Tech firms and First Nations Tech Council join forces to advance reconciliation

The new program provides participants with an opportunity to engage in reconciliation and create local, transformational change within their companies.

Working with SAP Canada, Pagefreezer, Microsoft and Bench Accounting, the First Nations Technology Council (FNTC) launched a new project, Moving Beyond Inclusion: Partnerships and Reconciliation.

The project, which began as a pilot program in 2021, is meant to advance reconciliation by decolonizing corporate systems and transforming the innovation, technology and technology-enabled sectors both provincially and nationally.

“We’ve seen that a lot of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work does not have enough emphasis on cultural safety and systems change to make a tangible impact,” said Lauren Kelly, director of sector transformation at the First Nations Technology Council. “As a result, we saw a need to do more than focus on inclusion and design actions grounded in reconciliation with an Indigenous lens. That’s how Moving Beyond Inclusion was born.”

The announcement was made today, Monday, August 9th, to coincide with International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2021.

The program provides participants with an opportunity to co-create a strategic and coordinated approach to actively engage in reconciliation and create local, transformational change within their companies. It guides companies through the development and implementation of an action-based roadmap to address the complex and interconnected barriers that exist with regards to Indigenous participation and leadership.

“The work we’re doing is advancing reconciliation by creating corporate cultures and environments that make space for Indigenous worldviews, culture, and thought leadership,” explained Denise Williams, FNTC CEO. “We are doing this work in service of Indigenous peoples to increase influence, leadership, and self-determination in the digital age so we can design what our digital future looks like for ourselves.

“In the process, we’re tackling racism, and exclusion in the tech sector head-on, both on a provincial and national scale. The ripple effects of this will likely be seen and felt internationally. We’re disrupting the status quo.”

In the BC technology and innovation sector, there are more than 100,000 people working but less than 1% identify as Indigenous, according to the FNTC. Part of the FNTC’s role is to convene with industry including technology companies, academic institutions and all levels of government to increase Indigenous representation in the technology and innovation sectors and to facilitate important conversations around economic reconciliation.

“We recognize that workplace culture is built by the actions of the people within it and see this program as a tremendous opportunity for our teams to learn and engage in reconciliation,” explained David Seymour, engineering site leader for Microsoft Vancouver. “We see the Moving Beyond Inclusion partnership as an important way to move forward in our journey to honour, share, celebrate and integrate Indigenous peoples, traditions, and worldviews.”