Given that it’s the end of September, we wanted to take the opportunity to focus this blog on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which also coincides with Orange Shirt Day. The Federal Government, along with a number of provinces and territories, are now recognizing September 30th as a statutory holiday. While it is not a provincial statutory holiday in Saskatchewan (or Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, or New Brunswick), many organizations are still choosing to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day as a stat holiday. And whether or not you are providing your employees with a day off, it’s important to focus time and energy to Truth and Reconciliation in your organization. As well, this should happen throughout the year, not just on or around September 30th. A great resource for information about Truth and Reconciliation can be found here (Government of Canada). Additionally, there are many other websites that offer excellent resources related to Truth and Reconciliation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission – which ran from 2008 to 2015 – developed 94 calls to action. Click here to see the full Calls to Action document. While there are several of these calls to action that your organization can focus on, we wanted to highlight #92, Business and Reconciliation, which is as follows:
Business and Reconciliation
i. 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:
ii. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
iii. 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.
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.
In our August blog post we focused on Diversity Education, which in part speaks to the above. There are some direct steps that your organization can take from an educational perspective. For example, bring in a speaker to discuss a topic such as Treaty history in Canada or provide employees with anti-racism training. These are small acts yet can be significant for each of your employees, which in turn will have a positive impact on the community/communities that your organization serves. By investing in initiatives and education that foster a more diverse and inclusive environment, your employees – and ultimately your business – will be better off for it.