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Indigenous – Diversity & Inclusion (What, Why, How)

Indigenous Definition, Inclusion FAQ and popular questions, resources. Everything about the indigenous workplace and society diversity and inclusivity

In this guide, we will show you interesting facts about indigenous and how you can create a diverse and inclusive workplace and communities for Indigenous people. [Photograph By KYLE DARBYSON].

What is Indigenous inclusion?

Indigenous Inclusion is about building and fostering relationships with Indigenous people with other cultures. It is about creating a respectful environment to explore, learn, and communicate with a community that has been underrepresented for a long time in history. It is also about educating future generations about truth and reconciliation.

Indigenous Inclusivity is also about recognizing and learning the differences in views, cultures with respect, open mind and heart, and without judgement.

Indigenous in Canada

Who are the First Nations people?

  • First Nations are descendants of the original people who lived in Canada before the European explorers arrived

Why were First Nations people called “Indians”?

When early European explorers landed in North America, they thought they were in India so they called the original inhabitants “Indians’.

What do we mean by “Aboriginal People” in Canada?

In Canada, Aboriginal People include the First Nation, Metis (who are descendants of European fur traders/settlers who married First Nation women in early Canadian history) and Inuit (who were formerly called “Eskimos”.) The federal government established the term “Aboriginal People” as a broad umbrella term for the diverse Indigenous people in Canada, for all genders including aboriginal women and men. Two-Spirits is a very specialized term to describe an indigenous person who believes they have both male and female spirits within them

How many First Nations people are there in Canada?

There are about 700,000 First Nation / Indigenous people in Canada today.

How many First Nations communities are there in Canada?

There are at least 614 Indigenous communities in Canada today.

Indigenous communities by province and territory in Canada:

British Columbia 198
Ontario126
Saskatchewan70
Manitoba62
Alberta44
Quebec39
Northwest Territories26
Yukon16
New Brunswick15
Nova Scotia13
Newfoundland3
Prince Edward Island2

What is the average age of the Indigenous population?

The Average age of indigenous people is 32.

Where do the First Nation people live?

  • Many First Nations people live in Ontario and the Western provinces.
  • About 24% live in Ontario
  • About 18% live in British Columbia
  • There is a growth in moving from the reserves into large cities
  • Majority of them live in urban cities and pay taxes like other Canadians

Do Indigenous people get everything free from the government of Canada?

  • The government of Canada owns their land and have control over decisions made on their land (ex. how Indigenous people can live and use their land)
  • Indigenous people have the right to use the land and benefit from it but cannot own the land
  • Indigenous people only own about 0.02% of the land
  • When you can’t own homes on land, you can’t get credit for land ownership

What is “Indian Status” in Indigenous?

  • Indian Status is the legal status of a person registered as an Indian.
  • Registered Indians may be eligible for benefits, rights, programs/services offered by the Canadian government.
  • You are not born into the Indian Status. You actually need to apply, prove and be interviewed to be legally recognized as an Indian.

To learn about First Nations in Canada, visit:

https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1307460755710/1536862806124

To  learn more about Indigenous history in Canada, visit:

Where to learn about Indigenous History in Canada?

https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013778/1100100013779

  • History: Crown-Indigenous relationships
  • Royal Proclamation of 1763
  • Treaty-Making in Canada
  • Indigenous contributions to the War of 1812
  • Residential Schools
  • First Canadian Arctic Expedition
  • Indigenous contributions during the First World War
  • National Indigenous History Month

To learn more about United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, visit:

https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1309374407406/1309374458958

To learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, visit: http://nctr.ca/assets/reports/Final%20Reports/Executive_Summary_English_Web.pdf

Why do we acknowledge indigenous territory?

The best reason to acknowledge indigenous territories because it is a way to enhance awareness of Indigenous presence and land rights in our everyday life.

In addition, it is important to demonstrate respect and understanding of the land we stand on. Acknowledge harms of the past and move forward together through reconciliation.

