In his 2011 report, University of Saskatchewan Professor Eric Howe reported that the value, beyond any social or moral purpose, of bridging the Indigenous education gap and bringing the Saskatchewan Indigenous population to the same economic level as the broader population is a $90 billion opportunity. There is little doubt that this is the most important economic opportunity on Saskatchewan’s horizon.

Frequently Asked Questions about Indigenous Engagement

1. What is an environmental scan and how can I do one?

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Performing an environmental scan is essential and will assist you in better understanding the Indigenous landscape and help you and your company build the confidence required to become more engagement ready.

Understanding the scan and its various components can help you build your company’s business case for Indigenous engagement and help you recognize and assess the opportunities available. The scan is a tool that may assist you in recognizing when your engagement strategy is being compromised. Efforts to build Indigenous relationships will be supported through sound business and economic targets, many of which will be identified through the scan.

The environmental scan is also a good opportunity to uncover knowledge gaps and barriers. In order to achieve the elements of your Indigenous Engagement strategy, you must ensure that your employees and managers have the right knowledge, tools, and strategies available to them.

Remember, leadership sets the tone for your company’s overall culture and engagement with Indigenous peoples, businesses and communities.

Here a few questions you can consider that may assist in the environmental scan:

  • What is your organization’s objective? What do you hope to achieve?
  • Are your stakeholders supportive of this vision?
  • What is the capacity of your organization?
  • Do you have or are there plans to have a dedicated resource for this initiative? (Figure out where your team can grow: Indigenous relations, human resources, community development, employees that have decision making power on policies, support from upper management, middle management and hiring managers will assist organizations as they develop communication plans of the culture shift.)
  • Communicate with internal employees outlining the dedication, commitment and importance of Indigenous Engagement at all levels of the organization.
  • What are your timelines? Are your goals realistic and attainable? Find a sample of the  Indigenous Engagement Charter Metrics spreadsheet.
  • What are the barriers that are going to prevent you from attracting, recruiting, and retaining Indigenous employees?
  • What has been done in the past? What training was incorporated? Does your organization have the capacity to train? What policies were created or amended?
  • Does your business have existing procurement policies? If so, have you reviewed its procurement practices/policies? Does your company rate or place value on the Request for Proposals (RFPs) based on contractors’ level of Indigenous Engagement?

These are a few early stage questions that should assist you in identifying what your organization’s initial focus should be. Your answers will provide you with a better understanding on where your company’s Indigenous Engagement journey should begin.

2. Where do I begin?

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The first step is to read through the Indigenous Engagement Charter. This document will tell you about the importance of Indigenous Engagement, what the program requirements are, and how to get started.

3. How will my company/organization be evaluated as a signatory to the Indigenous Engagement Charter?

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Each Charter signatory can develop a customized Indigenous Engagement strategy with the assistance of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (SCC). The SCC recognizes that not all businesses have the same capacity and resources to develop, implement and measure an Indigenous Engagement Strategy. Charter signatories will be provided with the resources required to fulfill their engagement strategy.

4. Is my company/organization ready to work successfully with Indigenous people, businesses and communities?

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Begin by conducting an environmental scan. The scan should help you better understand the Indigenous landscape, build your confidence and help you and your company become engagement ready.

Here a few questions that can help in your environmental scan:

  • What is your organization/company objective when it comes to Indigenous Engagement? Do you wish to attract and recruit? Do you need to work on retention strategies? Are you looking to refine procurement practices? Are you hoping to raise awareness with education, create inclusive workplaces, or provide consultation services?
  • Is your organization/company supportive of this objective?
  • What is the capacity of your organization? Do you have dedicated resources for this initiative?
  • Are you aware of any barriers that will prevent you from attracting, recruiting and retaining Indigenous employees?
  • Have your employees taken Indigenous Awareness training?

5. How do I approach Indigenous leadership and Indigenous communities?

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Please contact nick@saskchamber.com for more information.

6. Does our company need to be a member of the SCC to participate in the Indigenous Engagement Charter?

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No. Any business, regardless of their membership with the SCC, can become an Indigenous Engagement Charter Signatory.

7. What barriers do new Indigenous employees encounter in the workplace?

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  • Literacy and education. The graduation rate of Indigenous youth (15 to 24) in Canada is 24%, compared with 84% in the non-Indigenous population.
  • Cultural differences.
  • Racism and discrimination.  There are a number of myths and misconceptions about Indigenous people and perceived special treatment that some non-Indigenous people still believe are truths.
  • Self-esteem. Poverty, broken families, racism, stereotypes and discrimination can often lead to low self-esteem. It’s hard to present well in a job interview when one is struggling with low self-esteem.
  • Poverty. Unhealthy living conditions affect a person’s mental and physical well being.
  • Transport. Few remote communities are serviced by public transit. Vehicles and vehicle insurance is expensive and out of reach for many in pre-employment situations. Getting a drivers license can be a challenge, especially for those based in northern communities.
  • Childcare: Safe, affordable childcare is a challenge for mainstream Canadians – it is even more of a challenge for parents in Indigenous communities.

8. Who should take Indigenous Awareness Training in my organization?

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Employees on all levels of the organization can take Level 1. Create an attainable schedule to implement training for all new and current employees. Find out more about Indigenous Awareness Training Level 1 -5 here.

9. How do I attract Indigenous people to my company/organization and where do I find Indigenous applicants?

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10. Our company/organization is fully staffed; however, we want to be more involved in the Indigenous community, how can we participate?

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Attend SCC events, events in Indigenous communities and implement Indigenous Awareness Training in your organization.

I want to procure from Indigenous-owned businesses, where can I find a list?

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Please see the Procurement Database here.

The information contained on this page and within the Indigenous Engagement Directory includes original content as well as content using a variety of sources. Special thanks to the Indigenous Engagement Task Force participants, Nutrien, Indigenous Services Canada, Indigenous Works, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, and several others. Please feel free to use the information contained here to advance the Indigenous Engagement strategy for your business.

The linking to or from our website does not indicate on the part of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce any endorsement or guarantee of any of the organizations or information found on their respective websites.

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