A day to reflect on how reconciliation can be advanced by investors in Canada

By June 21, 2019News

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, SHARE recognizes that reconciliation is disruptive, creative and powerful. It also provides opportunities

Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day to recognize and celebrate the history, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

It’s also a day for learning and inquiry – not  just about Indigenous peoples but also about everyone’s role as individuals, as allies and as change agents in our own organizations. We believe that everyone has a responsibility to actively and thoughtfully contribute to reconciliation. We also recognize that reconciliation is about relationships and is therefore an ongoing endeavour that requires iterative thought, strategy and outward as well as inward reflection.

To provide some examples of how reconciliation is relevant for individuals and organizations in the investment and financial ecosystem, we offer some of the work SHARE is doing – in our programs as well as internally.

Partnering

To bring Indigenous values and viewpoints into all aspects of our work, we continue to foster existing and new partnerships with Indigenous led organizations. For example, we are very grateful for our partnership with the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA) through our joint Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative (RRII). RRII is supported by a network of foundation, union and government funders that are committed to embedding reconciliation principles and Indigenous rights into investment and capital stewardship policies and practices. Together, we are mobilizing institutional investors, led by Indigenous trusts themselves to promote corporate demand for Indigenous employment and leadership in governance, respect for Indigenous peoples’ rights, as well as increased economic opportunities for Indigenous communities.

As part of the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative, NATOA and SHARE have a common belief that in addition to bringing capital to the table, institutional investors can bring their knowledge, experience, and capacity to advocate with the companies that they own, with the institutions they serve, and with the services they use, to improve Indigenous economic outcomes and to contribute to economic empowerment and reconciliation. To help investment organizations think about the role that they can play to advance reconciliation, we published Advancing Reconciliation in Canada: A guide for investors. By providing tangible steps and case studies, our goal is to impart readers with inspiration about the opportunities that exist to not only talk about reconciliation; but to practice reconciliation.

We also partner with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) on research projects such as our recently completed report Moving Capital, Shifting Power: Identifying opportunities for investors to enhance demand for Indigenous employment, advancement and contractingThis research was funded by Employment and Social Development Canada to investigate and better understand the role of different actors along the investment chain in enhancing the demand for Indigenous employment, training, procurement and business development opportunities.

SHARE is a proud member of The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and we are grateful for the opportunities we have had to collaborate with the Circle and its network in informing our work, our approach and our events. The Circle is a partner in our Foundation Investing 2.0 initiative, which, together with Philanthropic Foundations of Canada, Community Foundations of Canada, Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network and Rally Assets is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, June 25th looking at Advancing Reconciliation and Growing the Indigenous Economy: A role for investors.

Engaging

In our policy, corporate engagement and research work, we are bringing Indigenous rights issues to the forefront and advocating for their recognition in corporate and institutional policy and practice.

SHARE’s shareholder engagement program facilitates constructive dialogues with companies on the most pressing environmental, social and corporate governance issues. In 2018, SHARE engaged with 15 companies across sectors about their commitment to reconciliation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 92 on business and reconciliation. Our engagement focused on integrating the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in business practices, internal education and training on Indigenous rights and history, and employment and business opportunities for Indigenous people. We also encourage companies to commit to CCAB’s Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program and to become a Aboriginal Procurement Champion. Our efforts are starting to make changes, with eight of the companies engaged adopting policies and operational changes. But there is still more work to do and SHARE is committed to amplifying investor voices in Canada in support of bolder commitments and actions from companies.

Communicating

Both out of respect and to trigger educational opportunities, we are better integrating recognition of Indigenous rights and traditional territories into all aspects of our written and oral communications as an organization, and as individuals.

Internally, we are working to integrate the history, current status and importance of Indigenous issues into staff and board education programs. We are reviewing our recruitment practices to ensure they are inclusive of Indigenous peoples and we are prioritizing Indigenous board representation. In our purchasing and contracting decisions, we are using purchasing power to help grow the Indigenous economy by seeking out Indigenous businesses, consultants and contractors.

Leading

Importantly, we are practicing leadership. To us, this does not mean having all the answers; more so it’s about asking thoughtful questions of ourselves, our networks, our clients and our peers. As our Executive Director Kevin Thomas has stated, “reconciliation is a process that is by its nature disruptive. It’s creative. It’s about power. And it’s also about opportunity.” We hope that by asking more questions and challenging status quo notions of how things are done, we will enable ourselves and our peers to move on that opportunity to shift power together and to build a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy together.