Following is the viewpoint of Lendsay, president and CEO of the Aboriginal Human Resources Council, a national public-private, not-forprofit organization formed in 1998 to advance the full participation of aboriginal people in Canada’s labour market.
The editorial, More than words needed to bolster Native job figures (SP, March 16), speaks to the staggering gap in aboriginal employment and the need to get our fastest growing population working.
It’s not uncommon for those of us who work to achieve aboriginal inclusion in Canada’s economy to wonder sometimes whether the mountain we are climbing is just too high to conquer.
But when despondency creeps in I have a simple antidote: I stop, turn around and look back at the ground we’ve already covered.
I see employers taking a lead in aboriginal inclusion and climbing our seven-stage Inclusion Continuum -Saskatchewan employers such as SIAST, MGM Communications, Syncrude, RBC, Scotiabank, Enterprise Saskatchewan, IBM, and Cameco.
These employers know that inclusion is profitable. It’s not just about employment, but it’s about workplace inclusion.
There is a great need to awaken the sleeping corporate giants in Canada to help advance employment of aboriginal people. It’s good for business, it’s good for aboriginal people and it’s good for Saskatchewan.
I see more First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth completing post-secondary education, pursuing careers and getting access to mentors.
I also see companies such as Syncrude and EnCana building longstanding commitments to aboriginal business procurement partnerships -awarding contracts worth $1.4 billion since 1992.
And I see, Inclusion Works ’11, an amazing national annual event that brings Canada’s top aboriginal graduates and leading-edge inclusive employers-of-choice together with the aim of increasing job opportunities for aboriginal people.
This year’s event, to be held May 3-5 in Montreal, will again host a recruitment fair and three-days of MBA-style learning designed to help employers advance indigenous inclusion in workplaces and schools.
The event will prepare an organization’s complete inclusion team to get ready to meet Canada’s future skills’ shortage by engaging our growing population of aboriginal workers.
Research by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies shows that by 2016, more people will be leaving Canada’s workforce than entering it.
That’s the most serious threat our economy will face over the next 50 years, according to AIMS economist Brian Crowley.
Contrast this with the chronic unemployment in the aboriginal community, which if it’s not addressed, will get worse as the aboriginal population in Canada continues to grow at six times the rate of our non-aboriginal population.
This clearly outlines a distinct disconnect between mainstream Canada and the aboriginal community.
While some companies are making great strides toward inclusion, workplace diversity remains the exception rather than the rule.
Aboriginal inclusion should be on the agenda of every employer in Canada.
Accordingly to a study published by The Centre for the Study of Living Standards, if aboriginals reach the same education and social well-being levels of non-aboriginals, Canada’s GDP is estimated to rise by $401 billion by 2026.
Our council helps employers by offering tools, partnerships, training and advisory services that help them develop and implement effective inclusion strategies. We view the workplace as the foundation of a more open and trusting relationship for the country as a whole.
Inclusion of aboriginal workers and increased employee diversity at all levels within companies will help dispel long-held misconceptions and improve understanding between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.