The Edmonton region is located in central Alberta, Canada, and is home to many diverse groups of people. Before it was known as Edmonton, this land was called Amiskwaciwâskahikan (ah-miss-kwa-TSEE-was-kai-gan). Translated from Nehiyawewin (Cree), this means “Beaver Hills house,” referring to the Fort Edmonton trade post which was located close to the Beaver Hills. The fort was one of the first sites in the area where economic relationships between settlers and local Indigenous peoples were established. The area has long been the home and responsibility of the Cree Saulteaux, Dene, Blackfoot, and Nakota Sioux for centuries, long before it became the Edmonton region. Under colonialism, trade relationships between Indigenous communities and businesses like the Hudson’s Bay Company boomed.
Knowing this piece of Edmonton’s economic history, we now look forward to understanding what modern-day business reconciliation must look like. Together, we must acknowledge the lasting legacies of colonialism and exploitive relationships with Indigenous peoples and determine how to build an economy with equal partnership and opportunity, respect, and accountability.
Call to Action 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In 2015, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission requested 93 calls to action to facilitate reconciliation across all industries and areas of life. Call to Action 92 specifically calls upon the business industry:
“Business and Reconciliation – 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. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:
Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.
Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations. This will require skills based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.”
Guidebook for Canadian Business Reconciliation
The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business released the Business Reconciliation in Canada Guidebook as the starting place for Canadian businesses to begin building relationships with Indigenous businesses and communities. The guidebook promotes learning, awareness and provides strategic direction for Canadian businesses of all sizes to build partnerships as part of their responsibility in reconciliation. In section 5.1 of the Guidebook, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business describes three broad ways to encourage reconciliation and restorative business-to-community relationships: educate, reflect, and act.
Resources for National Indigenous History Month
Resources for your education
Ways to be active through National Indigenous History Month
As Edmonton Global strives to transform and grow the economy of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, it is imperative that we continue to intertwine our work with reconciliation. In alignment with the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business, we can continue to educate ourselves and reflect upon our actions, attitudes, and behaviours. We can act in reconciliation by creating and maintaining close relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations and continuing to listen to Indigenous voices on all matters.