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Starting in 2021, Canadians will recognize September 30th as The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a day we have also recognized as Orange Shirt Day. The passing of Bill C-5 allows the opportunity for all of us to acknowledge and commemorate the legacy of residential schools and honour Call to Action #80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
|Call to Action #80 – We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.|
We recognize that not all paths towards reconciliation are the same, but on your path we encourage you to listen, learn, reflect, and then act as you participate in reconciliation not just on this day but every day.
To support our members, CPHR Alberta has collaborated with Rise Consulting to put together the following resources on how you can respond to this important call to action as an HR professional and leader.
What is The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an opportunity for us to listen and learn from Indigenous leaders, elders, artists, and knowledge keepers on their lived experiences and perspectives. It should be used as a day to honour those impacted by residential schools and to learn more about Indigenous culture and perspectives.
We can all honour this day by purchasing an orange shirt from organizations that are Indigenous-led or Indigenous-owned, and where the proceeds are given directly to the Orange Shirt Society or another Indigenous charity or non-profit in your community. We can participate in this day by spending time listening, learning, and reflecting. This is our chance to walk together on our collective pathway of reconciliation.
- MacEwan Bookstore - $10.00/shirt, proceeds donated to the Orange Shirt Society
- Moonstone Creations - $20.00/shirt
- Rise Consulting - $45/shirt, all proceeds donated to Metis Nation of British Columbia Youth Programs
- British Columbia - Indigenous Printing & Office Solutions - $10/shirt, $25/hoodie, proceeds donated to Orange Shirt Society
- Native Northwest - $19.99/shirt, proceeds donated to the Orange Shirt Society, BC Aboriginal Child Care Association, and Native Northwest Reconciliation Fund.
- Strong Nations - $15.95/shirt, a portion of the proceeds donated to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS)
- Ontario - Aboriginal Healing Foundations - $20.00 adult/$15 youth, proceeds donated to Legacy of Hope Foundation
- Our Feather Clothing Co. - $26.99+ (adult and child, t-shirts, hoodies, hats) proceeds donated to the Legacy of Hope Foundation
- Prince Edward Island - Mi’kmaq Printing and Design - $20.00/shirt (adult and child)
How can HR professionals and leaders respond?
Successful reconciliation and Indigenous inclusion take intent and time.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Principle of Reconciliation #5 "reconciliation must create a more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health, and economic outcomes that exist" between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Business and economic reconciliation require organizations and professionals to consider Indigenous peoples, communities, and businesses. As HR professionals you already have a seat at the table, engaging with your business leaders, creating people strategy and operational plans in areas that can positively impact reconciliation, including talent acquisition and management, learning and development, compensation and benefits, EDI, employee relations, and more. Organizations must build and renew their relationships with Indigenous peoples and employees for the betterment of all.
Listen, Learn, Reflect, Act
Reconciliation is a process of healing relationships that require public truth sharing, apology, and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms. This starts with listening to the truth of the past and current harm that has impacted Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.
Read the TRC’s calls to action and know which apply to you;
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission: 94 Calls to Action
- The Honourable Murray Sinclair on How Canadians can work toward reconciliation
Listen to the impact of colonialism, racism, and the harms that have created disadvantages for Indigenous peoples;
- Woodland Cultural Centre: Residential School Virtual Tour
- A Mother’s Voice by Holly Fortier
- Decolonization is for Everyone by Nikki Sanchez
Educating yourself, and taking accountability for building knowledge, is an ongoing process and change will not be easy. This step will look different for your role or organization as you seek to build knowledge internally through cultural awareness and externally about the Indigenous business landscape and economic development.
- Build cultural awareness: Indigenous Canada, University Alberta
- Seek to understand the Indigenous experience in the workplace and how workplaces can benefit from Indigenous professionals and culture
- Building Inclusion for Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Workplaces from Catalyst
- Indigenous Teachings for Leaders from Workplace Strategies for Mental Health:
- Learn about Indigenous businesses and communities that are around your organization
Before action takes place, take the time to think deeply about the intentional response to reconciliation. This often means an internal reflection about motivations and applying learnings in a meaningful way.
- Do I know what my organization is doing in response to reconciliation?
- What could reconciliation look like for my team, my role, my organization?
- What do Indigenous communities and businesses want out of a partnership?
- Which Indigenous business needs and goals can my organization address?
The calls to action say that “Canadians must do more than talk about reconciliation we must learn how to practice reconciliation in our workplaces”.
The call for corporate Canada to respond to TRC action #92 must be built on a strong foundation with organizational focus, leadership support, and a commitment to achieve equitable representation of Indigenous peoples in your workforce, business development and procurement opportunities with Indigenous-owned businesses, and focused engagement with Indigenous communities.
#92 Business and Reconciliation - 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:
i. 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.
The below illustrates some of the ways you can act in reconciliation. Start with creating a space for idea generation and intentional dialogue. From there, move into the creation of a strategy with goals, actions, and measures.
Suggestions for ways you can respond – Determine how your organization moves throughout the spectrum based on your needs. These will require support by a vision and strategy for reconciliation and Indigenous inclusion.
For more information and resources on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion visit our DEI resource page here.