As more and more Canadians are learning the tragic chapters of our collective history, it is important that we reflect on the future we want to create, our role in reconciliation, how we can act as allies to Indigenous peoples and how we can make workplaces a safe place where everyone feels included.
In June, National Indigenous History Month, Randstad Canada’s Indigenous Allyship group organized a round table to learn more about Indigenous cultures and what employers can do to open up their talent pools and engage with Indigenous talent. Furthermore, September 30th will mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Here are some insights shared by Bianca Launière, a member of the Innu Nation of Mashteuitash and Gilbert Niquay from Manawan, Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Nation, to help you attract and retain Indigenous talent.
acknowledge the land you are on
When you acknowledge the territory you are on, you’re sending a message of equity, respect and creating a safe space for members of Ingenious communities. You can acknowledge the territory you’re on before an interview or meeting with an Indigenous person, at the beginning of a presentation, or simply by including it in your email signature or LinkedIn bio. Not sure where to start? Learn about the why and how of land acknowledgement.
provide support and be patient
“There are high drop-out rates and, on top of that, Indigenous communities often lack training,” Gilbert explains. As organizations, we play an important role in providing opportunities and offering support. This means quality time needs to be invested in onboarding, training, mentorship/buddy programs and simply getting to know the employees we hire. “Patience is also an important quality employers need to develop” Bianca suggests. Respect the person’s individual adaptation period and give them time to learn before expecting high performance.
empower not victimize
“There is a tendency to view Indigenous peoples as victims that need saving. Instead, work to understand their needs and the needs of their communities,” Gilbert suggests. If you want to attract Indigenous talent to your organization and develop successful partnerships, treat them as you would a partner or a client - explore what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.
embark on a learning journey
“Before changing the world, start by changing yourself,” Bianca concludes. Attracting Indigenous talent to your organization starts with learning: read books by Indigenous authors, learn history from the lens of Indigenous peoples, attend pow wows. A great source of learning are Indegenous-led organizations that often offer corporate training and free guides, such as Mikana, a Montreal-based NGO Gilbert Niquay works with. Finally, don’t be afraid to make mistakes - it’s a natural part of a learning journey.