Applying the Concepts of Reclamation and Remediation when working with Indigenous Communities

Without question, the practices of reclamation and remediation are one of the most important aspects of environmental work in the 21st century.  As we strive to rectify and rejuvenate damaged sites from human activities, the practices of reclamation and remediation can easily translate into our interpersonal and professional relationships with Indigenous communities across Canada.  

Gary Pritchard is an established Environmental Project Manager at Curve Lake First Nation and provides his expertise on working with Indigenous communities. He is also a valued member of the Anishinaabe Nation. On November 28, 2017, Gary delivered an insightful webinar, Working with Indigenous People, and provides useful tips on how to establish a working relationship with Indigenous People that is respectful and allows them to reclaim their voice within today’s environmental issues. 

Whether you are curious about Indigenous cultural practices or it is essential for you to engage with the Indigenous communities in your working life, here are some key take-away points that will assist you with your interactions. 

1. When in doubt, ask.

2. Inclusion and Involvement.

3. How aware are you?  

Before, during, and after each interaction with an Indigenous person or community, Gary asks us to evaluate ourselves and observe any concepts of Indigenous persons that may limit your working relationship. Here are a couple of questions that he posed in the webinar: Are you comfortable working with Indigenous people?

4. Less is More. While Gary makes many valuable points throughout his webinar, one of his most memorable and lasting message is to reduce all formalities of regular business practices. 

Western business practice celebrates precision, timeliness, preparedness, and trails of paper copies and proposals. This is not the case for Indigenous business practices. This is not to say that there is no professionalism within Indigenous dealings, but their approach of conducting meetings and making deals is different from Western business.  

As Canada celebrated National Aboriginal Day on Thursday June 21, 2018, we can clearly connect Gary’s suggestions for engaging with Indigenous People in a respectful and honorable manner. Applying the same concepts of remediation and reclamation used in environmental work, these terms are important concepts to use for empowering and including Indigenous communities in environmental decision-making and future partnerships.

Watch the full webinar on demand: Available online 

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Written by Veronica Nhukwete 

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