Protecting Your Indigenous Relations Strategy in a Recession

July 31, 2015

stock market newspaper
Photo: Unsplash

It looks as though Canada may be entering an economic slowdown which means managers and financial officers will be given the task of cutting costs. Unfortunately, at times like these, in some companies, Indigenous relations go from being considered a real and necessary part of doing business to being considered a luxury.

What’s wrong with the above scenario? It sends a message to Indigenous Peoples that these companies are "here for a good time, not a long time."

What happens when the economy recovers and these companies are once again keen to pursue business opportunities that require community support? It’s going to be so much harder for them to convince communities that they are committed to their Indigenous relations strategy when the Indigenous community has just experienced the companies' lack of commitment to the community during an economic downturn.

The same applies to federal and provincial governments – Indigenous relations are not something to throw time and money at when the economy is good only to withdraw when the economy slows down. For example, in 2009, when the BC Finance Minister presented his budget Indigenous relations took a substantial cut in funding. The cuts are summed up in this article:

“The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation will take an $11.2 million cut, which in the relatively small ministry amounts to 18 percent of its budget. The cut comes despite language in yesterday's throne speech saying the government will commit several of the New Relationship commitments to legislation. The ministry will maintain its current number of staff, but cuts will be made to the areas of negotiations, aboriginal relations and executive and support services.” [1]

Regardless of the economy, the duty to consult and accommodate keeps growing. Companies and governments are ill-advised to halt negotiations during a tough economic time as picking up where you left off will be much more difficult and time-consuming, if not impossible in the future. The company's reputation and potential changes to Chief and Council as well as in the company's Indigenous relations team mean relationship building will have to start anew. As we explain in our training programs, Indigenous Peoples are here for the long haul – always have been, always will be – they don’t come and go with the economy, nor does the duty to consult and accommodate.

We know from our on-site training that managers are bracing for a slowing economy and mentions of the “R” word (recession) in the news have them looking for ways to cut costs. We encourage you to not sacrifice your Indigenous relations strategy.

For those of you who will have to do more with less after the cuts; consider joining us for one of our virtual classroom Indigenous Relations Training courses.

[1] BC Deficit Budget Cuts Spending, Offers Little Stimulus 18 Feb 2009,

Learn more about Indigenous Awareness

Topics: Indigenous Relations

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.
Covenant House logo, photo of Trevor Snider - Commemorating a Reconciliation Ally - Donate today!

About this Blog

Let this blog be your guide to Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®. We have hundreds of articles loaded with tips, suggestions, videos, and free eBooks for you. Happy reading!

Subscribe to the Indigenous Relations Newsletter

Recent Posts

Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., provides information on this blog for free as a resource for those seeking information about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Readers looking for more detailed information, or who have questions, can sign up for our fee-for-service training. Also, ICT encourages everyone who reads this information to use their best judgment given their own circumstances, vulnerabilities, and needs, and to contact a consulting or legal professional if you have more specific questions. Join the conversation over on our Linkedin page.