Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples™

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A Definition of Smudging

Sacred smoke created from burning medicinal or sacred plants is an aspect of many cultures and religions the world over. In North America, it is a practice common to Indigenous Peoples and is called smudging. Many, but not all, Indigenous cultures in Canada smudge but may have different beliefs associated with the smoke, and different ceremonies and protocols. In this article we are giving a general definition of smudging.

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Topics: Indigenous Awareness

Building Indigenous community capacity and the duty to consult


While the duty to consult is a hard fought for, constitutionally recognized component of resource project development, in reality it can be an onerous burden for an Indigenous community. In Duty to Consult’ a Cruel Joke If First Nations Can’t Handle the Load, Alex Power, a Regulatory and Research Specialist with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, defines the impact the duty to consult places on an Indigenous community in terms of processing the associated tsunami of paperwork. Here’s his description of what’s involved in terms of an Environmental Assessment (EA) for a major project:

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Topics: Indigenous relations

Reconciliation and Indigenous Libraries in Schools


Education for reconciliation

  1. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
  2. Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools. [1]

In late 2016 a newspaper article about a Nanaimo school that was building an Indigenous-authored collection of books for the school library caught our eye. The school had a small nucleus of books but wanted to build up their collection with titles that would appeal to all reading levels and that accurately depicted Indigenous history, Canadian history, Indigenous culture. The school, John Barsby Secondary, went a step further and commissioned Snuneymuxw carver Noel Brown to build a bookcase to house the books.

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Topics: Reconciliation, Indigenous Awareness

Why Pre-engagement Research of Indigenous Communities is Important

There are many reasons for researching an Indigenous community but for the purposes of this article we are talking about research in terms of a project proponent and an Indigenous community.

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Topics: Indigenous consultation and engagement

4 Terms to Avoid in Verbal Communications with Indigenous Peoples

Language has the power to respect and honour, or, hurt and offend and that is particularly true when working across cultures. Within that frame of reference, we respectfully recommend that when working with Indigenous Peoples you have an understanding of how the historical context of certain phrases can affect your communication and relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

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Topics: Indigenous relations

What is Indigenous procurement?


Simply put, Indigenous procurement is the act of purchasing goods and/or services from an Indigenous-owned business. For example, my company, Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., is an an Indigenous-owned business that provides training for government, corporations, and individuals on how to work with Indigenous Peoples. So, for those of you who have taken my training, you, or your team lead, have engaged in Indigenous procurement.

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Topics: Indigenous economic development

Reconciliation and Donating to Indigenous Organizations

December is typically a month in which many Canadians look for ways to provide some financial assistance to not-for-profit organizations that help certain groups of people. There is no shortage of these organizations and causes - some are so large and omnipresent, such as United Way, they are household names, others not so much.

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Topics: Indigenous relations

Why Are There Stereotypes About Indigenous Peoples

Following every training session we ask learners if they would kindly take the time to fill in a survey about the training. We find these surveys invaluable as they help us ensure the training fulfills our on-site and public workshop clients’ needs, provides insight to what learners are interested in, and provides ideas for new training modules, blog articles and ebooks. A survey from a recent training session included requests for more information regarding stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples.

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Topics: Aboriginal History, Indigenous relations

What’s the Difference Between Historic and Modern Treaties

We have received requests to provide a description of the difference between historic and modern treaties. This article attempts to answer the question plus provide some additional background.


For terms of reference, historic treaties were made between 1701 and 1923. Historic treaties were marked in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of British Columbia; the first  modern treaty was signed in 1975.

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Topics: Treaties

The Role of the Indigenous Employment Coordinator


…”there is a growing number of IBAs signed between industry and Aboriginal communities that include a clear target for a number of employment opportunities to be reserved for Aboriginal people.” [1]


An Impacts and Benefits Agreement (IBA) is frequently a feature of effective consultation between a project proponent and an Indigenous community. As the majority of resource development projects are on the traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples, a key consideration for community leaders when negotiating an IBA is ensuring there are employment opportunities for community members.

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Topics: Aboriginal Recruitment and Retention