In Toronto on November 23, 2023, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) joined forces to introduce a new resource— “Sharing Prosperity: An Introduction to Building Relationships for Economic Reconciliation in Ontario.” This collaborative effort is part of the broader Economic Reconciliation Initiative, aimed at helping businesses implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 92.

“Sharing Prosperity” is not your typical introduction; it’s a practical guide offering insights and advice on building relationships with Indigenous individuals, businesses, and communities. Covering topics like historical context, Indigenous rights, challenges faced by Indigenous businesses, and opportunities for engagement, the resource consolidates relevant information and sets the stage for a more detailed follow-up.

“The OCC recognizes that as a settler-led organization, we have the responsibility to take on this work and that reconciliation is an ongoing process of learning and action. Initial steps we have taken to date include increasing the representation of Indigenous Peoples on our Board of Directors, applying Indigenous perspectives to our policy work, and committing to undertake continuous internal training. Nevertheless, there remains much work ahead. This resource provides the business community with an introduction to the knowledge and know-how required to advance Truth and Reconciliation and build mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous Peoples,” explained Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, OCC.

Switching gears to the Indigenous economy, it’s a robust force contributing nearly $50 billion annually to Canada’s GDP, with over 75,000 Indigenous-owned businesses. The push for economic reconciliation isn’t just about doing the right thing; it’s also a smart economic move. Businesses of all sizes can explore various actions to support this cause, tailoring their approach to fit their organization and industry.

From fostering Indigenous cultural awareness to promoting equitable employment and business opportunities, businesses have options. This includes things like providing training, attending Indigenous events, offering reduced rates for Indigenous businesses, and implementing inclusive Human Resource strategies. Engaging with Indigenous communities through investments, partnership-building strategies, and procurement policies is also on the table. Businesses can even explore revenue- or equity-sharing agreements with Indigenous entities.

“We are proud to collaborate with the OCC and release the introductory resource of the Economic Reconciliation Initiative as we continue to take meaningful action towards economic reconciliation,” said Mathew Foss, Vice President of Research and Public Policy, CCAB. “This resource provides companies that want to take a step in the right direction to supporting Truth and Reconciliation a place to start and will begin to pave the way for inclusive growth.”

As we move away from traditional approaches, “Sharing Prosperity” marks a practical step forward. It’s not a call to arms but a nudge toward meaningful collaboration and shared economic success. Businesses are encouraged to explore the practical steps laid out in the resource and find ways to contribute to economic reconciliation in their own way.