Crosswalk painted orange with white feathers for Truth and Reconciliation
DiversityTips & Training

Resources to learn about decolonizing job search and hiring

Photo caption: A crosswalk is painted orange with white feathers for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Indigenous children who died in Canada’s residential schools. (iStock)

In 2021, Sept. 30 became the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour the many children who died in Canada’s residential schools, as well as the Survivors and affected communities. This is one of many steps Canada recognizes are needed to address the painful past caused by the residential school system, and to acknowledge and address the ongoing harms caused by colonization.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has created Calls to Action to “advance the process of Canadian reconciliation,” including actions businesses and governments can take to bridge employment gaps and ensure “equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities” –  crucial steps toward decolonizing the job market. Decolonizing hiring and the job search includes adopting an approach that is inclusive of Indigenous Peoples, that addresses and removes barriers to employment, and that is respectful of Indigenous ways of being. Heeding these Calls to Action is an important part of ensuring Indigenous voices are heard and helping facilitate healing.

The need for change is clear. Sixty-one percent of Indigenous workers surveyed by Catalyst Canada noted that they seldom or never feel psychologically safe at work. According to a document from Public Policy Forum and Action Canada, unemployment data from 2015 to 2019 indicates that rates of unemployment for Indigenous Peoples are higher than and sometimes even double those of non-Indigenous peoples. A 2020 report from Future Skills Centre found that addressing barriers to Indigenous employment could grow Canada’s economy by $27.7 billion annually.

Whether you’re in a position to hire new employees, working with employers who are hiring or supporting clients who are Indigenous, the following resources and tools can help you advocate for or implement change to support the decolonization of hiring and job search.

An Introduction to Decolonizing and Reconciling Entrepreneurship (Small Business BC) [Article]

This article helps introduce readers to the concept of decolonization and encourages every Canadian to do something to help support it. Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee – founder of Decolonizing Practices and M̓i tel’nexw Leadership Society – shares her journey from measuring success by financial gain to embracing an approach to entrepreneurship that includes “Indigenous ways of being.” This article also offers suggestions for decolonizing your own business, including how you approach the land upon which you work and the value of establishing an Indigenous Cultural Safety Plan in your workplace.

Decolonizing and Indigenizing your hiring process (University of Victoria) [Guidance document]

As part of the University of Victoria’s commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, UVic consulted its Native Student Union and Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement staff members to put together this series of questions designed to “help employers better support and retain Indigenous employees.”

Questions fall under the following categories:

  • Questions about your workplace and intercultural training
  • Questions about hiring and retention
Decolonizing Employment: Aboriginal Inclusion in Canada’s Labour Market (Shauna MacKinnon) [Book]

Decolonizing Employment aims to demonstrate the trauma and negative effects of colonization on generations of Indigenous Peoples. This book by Shauna MacKinnon can help readers understand the importance of decolonization and its impact on the Canadian labour market. The book also explores how the current economy neglects to include Indigenous North Americans. As MacKinnon spoke in an interview about the “privilege [she has experienced] that comes from being ‘white,’” it appears this book is written from a settler perspective.

Equitable Faculty Recruitment and Selection Toolkit (University of Waterloo) [Toolkit]

This toolkit by the University of Waterloo equips employers with numerous tips to help design a recruitment process that takes an equitable approach to hiring. There are several points specific to Indigenous candidates, including tips on the following topics:

  • Important biases to consider
  • Developing the job ad
  • Developing assessment tools and interview questions
  • Evaluating candidates (shaping interview questions)
  • Holding interviews
  • Websites, publications and organizations supporting designated groups, including Indigenous Peoples (for example, the section about Recruiter and Retention Training)
Hiring for Decolonization, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Creative Industries Micro-Credential (OCAD University School of Continuing Studies) [Course]

This online course offered by the OCAD University School of Continuing Studies was designed to help students achieve multiple learning outcomes that support decolonizing the hiring process, such as which human rights laws justify the importance of hiring Indigenous, Black and People of Colour candidates, and how to create job postings that reach diverse candidates. Course modules include:

  • Module 1: Human Rights Laws and Hiring for Decolonization, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Module 2: Where are the Indigenous, Black, and POC Creatives? Not where you are.
  • Module 3: Systemic Exclusion: Cultural Calls and No ‘Fits’
  • Module 4: Reach Critical Mass When Diverse Employees Tell You So
Indigenizing workplaces—what does it mean and how do we get started? (Human Resources Professionals Association) (HRPA) [Article]

This short article describes the inequities and injustices experienced by Indigenous Peoples and concludes that there is an urgent need to Indigenize workplaces and “cultivate environments wherein talent from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities can thrive.” The article goes on to describe the role that human resources can play in Indigenizing workplaces. To help working professionals take action, HRPA provides access to on-demand recordings (available to HRPA members and non-members for a fee) from the micro-conference that took place on February 8, 2022, on “Deconstruction: Crafting Inclusive and Equitable Workplaces.”

Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. [Organization]

This training organization offers various resources “to get everyone Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®” including:

Nahanee Creative Inc. [Organization]

Nahanee Creative is a social change agency that offers decolonial consulting centred in Indigenous teachings. It offers facilitated and on-demand workshops on topics such as “Decolonizing 101,” “Etiquette for Allies” and “Introducing Decolonizing Practices.” Nahanee Creative has also published two workbooks: Decolonize… a recalibrating guide and workbook and Decolonize First Workbook.

Additional reading:

Marisa Baratta is a writer and editor who lives in Ontario with her husband and their children. She loves writing, especially fiction that touches your heart, opens your mind, makes you laugh and inspires positive change. Her shelves are lined with short stories, poems and chapter books she wrote since she was five. She can often be found writing, reading, cooking, walking near trees or spending time with her loved ones.
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Marisa Baratta is a writer and editor who lives in Ontario with her husband and their children. She loves writing, especially fiction that touches your heart, opens your mind, makes you laugh and inspires positive change. Her shelves are lined with short stories, poems and chapter books she wrote since she was five. She can often be found writing, reading, cooking, walking near trees or spending time with her loved ones.
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