Calgary, September 25, 2023 – In advance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, a day to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools and their families, the Calgary Chamber reiterates the importance of advancing reconciliation across the business community.
Indigenous Peoples in Canada have faced a long history of systemic injustices including residential schools, land dispossession and cultural assimilation policies, which have led to profound intergenerational trauma. Commemorating the history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process with Indigenous people and communities across Canada.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) was established in 2008 to provide an opportunity to those who were directly or indirectly affected by residential schools to share their stories and to bring awareness of Canada’s history with Indigenous Peoples. The TRCC emphasizes that it is everyone’s responsibility to improve relationships with Indigenous communities. In 2015, the Commission released a report with 94 ‘Calls to Action’ including Call 92 for corporate Canada to advance reconciliation in business.
Advancing reconciliation must be an all-hands-on-deck effort including the corporate sector. In response to Call to Action 92, businesses should be focused on creating policies and practices that commit to building respectful relationships and engaging with Indigenous people and communities; promoting equitable access to jobs, training and education; and educating employees on the history and experiences of Indigenous Peoples including the history and legacy of residential schools.
Economic Reconciliation aims to create meaningful partnerships and mutually beneficial opportunities with Indigenous Peoples following decades of historical injustices, and the economic benefits of advancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples can create significant impact for everyone involved. In 2020, Indigenous people contributed almost $50 billion to Canada’s economy.
According to the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, if Indigenous Peoples had access to the same education and training as non-Indigenous peoples, the resulting increase in productivity would mean an additional $8.5 billion in income earned annually by the Indigenous population. Similarly, if Indigenous people and communities had the same access to economic opportunities available to other Canadians, it would result in an additional $6.9 billion per year in employment income and approximately 135,000 newly employed Indigenous people.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESS?
“A commitment to business reconciliation provides opportunities for new partnerships and business and investment opportunities. It allows corporations to connect with a large and impressive group of professionals and businesses that can offer unique perspectives, knowledge and expertise. Fostering sustainable business relations between Indigenous Peoples and Canadian business leads to greater profitability, supply chain agility and flexibility, variety of economic opportunity, and social and cultural outcomes. All parties benefit.
Ignoring Call to Action 92 has implications for a company’s operations and bottom line. The risks to companies that fail to develop positive Indigenous relations include reputational damage, regulatory intervention, litigation, project delays and disruptions, shutdowns and financial loss. All business owners and leaders have a direct role to play in supporting business reconciliation.” ~ The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
For the private sector, supporting and employing more Indigenous people is just good business. Indigenous people are the youngest and fastest growing population in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the number of employed Indigenous people grew by almost 45 per cent between 2006 and 2016, and recent estimates show this trend continuing, projecting the Indigenous population to grow by more than 50 per cent by 2041. When looking at labour market needs – the future economy is Indigenous.
Improving relationships with Indigenous Peoples and engaging in reconciliation is an economic imperative for business success: it can generate new ideas by incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing, improve competitiveness, connect with new markets and ultimately lead to better results.
STEPS YOUR BUSINESS CAN TAKE
While economic reconciliation is complex, there are actions businesses of all sizes and sectors can take including:
Offering Indigenous awareness training and education
Acknowledging traditional lands through meaningful territorial land acknowledgements
Developing an Indigenous employment strategy
Hiring Indigenous Peoples
Engaging with Indigenous communities and businesses regularly
Establishing committees to create a work environment that supports the diverse needs and backgrounds of Indigenous employees
Embracing Indigenous ways of knowing into your business
Creating mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for young Indigenous employees to advance professional development
Seeking mutually beneficial business partnerships with Indigenous-owned businesses
Investing in community initiatives that benefit the local Indigenous community
Sponsoring or participating in local Indigenous events
Establishing Indigenous procurement policies
Economic reconciliation not only creates a positive impact for Indigenous Peoples, but it also generates value and promotes collaboration amongst businesses and communities. The Calgary Chamber of Commerce remains committed to advancing the Indigenous businesses and organizations we serve, and we continue to learn and reflect as we move forward with our Indigenous partners and communities.
ABOUT THE CALGARY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Calgary Chamber exists to help businesses reach their potential. As the convenor and catalyst for a vibrant, inclusive and prosperous business community, the Chamber works to build strength and resilience among its members and position Calgary as a magnet for talent, diversification and opportunity. As an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 1891, we build on our history to serve and advocate for businesses of all sizes, in all sectors across the city.