Our journey towards Reconciliation
At Momentum, we’ve committed to becoming a trusted partner in reconciliation with Indigenous communities. We’re only at the beginning of this journey, but from staff and Board participation in learning events like a blanket exercise, to exploring how the oral tradition can enhance the way we deliver programs, services, and information, we know that it is an essential one.
Listen: Donna McBride, Director of Operations, speaks about how reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous communities became an area of focus for Momentum.
Iitsihtaana – Momentum’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy
In the spring of 2016, Momentum set out to develop a strategy to guide the organization in strengthening its relationship with Indigenous communities and increasing its capacity to provide services to the urban Indigenous population in Calgary. Momentum’s Indigenous Engagement Strategy incorporates perspectives, data, and insights obtained through both comparative analysis of Momentum’s and Indigenous approaches to community economic development (CED), as well as Momentum staff interviews, surveys, and community information sessions. The strategy is rooted in the understanding that the shared strengths of the two approaches to CED can serve as a bridge across difference and be used to make Momentum more inclusive for Indigenous communities.
In June 2017, Blackfoot Elder Clarence Wolfleg, along with Roy Bear Chief, performed a blessing ceremony in the presence of Momentum staff to recognize and legitimize the Indigenous Engagement Strategy in a way consistent with Indigenous traditions. During the ceremony, the written strategy was placed inside of a bundle and given the name Iitsihtaana (ee – tseeh – taa – nii), which means will, state of mind, and thoughts. The bundle and associated blessing ceremony serve as an Indigenous parallel to creating a written strategy.
For Indigenous peoples, bundles are sacred articles that have their own meaning. Traditionally, they are cared for like children and must be nurtured and respected. Through the blessing of the bundle, Momentum has committed to nurturing and caring for the work identified in the Indigenous Engagement Strategy.
Why is becoming a trusted partner of Indigenous communities important to Momentum?
Statements from Momentum’s Board of Directors
We asked our Board of Directors to share why they think Momentum’s Indigenous Engagement work is important. Here are some common threads among their responses:
Engaging Indigenous communities in Calgary is integral to our ability to advance our goals of an inclusive local economy, shared prosperity, and poverty reduction.
Partnering with Indigenous communities and embracing their traditions, values, and culture, including through the incorporation of Indigenous approaches in our programming, can strengthen and add a richness to our work.
We all have a lot to learn about the history of our country—particularly regarding the lasting impacts of colonialism.
Reconciliation—the journey of learning and healing we are all on together—goes beyond our work here at Momentum and touches all Canadians.
Acknowledging the land
Momentum is honoured to be on Treaty 7 territory. We acknowledge that many have come before us and we hope to be effective partners and stewards of this land during our time here.
Spanning generations, acknowledgement of the land is a traditional custom of Indigenous peoples when welcoming outsiders onto their land and into their homes. Acknowledging the land helps to build respectful relationships and is an important part of reconciliation. It honours the authentic history of North America and its original people, while telling the story of the creation of this country that has historically been missing.
We think that the Calgary Foundation has done a fantastic job of exploring the significance of land acknowledgement in the following video.
Advancing reconciliation through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action
One step Momentum is taking to advance Reconciliation in Calgary is in finding points of alignment between our organizational mission and the 94 Calls to Action identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada.
So far, we’ve selected the Calls to Action that we believe we can meaningfully work toward within our organization, through our programming, and in our community.
Read: Interested in finding out more about the TRC? Learn about all 94 Calls to Action.
We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
As a training provider, Momentum knows what a powerful role educational and employment opportunities can play in providing individuals a long-term pathway out of poverty. To eliminate the gaps in access and opportunity for Indigenous Canadians, Momentum is committed to critically examining and adjusting our own programs—including our pre-Apprenticeship program for immigrants and Indigenous people—so that they better support the success of Indigenous participants.
Through our public policy and systems change work, we also see an opportunity to advocate for the prioritization of economic reconciliation for Indigenous Canadians in workforce development strategies, frameworks, policies, and programming.
We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.
There has long been discussion among Indigenous Peoples in Calgary about the need for a gathering place where Indigenous Peoples can freely practice traditional ceremonies and cultural activities. Through the work of the Indigenous Gathering Place Society of Calgary, this vision is becoming a reality.
According to the group’s mission statement, the Indigenous Gathering Place will be the space where we share, connect, heal, renew and celebrate Indigenous culture. Here we protect traditional Indigenous practices, languages, and Elders’ wisdom, and oral and written teachings, among all nations and all our relations.
Momentum staff are actively supporting the creation of the IGP, including by hosting community conversations to guide the process. When complete, the IGP will support the healing objectives of Call to Action #21.
As Momentum’s own space evolves, we also see an opportunity to include within our own walls a cultural space that incorporates Indigenous design elements.
We call upon the federal government to provide more supports for Aboriginal programming in halfway houses and parole services.
At Momentum, we often partner with other organizations to deliver Financial Empowerment programming. Here, we see an opportunity to be intentional about targeting Indigenous-serving agencies, halfway houses, and correctional facilities for training delivery and for resource designation.
We’re also looking to increase our capacity and ability to recognize and provide appropriate supports for individuals facing legal issues—including how to make a referral and offer additional resources.
We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt UNDRIP as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources.
III. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, and UNDRIP, treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism
So far, a large component of our Indigenous Engagement work has been increasing staff and board knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Indigenous history and culture. We’re just beginning this learning journey, but a few highlights include hosting a blanket exercise for staff and Board, incorporating Indigenous learning opportunities into monthly staff meetings, and bringing in an anti-racism training for all staff. We look forward to continuing to deepen our understanding so that we can more meaningfully partner with Indigenous communities in Calgary.
We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the treaties and the history of residential schools.
60 per cent of participants in Momentum’s programs identify as immigrants. We see this as an opportunity to play a small part in sharing a more inclusive history of our country.
As a first step in support of the vision outlined in Call to Action #93, we’ve revised our own materials. We’ve created a reference document to guide facilitators in welcoming new program cohorts and workshop attendees in a way that acknowledges the land, our role in reconciliation, and our Strategy.
Momentum regularly works with partners to provide better service, referrals, and support to the community.
Please check out some of these great organizations we call friends.
- Alberta Indigenous Construction Career Centre
- Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement
- Community Futures Treaty Seven
- Indigenous Advisory Committee
- Mount Royal University – Iniskim Centre
- Riel Institute
- Rupertsland Institute
- Samson Cree Nation (Community Wellness, Income Support)
- Siksika Nation
- Southern Alberta Institute of Technology – Chinook Lodge
- Sunrise Healing Lodge (formerly Sunrise Native Addiction Services)
- Tsuu T’ina Nation