2019 closed out with a webinar, presented in cooperation with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. The subject was one increasingly important to P2 practitioners: relations with Indigenous peoples and how to be inclusive in our public engagement processes. Nadine St-Louis, Executive Director of Sacred Fire Productions explained that a key to understanding Indigenous ways of being and knowing is to understand the relationship Indigenous people have with the land and how the process of colonization in North America removed that connection, leading to generations of hurt and degradation.
Understanding the present, Nadine contends, is to understand the past, and the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission TRC”, which used the term “cultural genocide” to describe the impact of Canadian government policies and practices, was a big step in creating that understanding.
The “Truth” part, she says, is acknowledging harms done and healing the relationship between peoples within Canada. The legacy of residential schools has weighed heavily on the lives and wellbeing of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals and communities for generations. If we are to achieve true reconciliation, have sustainable social impact and decolonize mentalities and structures, collaboration between Indigenous organizations, civil society and public policy makers is most necessary. “Reconciliation” is having Indigenous voices part of this process.
Nadine states that facing the complexity of contemporary issues related to living together and pluralism, it is often difficult to implement the various recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission however, it is imperative to work together and break down barriers to support Indigenous voices and look at ways to implement action for Indigenous representation and inclusion.
Therefore, including Indigenous people in a P2 process, it’s important to understand the differences in worldviews between Indigenous and European-descended societies. The latter tend to be hierarchical in their approach, with top-down decision-making and theory-based learning systems. Indigenous societies, she says, are “circular”, in which decisions are taken by consultation with the leader of the community in the centre, facilitating rather than imposing. Learning is gained from experience.