To learn more about how Canadians can work toward reconciliation, watch this video by CBC News:

What are the top Benefits of Indigenous Inclusion?

  • Learn and evolve from history
  • More cohesive community
  • Business opportunities (under-tapped consumer market)
  • Underrepresented pool of talents
  • Branding to attract talents from a wide spectrum of talents
  • Become an Employer of Choice

How can we create an indigenous-inclusive workplace?

  • Include your workforce & Indigenous People in the discussion
  • Research and share existing programs, resources & best practice
  • Endorsement and commitment of executive management
  • Connect with indigenous groups
  • Learn about the local indigenous cultures
  • Provide training to managers and staff ex. cultural awareness training
  • Mentorship program
  • Ensure company policies and procedures are sensitive to the cultural diversities that exist
  • Ongoing reflection and evaluation
  • Seek consultation
  • Ensure there is a representation of Indigenous people in your workforce
  • Include elders into the Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
  • Have an inclusion policy
  • Eliminate systemic barriers and racism
  • Try to understand different perspectives and knowledge to incorporate into our workplace
  • Have conversations with Indigenous colleagues
  • Acknowledge different cultures and celebrations
  • Job shadowing program
  • Awareness and inclusion training program

How do we promote Indigenous Inclusion on post-secondary/university campus?

Historically, Indigenous People is a demographic group that has been underrepresented on post-secondary/university campus.

  • Make the campus a more welcoming and safe space – make Aboriginal students feel like home
  • Cultural and social activities
  • Campus visits
  • University boot camps
  • Indigenous Resource and Student Centre
  • Peer Mentoring/Buddy program
  • Academic Counselling
  • Indigenous history & culture on-line learning
  • Revisit curricula
  • Orientation tailed to Aboriginal students to ease the transition
  • Increase the representation of Indigenous staff in your workforce
  • Elders in residence
  • Employer Speaker Workshops
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Awards and Financial Aids
  • Indigenous Students Association
  • Community Celebrations
  • First Nation, Metis, Inuit Community Group
  • Aboriginal Liaison/Admission Office

More interesting questions about Native Americans and Indigenous people?

As we try to learn more about the Indigenous People, there could be some misconceptions in some people’s mind about Indigenous or Native Americans.

Are you curious about…

  1. Native Americans living in tipis?
  2. Native Americans get a lot of support from the government?
  3. Native Americans not needing to pay taxes?
  4. Native Americans are rich off from the casinos?
  5. Native Americans wearing headdresses?
  6. How Native Americans feel about the word “redskin”?

Check out this video by Teen Vogue and hear it from Native Americans themselves!

What’s the difference between Indigenous vs Indian vs Native American?

Is it okay to address Indigenous People by “Indian”? or should it be “Native American”?

Why was the word “Indian” used in the first place anyways?

How do Indigenous People feel about being called “Indian” and “Native American”?

Check out this video by CGP Grey:

How do I interact with my Aboriginal friend, schoolmate or colleague?

Aboriginal people often communicate with each other through the way of telling stories. When you speak with them, pay attention to what is being said.

If you are not clear about what’s being said, ask for clarification. Make and maintain eye contact to show they have your full attention. It is disrespectful to interrupt or speak over each other.

You should not assume your Aboriginal friend, schoolmate or colleague knows everything about the Indigenous population/culture. They may also be in the learning journey. And not all Indigenous people share the same view.

Also, You should not expect someone to speak on behalf of the entire Indigenous population.

Listen to their stories and histories, understand their perspective. It is okay to ask questions, and it is also normal that they don’t have all the answers. I would also encourage you to share your culture with them so they can learn more about you too. There are many stories and interesting facts about Indigenous religion, paintings, arts, studies, music, bands, movies, instruments, painters, and books.

Share by heart to build the relationship, all culture has great history and perspective to survive thousands and thousands of years. There are wisdom everywhere.

