands 100% firmly behind the statements made in our recent Applied Arts (March/2013) ad titled "CertifiNATION" (download) – as a point of fact and national pride.

CGD™ certification is also recognized as a proven and robust model internationally. We are presently working with the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) to develop and implement a national certification program (like CGD™) in Australia, based upon what we’ve done here across Canada. The outcome of this working partnership with AGDA will include the global positioning of CGD™ certification as an example of world best practice and paves the way for the development of a global certification system that may be available for designers in other countries. Canadian designers today can be very proud of these achievements.

Over the years we have worked closely with many allied associations and industry leaders. We've been a member of Icograda (the International Council of Communication Design) since 1974 and are one of the ten largest professional association members in Icograda. The GDC® is also formally allied with the Société des designers graphiques du Québec (SDGQ), representing graphic designers in Quebec, and the University and College Designers Association (UCDA) as well as CAPIC.

The fact is, RGD Ontario was formed in 1996 through the amalgamation of the GDC chapters in Ontario, and was a Member Association of the GDC® up until October 2003. RGD Ontario’s legislation, Bill Pr56 1996, grants it the right to register its members and provide the R.G.D. (Registered Graphic Designer) honourific, to those Ontario residents who qualify through their provincial system.

Over the past several years, every attempt by GDC® Presidents to work with RGD Ontario has been met with increasing hostility (such as legal action against the GDC®) or failed outright due to seemingly unchangeable internal RGD Ontario perspectives formed in the early days of RGD Ontario's separation from the GDC®.

With their recent press release, RGD Ontario is embarking on an unfortunate public campaign of misinformation and misdirection that is hurtful, not only to us, but also the creative profession in Ontario, and Canada. It's designers who are caught in the middle and stand to lose the most when an organization such as RGD Ontario lashes out instead of truly looking for ways to work together, which is what our ad is all about — Asking Canadians to work together to raise the bar for our profession and help cultivate successful and fulfilling careers as creative professionals, no matter where they call home.

I invite RGD Ontario members to contact their representatives and encourage the RGD Ontario executive to find new ways to work with the GDC - for everyone's benefit.

For more information contact the GDC's Executive Director, Melanie Macdonald:, 1-877 496 4453