Aboriginal Liaison


Aboriginal liaisons help build constructive relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and aim to improve the relationship between their employer and the community members. The people want to better understand company operations and to understand how these operations would affect their traditional lands. Aboriginal Liaisons meet with members of the community to learn where sacred and traditional lands are, and later advise their company what land to leave untouched and where the community will allow development.

The top of a totem pole with blue sky and green trees

At a glance

Imagine you are in Nunavut. The smell of tobacco, sage, and sweet grass fill the air. Drums are playing in the background—a steady and constant rhythm. As an Aboriginal liaison, it is important for you to participate in this Aboriginal spiritual ceremony so that you can learn about the sacred rites of the people with which you will be negotiating.

After the Aboriginal spiritual ceremony, you meet with the Elders to discuss their points of view and concerns regarding the new petroleum project that will be initiated close to their community. You are expected to facilitate communication and understanding between the Aboriginal community and your corporation. After listening carefully to their concerns, you explain the interest your company has in contributing to their community. Through investment in training and Aboriginal employment programs, your company plans to include the local Aboriginal people in its newest project.

After much discussion, the Elders make it clear that they will not allow development on one specific plot of land. It is your job to communicate this message to your company and participate in developing an alternative proposal for the project.

As a part of the Aboriginal relations team, you have interactions with various stakeholders, such as the government, Aboriginal community leaders, not-for-profit organizations, and corporations. Therefore, it is important to consistently project a positive, professional image on and off the job.

Job duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an Aboriginal liaison:

  • Conduct research, develop policies, and implement programs
  • Develop programs to employ and keep Aboriginal employees
  • Improve the working environment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal employees by promoting cross-cultural understanding
  • Ensure Aboriginal participation in impact assessments, proposals, and developments for long-term projects
  • Visit communities and share information
  • Promote the services and policies of the organization they work for to the Aboriginal community at career fairs, town hall meetings, etc.
  • Establish scholarships and recognition awards for Aboriginal students

Work environment

In the Office:

  • Conduct research on communities that are being affected
  • Write reports to company based on primary and secondary research
  • Create promotional activities for the company

In the Field:

  • Meet with members of community to learn where sacred and traditional lands are located
  • Hold meetings to find out what communities need
  • Advise the company where communities want development and where the land should remain untouched

Where to work

  • Federal, provincial/ territorial, municipal, or community/ nations government departments
  • Environmental organizations
  • Interest groups
  • Private sector companies
  • Consulting firms

Education & requirements

High school courses that will prepare you to work in a multicultural setting as an Aboriginal liaison include:

  • Business
  • English
  • Math
  • Aboriginal studies
  • History
  • Languages

The minimum education usually required for this job bachelor’s degree or college diploma in a social science (such as sociology) or business administration. A master’s degree may also be required and may make you more competitive in the job market. With this degree, you will find it easier to get a job and negotiate your salary.

Before becoming an Aboriginal liaison training is often required in:

  • Aboriginal languages
  • Negotiation and mediation
  • Computers, especially presentation software

Salary

An Aboriginal liaison who has recently graduated with a certificate or diploma will make $28,000 per year in Canada.

Graduating with a university degree and entering into a position as an Aboriginal liaison will offer a salary of $54,000 per year. With several years of education and experience the average salary will increase to $150,000 a year.