I was fortunate to have participated in an industry tour recently attended by local Indigenous leaders and representatives from some of the region’s largest employers where the goal was to get to know each other and begin to work together to identify and solve our respective employment challenges.
On the Tour, and in many other professional and personal settings, I have heard non-Indigenous people asking Indigenous people how we can create better working relationships with our Indigenous neighbours. What was clear during the tour, is that as a first step, we have a lot of listening to do. A lot of listening and a responsibility to educate ourselves. Working relationships are developed on a bedrock of trust. I found a jewel of a resource on allyship on the Animikii website. Animikii is an indigenous-owned digital agency based in Victoria. One of their employees, Robyn Ward, wrote a piece entitled “Building Trust Before Truth: How Non-Indigenous Canadians Become Allies” and I believe it should be required reading for every non-Indigenous person in Canada. https://www.animikii.com/news/building-trust-before-truth-how-non-indigenous-canadians-become-allies
Robyn has some suggestions for us budding allies: “… we build trust by respecting boundaries, being reliable and accountable, respecting the trust vault, showing integrity, showing non-judgment, and by being generous with your assumptions. We build trust in small acts of kindness and there are no shortcuts to building trust. If you are ever in doubt, educate yourself, ask questions, and seek answers from the right people whether it’s Indigenous Peoples or other respected allies within the community. True allies will see the value in relationship building by authentically gaining, building and maintaining trust.”
Please, read the article and make use of the excellent resources linked to it. Take the quiz to learn your level of privilege. Undertake the #Next150 Reconciliation Challenges. If you truly want to be an ally, begin by building trust. Listen, and learn, with your heart wide open.