Two years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) presented its report and along with it, 92 recommendations. We have an extraordinary opportunity in our province and our country to impact the next 150 years of our history.
The TRC’s work unveiled a dark side of our past and as a country we are at a turning point where everyone can take a stand and make positive changes for the future. In our conversations, the issue of guilt often comes up. In one of many interviews given by the Honourable Paul Martin, he summed it up beautifully: “In terms of this idea of guilt we should know our history and our history is not very pretty. I can’t answer for what happened 50 years ago, but if my grandchildren ask me what I did in my life in terms of this issue and there hasn’t been an improvement, then I certainly should feel guilt and I don’t want to and I don’t think any Canadian wants to.”
As our country embraces the Calls to Action, it is important to remember that simple actions can produce important changes. Building relationships with Indigenous people starts with generating awareness. Here are just some examples that a number of organizations are already doing.
- Hosting a luncheon at work to provide education about the Indigenous community to their employees and hiring an Indigenous caterer to provide a truly unique meal experience
- Placing advertising in local and national Indigenous media
- Including Indigenous interesting facts in their newsletters
- Showcasing Indigenous artists by purchasing their works of art and prominently displaying them in their places of business
- Creating a bursary or scholarship for Indigenous students that aligns with their business
- Sponsoring Indigenous events or activities
- Fostering an internal culture that encourages staff and business associates to reach out and become better informed about the Indigenous community
- Learning more about the environmental needs of Indigenous communities and supporting them
- Supporting initiatives that support the well-being of Indigenous youth, Elders and other community members
- Attending cultural events or bringing them in-house
- Recruiting Indigenous talents or speakers to share their inspiring stories, knowledge or expertise to your organization and staff
- Watching Indigenous television networks or listening to Indigenous radio stations to explore different media coverage and content
- Partnering with local art galleries to showcase Indigenous artists
- Purchasing products or services from Indigenous suppliers
- Register to become a part of a Leadership Circle such as with Indigenous Works “which is a successful employer focused networked that brings together Canada’s leading inclusion employers.”
- Become a member of a network such as the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business where they can help you develop your own Progressive Aboriginal Relations(PAR)
Call to Action #92 is dedicated to the corporate sector, a call that hundreds of corporations are embracing and slowly transforming their corporate culture.
We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
ii.Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
iii. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
What can you do to foster better awareness and support of Indigenous people and culture? Become familiar with the TRC Calls to Action and register your actions with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation www.nctr.ca. Let us build a brighter future for all Canadians.