We Are All Treaty People

International business forum talks Reconciliation

  • Published - 25/08/2016
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  • Posted By - OTC
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Reconciliation in business was a big part of the conversation at the 2016 World Indigenous Business Forum that took place in Saskatoon this week.

“Strong, shared-value relationships drive reconciliation,” said Sean Willy, vice president of Des Nedhe Development and relationship coach with Creative Fire.

He spoke about the importance of taking the time to make relationships, to the audience of approximately 900 delegates from around the world.

Willy said, if you put your own objectives and values on the table, “more often than not, you will find common ground.”

When he talks about shared value, he means that in the end everyone is looking for some way to benefit in a business deal. He gives the example of a community wanting employment, a company wanting a good story and the government wanting to increase their tax base, so everyone benefits.

“The best way to eliminate poverty is investing in Aboriginal business,” Willy said.

Monica James with the Business Development Bank of Canada, took a moment to remind everyone of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to the business community by reading out Call to Action 92.

“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.“ (Read the complete calls to action here)

The Call to Action 92 was the centre of a presentation by vice president Stephen Lindley of SNC Lavalin, an engineering and construction group. The natural resources sector, generally, has been doing a good job of Aboriginal inclusion, he said but that the Canadian economy is more than resources.

“We’ve got a long way to go if we want to meet the challenge that’s been set out for us by the TRC,” he said.

“If we’re going to better, we’re going to have to diversify our inclusion efforts.”

Off-reserve, urban communities are growing at rate five times the rate of on-reserve communities, Lindley said, so there has to be improvement of inclusions of Aboriginal people in manufacturing, service and other sectors. He said to do that these sectors will need to continue to rely on the resource industry to lead the way.

“It’s an imperative that corporate Canada step up and take Justice Sinclair’s challenge in recommendation 92,” he said.

He makes some suggestions of what business can do:

  • Reduce reliance on the temporary foreign workers program
  • Get the conversation started, because it hasn’t started yet
  • Encourage best practices, make it good business to have an Aboriginal employment strategy
  • Reach out to young, urban populations and get to know them

“We have to work harder, smarter and faster because we have to meet this challenge sooner rather than later,” Lindley said.