This Monday, June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. That this day takes place during Indigenous History Month and Pride Month is of great significance to the communities Pride at Work Canada serves, which include Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer and LGBTQ+ Indigenous people. 

This year these concurrent celebratory months take place following the tragic discovery by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation of the remains of 215 First Nations children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. For Indigenous people in Canada the orange shirt is a symbol of the residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad. She shared her story of having her orange shirt, which was a gift from her grandmother, taken from her. The orange shirt is not only a symbol of what was taken from Webstad, but of all that was taken from Indigenous peoples by Canada, the residential school system and all that continues to be denied Indigenous peoples today. 

In the original Rainbow Flag designed by Gilbert Baker the colour orange signifies healing. Healing can only come through acknowledging truth and engaging in meaningful acts of reconciliation. Each of us has a shared responsibility to not only acknowledge the horrifying truths of our history and present, but take steps towards a better future. Don’t just think about what your business is doing for Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer and LGBTQ+ Indigenous staff, volunteers and clients today, this month and year-round: take action. 

Should you require inspiration on your journey forward, we hope you can benefit from the below list of recommendations for action. By no means exhaustive, we encourage our employer network to seek out additional recommendations from Indigenous organizations and communities.  

🔶 Pay Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer and LGBTQ+ Indigenous educators and elders to speak at your events for staff, volunteers, clients and customers. 
🔶 Ensure your business is promoting a prosperous Indigenous economy by engaging with organizations like the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
🔶 Extend donations to Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer and LGBTQ+ Indigenous charities and nonprofits creating change in our communities.
🔶 Host a session with staff to share the history of residential schools and how it relates to the barriers encountered by Indigenous people in the area of employment. 
🔶 Read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action and learn how to implement call 92, which focuses on business and reconciliation, and each of the calls that is relevant to your organization. 
🔶 Read Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report on the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
🔶 Read the 2SLGBTQQIA+ Sub-Working Group MMIWG2SLGBTQQIA+ National Action Plan Final Report.
🔶 Work with Indigenous-led organizations like Indigenous Works to review your business practices in order to make sure you are removing barriers for Indigenous job seekers and retaining Indigenous employees. 
🔶 Continue to learn about the experiences of Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer and LGBTQ+ Indigenous people in order to advocate for change.

May Pride bring us joy through healing.

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