MHCA signs onto Indigenous Accord, moves on ‘call to action’
On a day described as ‘momentous’ by some gathered at Winnipeg’s City Hall courtyard, MHCA President Chris Lorenc signed the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord. As a signatory, the association commits to working in the spirit of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s ‘calls to action.’
“We are proud to join with the City of Winnipeg and all its partners on meaningful initiatives in our industry to be more inclusive of Indigenous peoples,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said, following the signing June 18. “Our industry has a record of training and employment of Indigenous workers and is working on educational programs to put people on the path to good careers.”
Lorenc said the MHCA intends to hold cultural awareness workshops for staff. “We all need to know our history better, to ensure our efforts towards inclusion and reconciliation are successful.”
“When First Nations do well, everybody does well,” noted Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Dumas called the signing ceremony ‘momentous’. There is hard work ahead, he said, but the ‘progress report’ released Tuesday shows “we are moving the markers together.”
Mayor Brian Bowman launched the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord following the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action in 2015. The commission arose from demands to investigate and acknowledge Canada’s colonial, racist history and its policies that trampled the rights of Indigenous peoples through destructive laws and programs, such as the Indian Residential School system.
Reconciliation recognizes that racism has hurt all Canadians, and aims to repair the relationship between Indigenous peoples and governments, other Canadians, cultural, business and educational institutions.
Mayor Brian Bowman said the progress report is “full of signs of a community that cares.”
It was noted at the ceremony that, in the same year the TRC released its 94 Calls to Action, Winnipeg was labelled as “arguably” Canada’s most racist city, sparking a loud and painful public debate about how Manitoba’s capital treats Indigenous peoples.
The MHCA’s focus is on Call to Action 92 (see below), which calls upon the corporate sector to ensure, amongst other things, equitable access to jobs and training for Indigenous people.
To that end, MHCA to date:
- is developing a heavy construction certificate program for the high-school setting, with the Southeast Collegiate and Manitoba Construction Sector Council. The certificate would make Grade 12 graduates job-ready for entry-level positions in the industry
- is delivering in a variety of settings, including in northern Manitoba communities, introductory programs on heavy equipment operation
- initiated the Canadian Construction Association’s Indigenous Engagement Guide, the first of its kind for Canada’s construction sector. The guide’s intent is to build a respectful partnership in construction projects and ensure legacy value for Indigenous communities.
Click here for the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action report.