You can also help promote the indigenous culture by doing your part to engage in a respectful, inclusive and supportive way

If you don’t understand something, ask! Do not make assumptions.

Tips for hiring Indigenous, Aboriginal employee for hiring managers and recruiters

Tips for recruiters when hiring Aboriginal Employees:

  • When you evaluate an Aboriginal candidate’s resume and see inconsistent work records, it may be due to:
    • Lack of training
    • Limited work opportunities in places they live
    • Distance from urban cities
  • When screening the resume, examine hidden and transferable skills/competencies.
  • Prepare the candidate in advance by explaining to them the recruitment/interview process
  • Create a welcoming environment to reduce anxiety/intimidation
  • Have a diverse and inclusive interview panel
  • Be aware of cultural differences and non-verbal cues ex. Aboriginal people may prefer oral over print. They may also speak about group accomplishments vs individual accomplishments.

What are the biggest Cultural differences: Indigenous & Aboriginal Culture vs Western Culture

Aboriginal Culture:Western Culture:
CollectivismIndividualism
Group needIndividual ambition
Listening skillsCommunication skills
Nodding means understandingNodding means agreeing
Soft handshake (= no threat)Firm and assertive handshake
https://indigenousworks.ca/en/resources/getting-started/cultures

What are special days to celebrate for Indigenous Inclusion?

  • June 21 – National Indigenous People Day
  • Month of June – National Indigenous Month
  • August 9 – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

What are the best Training Programs for Indigenous People?

Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, visit:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/indigenous-skills-employment-training.html

First Nations and Inuit Summer Work Experience Program, visit:

https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1100100033610/1533125433575

Education and training opportunities offered by the Canadian Armed Forces, visit:

https://forces.ca/en/programs-for-indigenous-peoples/

Here, you will see First Nations on regional maps of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic, Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Indigenous Art

There are many indigenous artists in Canada, Australia, and America. They dedicate their artist career to promote indigenous culture and offer us great insights into the long history of native lives in Australia, Canada, America.

Indigenous Art in Australia

Some of the best known Indigenous Artists that create art are Albert Namatjira, Gloria Petyarre, Rover Thomas, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Dorothy Napangardi, John Mawurndjul, Naata Nungurrayi, Bronwyn Bancroft, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

Indigenous At in Australia
Painting of the MacDonnell Ranges by Albert Namatjira © Leonid Ll / Flickr

Indigenous Art in Canada

Canada also has many well known Indigenous artists such as Tanya Tagaq, Bill Reid, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Kenojuak Ashevak, Christi Belcourt. However, some consider the Totem Poles as the ultimate form of Indigenous Art which demonstrates the indigenous culture spanning over 2500 years. In addition, the red-ochre petroglyph paintings on rocks are considered some of the ancient historic Indigenous art in Canada across the nation.


Quick FAQs about Indigenous Culture

The top benefits to build a diverse and inclusive environment with Indigenous are:

  • Learn and evolve from history
  • More cohesive community
  • Business opportunities (under-tapped consumer market)
  • Underrepresented pool of talents
  • Branding to attract talents from a wide spectrum of talents
  • Become an Employer of Choice

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

  1. Include your workforce & Indigenous People in the discussion
  2. Research and share existing programs, resources & best practice
  3. Endorsement and commitment of executive management
  4. Connect with indigenous groups
  5. Learn about the local indigenous cultures
  6. Provide training to managers and staff ex. cultural awareness training
  7. Mentorship program
  8. Ensure company policies and procedures are sensitive to the cultural diversities that exist
  9. Ongoing reflection and evaluation
  10. Seek consultation
  11. Ensure there is a representation of Indigenous people in your workforce
  12. Include elders into the Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
  13. Have an inclusion policy
  14. Eliminate systemic barriers and racism
  15. Try to understand different perspectives and knowledge to incorporate into our workplace
  16. Have conversations with Indigenous colleagues
  17. Acknowledge different cultures and celebrations
  18. Job shadowing program
  19. Awareness and inclusion training program

