SGI embraces Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce’s Indigenous Engagement Charter
- NC Raine | September 29, 2022
Reconciliation has been a prominent topic in social, cultural, and corporate spaces for several years, and a few major organizations in the province are ensuring Reconciliation doesn’t get pushed to the back-burner but stays on the forefront.
This fall, Saskatchewan Government Insurance, SGI, will be adding two full-time Indigenous Relations positions to their staff. The two positions, of which SGI is currently accepting applications, will be tasked with finding strategies and solutions to better serve the Indigenous population in Saskatchewan.
“We really want these two positions to work closely, listen and meet with Indigenous communities to hear what the issues are in the programs and services we offer, and work with us to build our strategy on how we can make improvements,” said Karol Noe, VP Corporate Auto Fund at SGI.
The two positions are a result, in part, of SGI signing on to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce’s Indigenous Engagement Charter in 2020. The Charter, of which SGI was one of the first signatories, serves as a roadmap to provide businesses with the tools to achieve Indigenous engagement, and assist the business community in demonstrating the role it must play in Reconciliation.
“As signatories, we are really committed to Truth and Reconciliation, and we’re really wanting to do what’s necessary to build, strengthen, and really improve our relationships. I think by creating these positions, it could really help us do that because we’re really looking for people who understand Indigenous culture and traditions,” said Noe.
Gaps in SGI’s service that the new positions could potentially address, said Noe, include working on traffic safety and education in Indigenous communities, licensing, and providing access to car seats for families in need.
The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce hopes other large organizations are able to take note of SGI’s efforts in Reconciliation.
“I think what SGI is doing is really important because it sets the stage for other large businesses like SGI to do the same. And it’s a significant commitment,” said Prabha Ramaswamy, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.
And the Chamber’s Indigenous Engagement has begun making waves since its introduction. From 2020 to 2022, the Chamber has seen a five percent increase in those who have engaged in personal training or training through work on Indigenous history and culture, a 10 percent increase in businesses having relationships or partnerships with Indigenous organizations or institutions, and 23 percent more businesses have an Indigenous engagement strategy.
“Of course there’s a social and moral imperative to bridge the education gap and bring more Indigenous people to the economic table, but there’s also an economic imperative. As a result, the Indigenous Engagement Charter was created,” said Ramaswamy.
According to a 2011 University of Saskatchewan report, fully engaged Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan’s economy is a $90 billion opportunity.
“I think we’re at a point in our province and in our history when Reconciliation is top of mind, and we do have a level of awareness and impact in a way that never existed before. And I think the time is ripe for us to really push Indigenous engagement and get people’s buy-in,” she said.
Ramaswamy said she believes they are finally moving the needle in the Saskatchewan business community, but that there’s plenty of work left to do. She’d like to see the Indigenous Engagement Charter as a staple for all Saskatchewan businesses.
“We would like this Charter to permeate all businesses in our province. Ideally, all business will be a signatories and we will have integrated Indigenous people into our province,” said Ramaswamy.
“That we as a province would have leveraged the resources and talent of our Indigenous people and fully integrated them into the workforce.”