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Call #57 | Reinforcing the Workforce with Knowledge

The idea of putting education into the hands of the viewers is extraordinarily important to Making Treaty 7, and it turns out, it became an educational journey for our social media director, Ayla Coltman.
The Truth & Reconciliation Act has been around for years, and do you know how many of the 94 calls to action are completed? Have you ever seen WHICH of these acts has been completed? You would be shocked to see the statistics, and the lack of education about how WE, as a community and a Country, can commit to the reconciliation of Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

When you start a new job or a new trade, you most often receive training and a handbook right? To equip yourself with knowledge and skills that are relevant to your job and to the tasks you’ll achieve later in your career. But let’s talk about public servant professions: Construction & Trades, Doctors, Nurses & Paramedics, Travel & Tourism, Lawyers & Judges…. They get ample amounts of training right? What about Indigenous history and cultural training? What about Aboriginal Treaty Training? I know I didn’t get any handbooks on how to properly address Indigenous Rights, Treaty Rights, and a rundown on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Not many people will and that’s what I believe should change.

Today we are talking about Call to Action # 57: We call upon federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism.”

A little rundown on what this all means

So what exactly does Indigenous Rights and Treaty Rights mean? What is the difference? I’ll start with what my interpretation of these meant and what the actual definition is:

My Interpretation on Indigenous Rights: Indigenous Rights are the rights to practice cultural and spiritual healing ceremonies on the land where their tribe or nation originated from.

The real definition: “Aboriginal rights are rights to lands that were exercised by Aboriginal people before colonial rule. Treaties confirm the existence of Aboriginal rights and the ability of those peoples who entered into treaties to negotiate and conclude treaties between and amongst other nations.” - Learn Alberta 2011

Let’s move on to Treaty Rights… To be completely honest, I am not really aware of what the rights are within the Treaties. I know the purpose of Treaties in Canada is to define said rights and obligations on all sides - the Government, the Indigenous groups, and provinces and territories. But that is all I know… On that note, here is the definition as described from Learn Alberta:

“Treaty rights, in addition to lands, are rights included as trade gifts or commitments through a surrender process as found in treaty text. The Aboriginal peoples’ perception is the spirit and intent of the treaties based on the understanding of Indian peoples and their base of law for coexistence, peace and harmony with nature and mankind. These rights are those declared in the Royal Proclamation, 1763, and entrenched in section 25(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982, “. . . any rights and freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763.”

“Rights include the right to be sovereign as a nation to exercise their historical, traditional, cultural and spiritual systems and practices to the lands they occupied and co-inhabited with other Aboriginal peoples of North America from time immemorial. “

This last paragraph really brings to light the lack of knowledge and training being produced to the public servants of Canada. How many people are aware that there is sacred land to practice healing ceremonies? I am fortunate to have been educated on the importance of the land we live on and taught some of those Indigenous healing practices during my youth, not everyone gets the same experience.

I decided to search and see what comes up when you type: “what indigenous rights training is offered to public servants” and to my surprise there was an article from the government of Alberta. They have a program called “Indigenous introductory training”. As I dug a little deeper, I was actually quite surprised to read the description of the course being offered, and I want to share that resource with you all. I will include it down in the bottom of this blog so you can check it out later.

I honestly think more resources like this should be standard in all work environments. Whether you are public facing or in office, having a deeper understanding of the rights of Indigenous People can really help cultural competency and awareness within the public service about Indigenous, Inuit and Métis People in Canada. This can also be applied to visible minority groups as well! Having a diverse workforce is amazing, but sharing knowledge and history should be part of a company culture.

What are the existing rights?

Great question, reader! I too did not have those answered readily available to me, so I went to the web to find out more. I’ll try and summarize what I learned in two perspectives, the government perspective, and the Indigenous perspective:

Government’s view:

• In the Constitution Act, 1867, section 91, “parliament has the authority to legislate for . . . Indians and lands reserved for Indians.”

• In the text of the treaties, there was a “surrender” of lands to Her Majesty the Queen of England and Indians are Her subjects.

• The Indian Act (which was created 1 year BEFORE Treaty 7 was signed), prescribes administrative duties and responsibilities of the federal government.

Indigenous view:

• “Indigenous rights” exist for peoples who were here before colonial rule.

• Spirit and intent of the treaties is peace and harmony for cohabitation and coexistence.

• Court cases have ruled in favour of Aboriginal peoples.

In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia. The decision clearly confirmed the existence of Indigenous rights to lands occupied before British sovereignty in 1846. This ruling clearly defined Indigenous rights to include Aboriginal title. Title is established on the basis that the land was traditionally used and occupied.

The Need for Conflict Resolution and Intercultural Competency in the Public Servant Sector

It is imperative that diversity training be part of the workplace for a couple reasons:

  1. We are all raised with different views on the world, religions, and cultural practices.

  2. We all have our own practices and beliefs that make our world go round.

  3. We all deserve the right to continue to practice the cultural practices that bring us joy, peace, and happiness.

I believe that creating space for culture is a great way of enforcing human rights and anti-racism within a company culture. Celebrating diversity can happen in so many ways. To share stories is to share life. I don’t know about you folks, but I love sitting down with someone and learning about their heritage, their culture, their beliefs and the things that matter to them. I love that we can all be our own individual - meaning not sharing the same beliefs, but being able to understand them and appreciate them for what they are and what they bring to an individual’s life. My mother growing up always told us it was our choice to choose what we wanted to believe in, and that brought us so many experiences of learning and understanding. I will always be grateful for that.

So how can we create more opportunities that will enhance the understanding of the Indigenous People of Canada?

Education should be provided to public servants regarding the misinformation of treatment and the history of Indigenous Peoples. Public servant workers need to have intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism skills. Integration of Indigenous people within the public servants would also help with the integration of understanding Indigenous rights and laws within the country.

To learn more about Call to Action # 57, visit:


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