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Published On: Wednesday, 07 June 2017

Coming Together, Making Progress?

Coming Together, Making Progress?

- Julie Lawlor is the Executive Director at the WestShore Chamber of Commerce. You can reach her at jlawlor@westshore.bc.ca.

WEST SHORE - In March a historic land transfer agreement was made between Beecher Bay, Langford and Metchosin, and in April, Royal Roads University (RRU) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Songhees Nation regarding the Department of National Defence land disposition process.

This memorandum provides a framework for cooperation outlining that the Songhees Nation and RRU will work together to better understand each other’s goals. The Songhees Nation’s approach to Royal Roads University was welcomed by President Allan Cahoon. “We feel the MOU is an important symbol of respect between the university and the Songhees Nation and we consider it to be a positive development,” Allan stated.

Resonating with this approach, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released "Coming Together, Making Progress: Business’s Role in Reconciliation with Indigenous People" in May. Following on from the release of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2015, in 2016 the Canadian Chamber sought perspectives of Aboriginal and business leaders on how business can help support the TRC report.

Based on feedback from its members, the Canadian Chamber knows that “Canada’s businesses want to do more in the interests of their projects moving forward, including sincere engagement of and consultation with Indigenous peoples in their workforces and as project partners. However, it is not always clear to businesses what reconciliation means, what is required of them to participate in it or what impacts and outcomes they can expect as a result.”

This statement echoes conversations I have had with people in the business community, where I have consistently heard that people are concerned about causing offense through a lack of cultural understanding. The good news is that there are loads of resources on offer to fit every size and type of business, and every size and type of budget.

We have a great opportunity in the West Shore to make use of the services offered by the Indigenous Perspectives Society (IPS). Their one-day Cultural Perspectives Training provides an excellent starting point by helping “governments, organizations, businesses and individuals deepen their understanding and develop actionable ideas to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.”

At the WestShore Chamber we are pleased to connect businesses with the resources they need. For further information, please give us a call on 250.478.1130 or you can check out our Member Directory at westshore.bc.ca.