Manitoba

Winnipeg business leaders gather to bring truth and reconciliation into the workplace

Among the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action, there was a request for businesses to play a role in healing the relationship between Canada and Indigenous people.
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce panel will take place at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Monday. (Michael Fazio/CBC)

Among the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action, there was a request for businesses to play a role in healing the relationship between Canada and Indigenous people.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is bringing together local businesses for a panel discussion on actionable steps to reconciliation on Monday morning.

"My main hope is really the connections I think," said Jessica Dumas, a panelist and a past chair of the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce.

"[To] have the conversations, ask the questions and connect with Indigenous professionals and community people."

Touching on her own life experience, Dumas said she struggled with her own Indigenous identity growing up.

"I was embarrassed to talk about being Aboriginal and it was because of the messages I was getting from everywhere else," she said.

Panels and education will break those cycles of stereotypes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, Dumas said. To get to that point, there will have to be a lot of questions asked and answered, some of them uncomfortable, she added.

"I'm excited that people are interested in hearing about it, talking about it, people have questions," she said.

"And I hope that what we are doing is creating an environment where people are more comfortable to ask questions, because I know there are a lot of questions."

The panel at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at 11:30 a.m. will introduce business leaders to Indigenous people and give them the skills to bring reconciliation into their businesses.

Dumas said she hopes the panel leads to staff meetings dedicated to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations and employers finding out what business practices can lead to barriers for Indigenous employees.

"Maybe not everyone is ready to have that conversation, but it needs to happen in an open place so that we can feel comfortable enough with these conversations that we can go home and talk to our kids about them," she said.

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