June is National Indigenous History Month, a time to reflect on the history of Canada's Indigenous peoples, to acknowledge how far we have come and the work that still needs to be done and to celebrate the unique culture of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. As we continue to educate ourselves, we encourage our employees, families, and business partners to take advantage of the resources and initiatives listed below. First, however, we wanted to share some exciting news:
This month, GSC is proud to join the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business as a Business Member.
The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) positions Indigenous business at the focal point for strengthening Indigenous communities, promoting progressive and prosperous relationships, and growing a new economy based on mutual respect and shared prosperity. Business Members of the CCAB are non-Indigenous organizations that are committed to creating relationships with and supporting Indigenous businesses and communities. We are honoured to be among the newest members of this network and to take action to strengthen our relationships with Indigenous enterprises and communities.
GSC is committed to engaging and collaborating with Indigenous partners in many ways, including:
- Investing in Indigenous-led social impact initiatives with organizations like Indspire (Indigenous education), the Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund (COVID relief), Anishnawbe Health Foundation (via Toronto Foundation – mental health), the Mawita’mk Society (via Community Foundation of Nova Scotia – mental health) and the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre (via Hamilton Community Foundation – mental health).
- Celebrating Indigenous culture by supporting and participating in events when invited, such as the Alumni & Student Pow Wow (Windsor) and the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival (Ottawa).
- Offering ongoing education and learning opportunities to our employees.
- Advocating for reconciliation and commemorating the important dates of Indigenous communities.
How GSCers, friends and family can get involved
There are hundreds of celebrations and educational events happening across Canada this month. Find one that is meaningful to you and join us in honouring Indigenous history and culture. Here are some ways to get started:
- The Government of Canada has a detailed list of resources and events available to all Canadians.
- On June 19, the 2022 Indspire Awards will be broadcast on CBC and APTN. The Indspire Awards represent the highest honour the Indigenous community bestows upon its own people.
- In honour of Indigenous History Month, The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund is pleased to present a series of four events in celebration of the diversity of Indigenous Peoples across Canada.
Continue learning, understanding, and advocating
Truth and reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was created through a legal settlement between Residential Schools Survivors, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit representatives and the federal government and church bodies. The TRC’s mandate was to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. The TRC documented the truth of survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience. The Calls to Action document's a list of 94 actions to be undertaken by the government, non-profits, the private sector, and all sectors of society to advance reconciliation. Progress on the Calls to Action has been slow, with only eleven completed as of December 2021. To change this, all Canadians should familiarize themselves with the TRC and the Calls to Action.
Formal learning opportunities
- The University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada course is a free, 12-week program that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. You can complete it online at your own pace.
- The University of Toronto’s “Aboriginal Worldviews and Education” course explores Indigenous ways of knowing and highlights how they can benefit all students. Topics include historical, social, and political issues in Indigenous education; terminology; cultural, spiritual and philosophical themes in Indigenous worldviews; and how Indigenous worldviews can inform professional programs and practices. The course is free and takes 14 hours to complete.
Informal learning opportunities and culture
- UBC’s Indigenous Peoples Language Guidelines
- Indigenous Corporate Training: 7 First Nation Facts You Should Know
- Indigenous Corporate Training: 10 Things You Can Do: Kamloops Indian Residential School
- Amnesty International: 10 Ways to Be a Genuine Ally to Indigenous Communities
- Historica Canada podcast on Residential Schools
- The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion: The future-forward - Fireside chat with Kelly Lendsay, President & CEO of Indigenous Works (Webinar on June 21, 2:30 p.m. ET)
- The CBC’s 35 books to read for National Indigenous History Month
- The CBC’s 10 books about residential schools to read with your kids
- Assembly of First Nations’ Education Toolkit
Advocating for truth and reconciliation
The scope of the tragedy of Canada's residential school system is so large, and it can be hard to know how we as individuals can make a meaningful difference, especially after decades of inaction. Here are some ways we can personally advocate for reconciliation:
- Learn about the traditional territories, languages and treaties in your area at native-land.ca and whose.land, and understand how to acknowledge the history of the land on which you live with a territory acknowledgement. Acknowledgement, a video from the Toronto History Museums, sheds light on how Indigenous people’s lives and histories have shaped Toronto’s origins and asks the question: in this era of reconciliation, how do we acknowledge our collective history?
- Write to your MP to ask that the Government of Canada provide adequate attention and resources to address all 94 TRC Calls to Action.
- The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) provides a global perspective on Indigenous rights and culture. Canada originally voted against the adoption of UNDRIP in 2007, though legislation was proposed in 2020 to implement UNDRIP in Canada, under the umbrella of Bill C-15.
Support Indigenous groups and businesses
As a company, GSC is committed to increasing our support of Indigenous peoples through our Social Impact programs. For those seeking ways to contribute, below are some organizations providing support to Indigenous communities and focusing on Indigenous issues:
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is based in B.C. and provides counselling and support services to the survivors of residential schools and their families. The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society also focuses on the well-being of Indigenous children and youth.
- Friendship Centres are Canada’s most significant urban Indigenous service delivery infrastructure. Find a list of Friendship Centres at the National Association of Friendship Centres for locations in your area.
- Many organizations across Canada are working to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Some of these include the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, Reconciliation Canada, Orange Shirt Day, the Legacy of Hope Foundation, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (at the University of Manitoba), all of which focus on advancing reconciliation.
- Indspire is the largest Indigenous-led charity in Canada and invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
Finally, don't forget to celebrate
National Indigenous History Month is recognized throughout June, culminating on June 21st – the summer solstice – with the celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day. We must continue to recognize and celebrate the richness of Indigenous culture, history and traditions, and strongly encourage everyone to take part and get involved:
- The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival is a multi-disciplinary arts festival in June that brings together Indigenous artists, performers, educators, students, and community members to share knowledge and celebrate Canada’s diverse Indigenous cultures.
- Indigenous Corporate Training has a list of 11 Ways to Virtually Celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, with options for everyone to get involved.
- Support Indigenous artists and businesses in your community. If you’re ordering books online, for example, check out this list of Black and Indigenous-owned bookstores across the country.