How Winnipeg businesses are journeying toward reconciliation


Circles for Reconciliation event encourages dialogue.
Event participants. Photos by Neil Noonan, courtesy of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
Banner photo: Kevin Lamoureux, National Education Lead of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, keynote speaker during the Circle for Reconciliation event held by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

Winnipeg’s business community is making strides on the journey toward truth and reconciliation thanks to a recent Circles for Reconciliation workshop.

The all-day event, offered by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, allowed participants to hear the stories of local businesses leading the journey – their wins, their learnings, and the impact reconciliation has made on their work to date.

The workshop, attended by 200 people, addressed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action #92 and provided a framework and examples of how business can effectively engage and partner with the Indigenous community.

The event was organized in partnership with Circles for Reconciliation (Circles), the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce, The Winnipeg Foundation, the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council and the Manitoba Construction Sector Council.

Circles is an organization that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals and facilitates dialogue on a host of topics. From the legacy of residential schools, to the ’60s Scoop, to the Indian Act, to everyday racism, Circles for Reconciliation then convenes citizens from all walks of life to sit in circles where they listen, share, learn and heal.

The Foundation partnered with Circles in 2017 to host Bridging Divides, Shaping Futures, the second in the Vital Conversations series held to inform Winnipeg’s Vital Signs 2017 report.

“We could not have dreamed to put on an event like this had it not been for our experience with The Winnipeg Foundation. We learned from that experience and today could have not gone better because of it,” says Dr. Raymond Currie, co-founder of Circles for Reconciliation.

Elder Dr. Myra Laramee introduced the day with a balance of humour and seriousness. The morning keynote address came from Kevin Lamoureux, National Education Lead of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, followed by an afternoon address from Charlie Coffey, a retired Executive Vice President of RBC.

A dynamic speaker, Lamoureux captivated the audience by taking a provocative look at the past, challenging the myths of justice and inclusion for Indigenous Canadians. His laid-back style made him easy to understand as he helped clarify the impact on today’s society – both for Indigenous and non- Indigenous citizens.

Coffey, named an Honorary Chief for his support of First Nations and their goals of economic development and self-sufficiency in 1997, spoke about corporate Canada’s record on relationships with Indigenous people and the business case to do more.

“We need to engage the disengaged corporate sector. Improving the way companies view and interact with Indigenous peoples is fundamental to the process of reconciliation and to long-term business success.”

Inspired by the hope and optimism that reconciliation can be pursued by cultivating better knowledge, understanding and compassion, the circles inspired impassioned, enlightening and insightful dialogue; for many, the first step on the path to reconciliation.

This story is featured in the Summer 2018 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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