top of page
  • Writer's pictureCCE

7 Steps You Can Take to Work Towards Economic Reconciliation

Updated: Jun 10

Did you know that Canada’s Indigenous population is the fastest growing population in the country – growing 9.4% from 2016 to 2021? Statistics Canada’s 2021 Census found the Indigenous population to be the youngest group, on average, being 8.2 years younger than the non-Indigenous population. An analysis of private sector businesses by majority ownership found that only 1.7% are Indigenous-owned. Still, Indigenous people are starting new businesses 9x the national average.


Jamie Lerat, a First Nation-Metis woman from Cowessess First Nation with 14+ years of experience driving the Aboriginal agenda within the corporate realm, explains that government actions towards reconciliation are not enough. Dependence on government funding does not eliminate poverty among Indigenous communities. Reconciliation relies on organizations across the country to make deliberate changes to their policies and practices to enact real change. This collaboration is the only way for Indigenous communities to sustain themselves independently.


Here are 7 steps Jamie recommends taking to work towards economic reconciliation.


1. Embrace your role in economic reconciliation

People's hands stacked in a circle

It’s more than words and signed documents – it’s a commitment to continuous consideration for Indigenous well-being and prosperity. You have a social, moral and ethical responsibility to support the economic empowerment of Indigenous communities. At every step you have the opportunity to choose a path that supports Indigenous communities and working towards economic reconciliation. Regardless if you are a decision-maker or not, you have a voice and the power to influence the attitudes and behaviours of others.


2. Acknowledge your unconscious bias

Woman looking at her reflection

Unconscious biases are often shaped by societal stereotypes, experiences and cultural contexts. Examine how it impacts hiring decisions, interpersonal interactions and procurement opportunities in your workplace. Take the time to reflect on your behaviours and attitudes towards Indigenous people and evaluate how these biases are impacting your decisions. Recognizing and addressing your biases provides a more empathetic perspective that will facilitate honest and productive collaboration.


3. Evaluate your organization’s current policies and structures

Magnifying glass over wooden cube with lightbulb graphic and multiple wooden cubes with questions marks around it

Carefully examine the implications of existing policies and investigate how they can be improved by including an action plan and strategy that works towards reconciliation. Keep in mind the diversity of Indigenous communities across Canada, each with their unique identity and set of challenges they face. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution, policies must be modified to fit distinct needs and situations within your given territory. Have conversations about potential issues and shortcomings that can be modified to reflect a more inclusive approach.


4. Familiarize yourself with legal and political policies and regulations

Man reading a document on his desk

Ensure your business plan and strategy align with evolving legal frameworks and regulatory requirements. Avoid potential issues that may impact your organizational activities and relationships. It’s important to be proactive as changes relating to Indigenous rights and land claims will require significant consideration. This will also allow you to engage in genuine and informed conversation with Indigenous communities and work together to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy.


5. Cultivate a safe space for sharing Indigenous perspectives

Two women having a serious conversation

These could be internal conversations between work teams or external with partners and the community. Be responsive to criticisms and facilitate open and genuine conversations. Approach these conversations with the aim to work collaboratively rather than against each other. By incorporating Indigenous voices you diversify and broaden your vision, knowledge and practices. You will boost your innovation by gaining a well-rounded perspective of your overall community and their distinct needs and experiences.


6. Create economic opportunity

Young First Nations Woman outside business using smartphone

Excluding Indigenous workers and Indigenous-owned businesses only reinforces the barriers that prevent their communities from evolving economically. You can establish partnerships with Indigenous communities that support their economic well-being and self-determination. This is an opportunity for your organization to tap into new markets, resources and talent pools. Start by reaching out to Indigenous-owned businesses for your procurement needs and ensure you are advertising job opportunities within Indigenous communities. Ensure your hiring team is not discriminating against applicants by performing regular reviews of the process and requiring training.


7. Make decisions that support long-term sustainability

Children running in a playground

Support the long-term sustainability of Indigenous communities by investing in initiatives that contribute to their economic well-being and self-determination. This will also benefit other communities in Canada by building a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable economy for future generations. A commitment to support economic reconciliation should not be a one-time gimmick for publicity or to appease current social discourses – it should aim to create lasting change.


Economic Reconciliation requires organizations across the country to invest in Indigenous business development. By making key changes in prevailing policies and practices you will begin fostering inclusivity and fairness in your workplace that will exude out into the community. Indigenous people are capable of achieving so much more if organizations are willing to support their efforts. While it may not be an easy path to make these necessary changes, they will lead to a better future.


Learn more about Business Relationships:


Professional Development Has Never Been More Affordable

Take advantage of these funding options:

Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant for up to $10,000 for employee training.

Re-Skill Saskatchewan Training Subsidy for 100% training cost coverage.

Canada Training Credit for $250 per year (unused years carry forward).



bottom of page