Media Releases Aug 15, 2019

Reconciliation in real life: How businesses and Indigenous peoples work together in Thunder Bay

(OTTAWA) –  August 15, 2019 – Reconciliation means many different things to many different people, but a new report finds most agree success depends on small, focussed actions undertaken day-by-day.

On June 19, 2019, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce sat down with business, post-secondary education, community economic development and Indigenous leaders in Thunder Bay to hear what they had to say regarding reconciliation, what it means to them, their communities and their businesses.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce report, Lessons in Reconciliation: What We Heard in Thunder Bay, captured the perspectives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous business, community and post-secondary education leaders from the second of three roundtablesin Western, Central and Atlantic Canada.

“What we heard in Thunder Bay was that successful efforts at reconciliation are rooted in a multi-directional exercise, where everyone has a responsibility in moving forward. We also heard that Indigenous peoples often have more skills for economic development than they’re given credit for.  Recognizing this is key to reconciliation,” said Susanna Cluff-Clyburne, Senior Director and Lead, Indigenous Policy.
“It was clear that one critical ingredient of success is recognizing reconciliation for what it is; an opportunity, not an obligation.  We heard how many businesses and Indigenous peoples have based their successful relationships on this belief. We’d like to see government do the same,” concluded Cluff-Clyburne.

The report’s lessons for government include:

·        Explore the social and economic potential of Indigenous peoples, communities and partnerships.

·        Recognize that to be successful you must seek outside assistance from business and Indigenous communities.

·        Research and document the capacity of Indigenous communities for project planning as well as developing procurement RFPs and determining Indigenous set asides. 

·        Acknowledge that you may have an institutional racism issue in your workplaces that are a result of decades-old policies and practices. Audit your workplaces to find out if this is the case and take steps to ensure your workplaces are as welcoming as possible to Indigenous and other under-represented peoples. This could include mandatory training on the histories of Indigenous peoples for those in roles that involve working with Indigenous peoples or issues that affect them.

·        “Choose some priorities, set measures for success, get down to work and get them done.”

Download the full report here. The Lessons in Reconciliation report on discussions with Indigenous and non-Indigenous business and community leaders in Saskatoon was released in June. The report for the Fredericton roundtable will be released this fall.

The Voice of Canadian Business

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is Canada’s largest and most representative business association, which speaks with one unified voice on behalf of nearly a quarter million businesses. The Chamber’s job is to help Canadian businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions grow their business. We do this by helping them connect to each other, new opportunities, providing essential business services, and influencing government policy on their behalf. For more information visit or follow us @CdnChamberofCom.

For more information, please contact:

Phil Taylor
Senior Director, Strategic Communications and Public Affairs (preferred and fastest response time)
613.238.4000 (2231)