Honouring First Nation Reconciliation an effective example

November 04, 2015

We really appreciate readers sharing with us innovative steps they or their organization have taken to build relationships, honour reconciliation and respect protocol. So, when we heard what Britco was doing to honour First Nation reconciliation, we had to share it with our readers.

Colin Doylend, Director of Aboriginal Relations at Britco, brought to our attention a simple and effective means of respecting First Nation protocol via business cards. As you can see from the photo below, Britco acknowledges the traditional territory of the company’s respective offices – a sort of reconciliation by business card.


Colin kindly took a few questions from us on the background on this, and other, innovative ideas.

Tell us a bit about Britco and the company's Aboriginal Relations program/goals?Britco has been manufacturing modular buildings in British Columbia since 1977. Britco is best known for its extensive rental fleet of site trailers, wash cars, containers, walkways, etc. However, Britco also manufactures prefabricated modules for camp accommodation, single and multi-family homes, senior care facilities, commercial retail building, hotels, lodges and staff accommodation projects.

Everything we do involves placing one of our buildings on a piece of land. Britco fully recognizes Aboriginal rights and title and the respective traditional territories where we have offices and where we place our buildings. As such, much of our work involves relationships with many Aboriginal communities and we are committed to meaningful engagement with Aboriginal Peoples in communities and traditional territories where we work. Not only have several Aboriginal communities been clients for well over three decades, but we also engage Aboriginal communities through our revenue sharing business partnerships and our literacy and Library gifting programs. We've entered into revenue sharing partnerships with ten First Nations across British Columbia and provided over 12 libraries to communities as well with our literacy partners. Furthermore, all of our business partnerships with First Nations in British Columbia include jobs training and skills development opportunities. These opportunities enable Aboriginal students enrolled in education and trades programs to develop skills that will help them advance their career in the construction industry by learning and working at Britco. It is also important to note that approximately 10 percent of our workforce in Canada are Aboriginal. Some of Britco’s longest serving employees are from the First Nation communities we work with.

When did the company decide to include the name of the respective traditional territory on business cards?
We introduced it earlier this year as part of our strategy in terms of integrating and respecting First Nation culture throughout the company. Our team is always looking for ways promote the First Nation communities we work with among our clients and suppliers. This is a call-to-action to our peers to get to know more about where you are in this world in terms of First Nation history and culture and to join us in expressing support and recognition through this simple way.

Are you aware of other companies acknowledging the traditional or treaty territory on which they are working on their business cards?
I have seen a few Aboriginal businesses join this movement. It’s truly an easy way to show that you understand the bigger picture. It also incites questions – many people don’t know what “traditional or treaty territory” means, nor do they recognize the names of the Nations. I like answering those sorts of questions as it opens the door to creating a better relationship through sharing and learning. Our team at Britco understand that there’s a lot to be done and we do what we can to make a difference.

How have your clients responded? Both First Nation and non-First Nation.
They love it. We got over one thousand views when we made a bit of an announcement on LinkedIn as a call to our peers. Everyone thought it was just great. It’s one of those things that makes people go “oh, why aren’t we doing that?” It should become like a postal code. Look at what some of the K-12 education systems are doing with new curriculum, Aboriginal enhancement agreements and supporting elder advisors within schools, the work Reconciliation Canada is doing, what some of the communities themselves are doing now to build a shared understanding of their respective histories – it’s just all part of the determining our respectful place on this land. We all should be stewards of the land and this is an important distinction.

What other effective and simple steps do you think companies can do to honour First Nation reconciliation?
We proactively look for opportunities to do business with Aboriginal communities. We give Aboriginal companies who we have identified the first opportunity to participate in a project on a commercially reasonable basis as a supplier or business partner. This follows our commitment to our Bronze status under the Progressive Aboriginal Relations program with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. Right now, Britco is in the process of renaming its boardrooms with traditional First Nation names that have been gifted to us by our partners. More meaning and impact comes from holding a meeting in a room with a traditional name that brings a substantive meaning that may help frame discussions than, a numbered room, such as Room #111. Simply, recognizing and supporting Aboriginal culture and traditions within your business encourages more value and principle based conversations and actions.

This is a simple but immensely effective display of respect. What examples of honouring First Nation reconciliation are you aware of? Do you include the traditional or treaty you work in on your website? Letterhead? Voicemail message? 

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Topics: Reconciliation

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