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

Here are the top ways to educate about Indigenous culture in schools:

  1. Make the campus a more welcoming and safe space – make Aboriginal students feel like home
  2. Cultural and social activities
  3. Campus visits
  4. University boot camps
  5. Indigenous Resource and Student Centre
  6. Peer Mentoring/Buddy program
  7. Academic Counselling
  8. Indigenous history & culture on-line learning
  9. Revisit curricula
  10. Orientation tailed to Aboriginal students to ease the transition
  11. Increase the representation of Indigenous staff in your workforce
  12. Elders in residence
  13. Employer Speaker Workshops
  14. Monthly newsletter
  15. Awards and Financial Aids
  16. Indigenous Students Association
  17. Community Celebrations
  18. First Nation, Metis, Inuit Community Group
  19. Aboriginal Liaison/Admission Office

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

Listen to their stories and histories, understand their perspective. It is okay to ask questions, and it is also normal that they don’t have all the answers. I would also encourage you to share your culture with them so they can learn more about you too.

You should not assume your Aboriginal friend, schoolmate or colleague knows everything about the Indigenous population/culture. They may also be in the learning journey. And not all Indigenous people share the same view.

If you are not clear about what’s being said, ask for clarification. Make and maintain eye contact to show they have your full attention. It is disrespectful to interrupt or speak over each other.

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

  • When you evaluate an Aboriginal candidate’s resume and see inconsistent work records, it may be due to:
    • Lack of training
    • Limited work opportunities in places they live
    • Distance from urban cities
  • When screening the resume, examine hidden and transferable skills/competencies.
  • Prepare the candidate in advance by explaining to them the recruitment/interview process
  • Create a welcoming environment to reduce anxiety/intimidation
  • Have a diverse and inclusive interview panel
  • Be aware of cultural differences and non-verbal cues ex. Aboriginal people may prefer oral over print. They may also speak about group accomplishments vs individual accomplishments.

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

  • June 21 – National Indigenous People Day
  • Month of June – National Indigenous Month
  • August 9 – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

In Canada, Aboriginal People include the First Nation, Metis (who are descendants of European fur traders/settlers who married First Nation women in early Canadian history) and Inuit (who were formerly called “Eskimos”.) The federal government established the term “Aboriginal People” as a broad umbrella term for the diverse Indigenous people in Canada, for all genders including aboriginal women and men. Two-Spirits is a very specialized term to describe an indigenous person who believes they have both male and female spirits within them

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

There are about 700,000 First Nation / Indigenous people in Canada today. More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

There are at least 614 Indigenous communities in Canada today. More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

The Average age of indigenous people is 32, and increasing. More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

  • Indian Status is the legal status of a person registered as an Indian.
  • Registered Indians may be eligible for benefits, rights, programs/services offered by the Canadian government.
  • You are not born into the Indian Status. You actually need to apply, prove and be interviewed to be legally recognized as an Indian.

More Diversity and Inclusion Resources

The best reason to acknowledge indigenous territories because it is a way to enhance awareness of Indigenous presence and land rights in our everyday life. Read more Diversity and Inclusion Resources

Who are the best known Indigenous Artists that create great Indigenous Arts?

Some of the best known Indigenous Artists that create art are Albert Namatjira, Gloria Petyarre, Rover Thomas, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Dorothy Napangardi, John Mawurndjul, Naata Nungurrayi, Bronwyn Bancroft, Emily Kame Kngwarreye. More on Indigenous Culture and Inclusion.

Canada also has many well known Indigenous artists such as Tanya Tagaq, Bill Reid, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Kenojuak Ashevak, Christi Belcourt. More on Indigenous Culture and Inclusion.

  • Indigenous Definition
  • Indigenous Culture
  • Indigenous Religion
  • Indigenous Links
  • Indigenous Videos
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About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.