26 Ways to Derail Your Indigenous Community Meeting

July 27, 2016

Hosting frequent community meetings to share information and milestones is an important part of your relationship building and maintenance with the Indigenous community you are working with or hope to work with. If community meetings are done right, you build trust which will be important for both parties when you and the community are ready to move from consultation to negotiation.

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If you value or respect the need to build a relationship with the community, you and your project face some "sleeves rolled up" work. There are shining examples in the public eye of how not to engage with Indigenous communities………..don’t add your project to the list.

Here are 26 ways you can derail your Indigenous community meeting:

  1. Delay the community meeting until project plans are firmed up
  2. Tell the community when and where the meeting is
  3. Try to arrange a meeting during traditional seasonal activities
  4. Delay announcing the date and time of the meeting and limit where you post meeting details
  5. Schedule the meeting so that there isn’t a break for members to discuss presentation/project; if there is a break, don’t arrange for refreshments
  6. Shortly before the meeting, provide binders of technical material about your project for community leaders and members to read and absorb
  7. Don’t acknowledge traditional or treaty land
  8. Don’t do any research into community history, governance structure, culture, worldview
  9. Mispronounce community and leaders’ names
  10. Use colloquialisms in your speech and powerpoint
  11. Overdress and arrive with a team of similarly dressed individuals; arrive in most expensive vehicle in fleet
  12. Manifest the attitude that your project is the answer to the community’s challenges and issues
  13. Manifest the attitude that the meeting is a mere formality - a box that must be checked off for project approval
  14. Start the meeting right on the minute, regardless if members are still arriving
  15. Design a powerpoint filled with acronyms and technical terms
  16. Include Indigenous symbols/images/art in your powerpoint that you don’t have permission to use and aren’t related to the community
  17. Whip through your powerpoint and delay all questions until the end of presentation
  18. Interrupt a question with the answer before the speaker has finished
  19. Interrupt a question if it seems off topic and ask the speaker to get to the point
  20. Check your watch or phone while someone is asking a question
  21. Only present the positive aspects of the project
  22. Tell the community that it’s an “either or” situation
  23. Play the jobs/economy card fast and hard
  24. Wrap the meeting up right on the minute, even if there are still unanswered questions
  25. Pack up and leave immediately
  26. Don’t send a copy of the minutes or a letter thanking the community for attending the meeting

At Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. we offer a full day of Indigenous Consultation and Engagementtraining. If you find yourself puzzling over any of the 26 items above, or are new to the consultation landscape, it’s a good idea to take some qualified training in advance of your engagement with Indigenous communities. You know what they say “You only get one chance to make a first impression”!


Here are two ebooks with loads more tips - simply click the book icon to begin the download of your free ebook



Topics: Indigenous Relations

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