Telecom giant, Telus, has become the first of its kind to commit to an Indigenous reconciliation action plan in Canada.
The plan was developed with input from Indigenous voices and numerous frameworks outlining reconciliation. It focuses on how the company can utilize its resources to help Indigenous communities. Indigenous leaders, Elders, and subject matter experts were some of the voices that contributed to the plan.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the 231 calls outlined in Peoples and the Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, were used as the basis for this plan.
The 39-page document focuses on four aspects. The first is connectivity; working with Indigenous governments and organizations to expand broadband. The company commits to enabling 20 communities with broadband access between 2022 and 2023.
Enabling social outcomes is the second pillar, and focuses on developing programs that focus on more than connectivity, and aim for long-term prosperity. This includes launching the Indigenous Community Fund in 2022 to so support communities in the areas Telus serves. The company also commits to financially supporting and volunteering for events led by Indigenous communities.
The third part is cultural responsiveness and relationships. This involves the company listening and learning about how it can “meet unique needs” and offer culturally responsive services. This will be done, in part, through developing a space to provide tailored experiences to Indigenous Telus staff and customers. The organization will also work to create guidelines to implement Indigenous perspectives in the corporate atmosphere in 2022. The company plans on offering acknowledgments of Indigenous territories in spaces held by Telus in 2023.
Economic reconciliation is the fourth aspect. It focuses on offering Indigenous communities economic participation and growth by working with Telus. Initiatives include creating a process that allows the company to support Indigenous businesses and increase spending with such businesses by 10 percent. The document lists 2022 and 2023, respectively, as the due dates for each goal.
The organization also commits to assembling an Indigenous advisory council in 2022 to monitor the status of the actions and provide continuous advice on how they can be implemented. The plan will be updated every year.
“Discrimination against Indigenous peoples has happened for [over] 150 years. We are willing to share our knowledge to support reconciliation,” Rose Crowshoe, Elder, Piikani First Nation, Treaty 7, said in a press release. “Telus is listening to the things we are sharing and I am glad that they are trying their best to do the right thing – especially through ongoing dialogue with Elders and knowledge keepers to learn the truth of our people.”