June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, offering Canadians across the country the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and significant contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada.
At ARC, we are committed to forming lasting relationships with Indigenous communities built on respect, trust, and understanding. It has been our privilege to build relationships with the Indigenous communities in the traditional territories of Treaty 7 and Treaty 8 where we have operated for the last 27 years.
On the path to reconciliation, we have been focused on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92 – providing greater education to our employees on the history of Indigenous Peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties and Indigenous rights, and Indigenous-Crown relations. Over the last several years, we have offered our employees opportunities and resources to help expand their understanding of Indigenous culture and gain a better appreciation for Indigenous history.
This year, we partnered with the Calgary Foundation to facilitate impactful learning sessions focused on intergenerational trauma and the injustices arising from colonization. Employees participated in an interactive learning session that allowed them to explore the historic and present-day relationship between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
In the spirit of National Indigenous Peoples Day, we sat down with Tim Fox, Vice President, Indigenous Relations and Equity Strategy with the Calgary Foundation, to learn more about the significance of these experiences.
Q: How long have you been conducting these sessions with the Calgary Foundation?
A: I joined the Foundation in 2017 and have hosted thousands of these sessions over the last six years.
Q: What changes have you noticed over this time?
A: I’ve seen growing interest from across sectors, many outside of the industries you’d expect. It’s not just charities that are working to increase awareness, we’ve facilitated many sessions for businesses like airlines, energy production, and construction. I’m very happy to see the number of requests for sessions we receive and the willingness to learn across the community.
Q: What sessions did you facilitate for ARC Resources?
A: The first session we held was focused on Impacts of Intergenerational Trauma. The program draws attention to the current realities facing Indigenous communities and seeks to increase awareness on the need for specific Indigenous supports and service delivery. The workshop explores how the legacy of residential schools continues to impact Indigenous People and provides some suggested ways participants can work to heal together from these impacts.
We also held an interactive session called the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE), that emerged from the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers and educators, the KBE guides participants through a unique experience that can be deeply meaningful and impactful. The KBE centers the stories of Indigenous Peoples to teach what most Canadians are never taught – Indigenous history, legacy and traditions, and the struggles, harm and injustices arising from colonization.
Q: What feedback have you received on the sessions?
A: It’s a very heavy topic to discuss, and truth telling tends to bring up many emotions in participants once they gain a new perspective on how Indigenous communities and families were treated historically. But these sessions are not intended to be about guilt and shame, we don’t want people to feel anger. None of us had a hand in any of the things that were done.
I’ve heard encouraging feedback from participants who have gained greater awareness from these experiences that has allowed them to move beyond some of the notions they held to focus on patience and grace towards themselves and a better understanding of Indigenous Peoples and the challenges we face.
Q: What would you like people to know about these sessions?
A: What we are trying to do in these sessions, is offer participants a deeper understanding of why things are the way they are. It’s a process of learning and unlearning that takes time.
I truly feel called to do this work. To hold space for important conversations to occur, so that we can impact hearts and minds and change behavior. I do this work for future generations because I want Indigenous children to grow up with fewer challenges than I had.
I hope that coming out of these sessions, people are inspired to action. To become edge walkers in their circle of influence to help dispel false myths and raise awareness with their friends, family, and colleagues.
Learn more about how ARC is engaging with Indigenous communities.