A summit aimed to help employers attract and retain Indigenous talent and act on their commitment to economic reconciliation was held in Saskatoonon Tuesday.
People packed into TCU Place to participate in panel discussions and workshops brought to the province for the first time by Workforce Forward.
“It all starts with the relationships that they are going to build right here,” said Carol Crowe, Indigenous engagement consultant for Creative Fire. “They will have something to take back with them to really start initiating a reconciliation plan or where they can improve the one they already have.”
The afternoon filled with workshops was intended to help employers in human resources make their strategies more Indigenous-inclusive.
“Right now, Canada is crying out for workers and a lot of Indigenous people are still underemployed, so clearly there are a lot of big barriers there and a lot more people are calling out for Indigenous inclusion strategies, but they don’t know how to get there,” said conference producer Demi Knight.
Statistics Canada places the employment rate of Indigenous people nearly 10 per cent behind that of non-Indigenous Canadians.
“I really think the most important thing is relationships, because that is what we always say in our events. If you can learn something amazing, that’s all we really hope, is that people can meet other people here,” Knight said, “also, just to make connections with other industry professionals and Indigenous people who want to be seen and heard and how they want to be seen and heard.”
Crowe co-facilitated workshops Tuesday afternoon to help employers create reconciliation action plans.
“We can’t do this as individuals, we need to collaborate and build a reconciliation plan for Canada that is going to work and that’s actionable,” Crowe said. “The more that we can come together and have dialogue and share our perspectives, share from different world views especially, we have the opportunity to make something that is going to work.
“We have been doing this for a long time and we have a long way to go but we are on the right path.”
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