Learning and growing

Learning and growing

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President | Contributors: Patrick Sullivan, President & CEO, Halifax Chamber of Commerce | Published: June 30, 2021

July is here and with it comes not only sunshine, but also an opportunity for reflection and change. There have been discussions about Canada Day and whether it is inclusive and reflective, but this year those discussions seem even more pressing with the horrific recoveries of unmarked children’s graves at residential schools in British Columbia and searching is now happening at other locations, too.

Canada’s history did not begin in 1867. The Indigenous peoples of this land have been here for thousands of years, tending to it, learning the ways of the forests and creatures, and living in harmony with both. The first step in breaking down Canada Day is first acknowledging that we in Halifax are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1725 and this place existed long before the Canadian government became official.

What can we do to support our friends in the Indigenous communities? First, to quote our Board member, Chris Googoo of Ulnooweg, “improve our ignorance of Canada’s history and our realities – my children live with this knowledge, so should yours.”

I urge you to read more about the history of residential schools and broken treaties over the last few hundred years. You can listen to this CBC podcast or this Canadian Encyclopedia podcast series. You can also read these books:

Before we can mend our relationships and reconcile with our pasts, we need to know what has happened. To better understand each other, we need to recognize what Indigenous people lived through and continue to live with today. We need to unlearn biases and start to dispel myths some of us have lived with our entire lives.

How can the business community get involved? We are leaders in our community. We need to set the example. Support Indigenous-owned businesses: Include them in your supply chain, give them a platform and share their content.

Engage with organizations like Ulnooweg, Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network and the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre. Hire Indigenous workers.

This Canada Day, take a moment to reflect on your experiences living in Canada and how they might differ from Indigenous Peoples’. Communities across the country are wearing orange this year––It’s a good place to start.

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President

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