Truth and reconciliation: employers’ awareness rising, but more action needed, expert says

Lily: How employers can mark the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Eight provinces and territories in Canada – Nunavut, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island – observe the federal holiday, while five others – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec – do not recognize that date as a provincial holiday this year. Private sector employers can choose to give their employees a day off.

Among the things employers can do to increase awareness and understanding around truth and reconciliation, Lendsay suggests they start by building the knowledge capital of their employees. “There is a lack of knowledge. . . so we have to educate [employees] on the truth, the story and also the contribution. Indigenous peoples brought innovations and inventions, from bunk beds and canoes to snowshoes and food.

His second recommendation is that employers develop specific work and engagement strategies to position themselves as an employer of choice. “Aboriginal people are the fastest growing labor force in Canada as a percentage of the population. The employer must therefore develop deliberate and useful strategies,” says Lendsay. “They need to look at their brand, how they prepare recruiting teams and how they engage with communities.”

Lily: How Institutional Investors Can Advance Indigenous Economic Reconciliation

The third element is implementing and measuring business performance, he says, adding that employers need to focus on the Indigenous component in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

As part of its Indigenous reconciliation strategy, IKEA Canada is working with 4 Seasons of Reconciliation to offer an online professional development course to all employees starting September 30. The program will provide foundational knowledge about truth and reconciliation, deepen historical understanding and broaden knowledge about current Indigenous realities, according to a news release.

“[IKEA believes] education is the key to reconciliation,” says Lisa Huie, Public Relations Manager at IKEA Canada. “Through education, we facilitate understanding of Indigenous perspectives, which helps promote reconciliation. Offer this learning module for everyone [employees] contributes to an environment where respect for Indigenous rights is integrated into the ongoing movements of our equality plan.

The company also hosts Indigenous art installations by the Canadian Library in its stores across the country, with bookcases with books displaying the names of missing Indigenous women and children.

Lily: Q&A with IKEA Canada’s John Williams