PeaceTalk #37: Reconciliation through Indigenous Innovation

at the moderator I do want to acknowledge that we're gathering today on the additional emcee the territories of the Coast Salish people the Musqueam the Squamish and the slave of truth Nations and acknowledging this is really important both for peace heaps but also for myself as a moderator because how did we talk about peace if we didn't acknowledge the people on whose land or gathered today so thanks to all three of you for being in tonight and for having this conversation with us Alexander Dirksen here in the in the middle of the panel is a self-described meaty policy wonk he works with reconciliation Canada as a government and stakeholder engagement person and he's also working with the operations manager with the band forum previously he's worked as a non-profit consultant and researcher in in these spaces when we have the news Williams who is the executive director of the First Nations Technology Council she is Coast Salish from the from Cowichan tribes and she is also an advocate for social social justice and for indigenous sovereignty and for the last 10 years we've been working with under the Mandate of First Nations leadership and person agents communities to address capacity-building efforts and education and Technology death warrant here to my left is the founder and CEO of Ameche indigenous technology a firm based in Victoria Jeff is a deep way and meaty originally from Manitoba but now resides on Vancouver Island on the traditional territories of the Sun he's and it's wild Nations he's a serial entrepreneur and has launched various businesses and with an MEP him and his team provide software web application websites and solutions for leading indigenous groups he's also he was also a statement gatherer for Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission so he can't wait to hear from these three wonderful folks this amazing panel so without further ado I'd like to turn it over to our panelists and the question that I put two though that we've discussed and landed on to start with is what the reconciliation and indigenous image innovation means to you and your work and your experience and how are they late thank you very much thank you all for being here tonight I just want to echo Sebastian's opening acknowledgement of the traditional unseated territories upon which we are as a guest I want to pay my respect to elders both past and present I also want to recognize the courage and resiliency of residential school survivors and also acknowledge the families of the missing and murdered indigenous women in this country as well so we're gathered here today to talk about reconciliation and innovation but I really want to start one step prior to that which is what does reconciliation mean to you and we're gathering here today it's in the midst of the hundred and fiftieth year of Canadian Confederation and this is I believe is one of the most critical questions that we face as a country both as individuals and as a country moving forward it's a question that really challenges preconceived notions that we might have of what it means to be Canadian and really serves as a call to action for all of us to begin to articulate our role in crafting a future of inclusivity justice and equity so it's been nearly a decade since the national and the national apology was delivered on the floor of the House of Commons to survivors of the residential school system and two years since the release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission within the report were 94 calls to action a rallying cry to political economic and social institutions to begin the long road towards national healing and renewal in the ensuing years change has indeed come we see it even here within the city of Vancouver but it's not yet enough nor are the calls to action for all of their value within this space the singular comprehensive blueprint for reconciliation in this country either it's often overlooked that the Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples put forth a 20-year plan to revitalize relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous people's two decades ago in 1996 so we've reached this pivotal pivotal juncture in the records silly asian movement we're maintaining its momentum in a meaningful and sustainable way has emerged both as a cause of concern but also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to reimagine the future of this country but to do so I believe we must move beyond committees and commissions as the impetus for action challenging the long-standing systems and structures that make up our daily lives which brings us to the topic of tonight's discussion what role can innovation and technology play in the meaningful advancement of reconciliation in Canada I believe that the opportunities and possibilities are endless but only if the work is undertaken in a way that empowers indigenous leaders and communities through representation pure intention and clear vision so I want to spend a few minutes addressing each of these in turn as a foundation for a kind of our broader conversation this evening so the first is representation because I really think this is where these conversations need to start so really it begins with who's seated at the tree at the proverbial table or in this context who's who is a seat in the circle because in order to craft tools of values value the voices of those who will ultimately embrace or reject these tools must be part of the design and development process overcoming pervasive and persistent workforce demographic trends in the tech sector is going to pose a considerable challenge in this regard looking at Google's latest diversity report the organization overall is 69 percent male and 59 percent white figures that jump to 76 percent male and 70 percent white men when you look at positions of leadership within the organization so while true in all spaces this focus on representation is particularly important within the digital space so many of this country's political social and economic structures were shaped in a time and place far different from our own and driven by a limited range of lived experiences but if you look at what's possible through technology if you have a vision and a keyboard you can create a reality that is unconstrained by biases stare types and constraints that we currently experience in our day-to-day lives next is intention so when we look at the efficacy of an initiative within the reconciliation space I asked the simple question of reconciliation for whom and I believe a similar question must be asked for innovation and technology when it's applied to reconciliation there's a tendency among some Canadians to mistake a lie ship for aid overlooking the resiliency vibrancy and value that indigenous voices bring to these conversations we must be particularly cautious of this oversight when it comes to technology for despite one's best intentions we run the risk of replicating ill-fated forays of expert of evangelism abroad one needs to look no further than the failed attempts of Facebook and Google at Internet for all which is critics have at best labelled as idealistic and at worst a form of digital imperialism and lastly is the vision and here I think it's really important because we live in a world of taps swipes and clicks and it's easy to become enchanted by the lure of pixelated progress but no app will be a panacea for reconciliation in this country to be effective technology must be seen as a means with which to strengthen and supplement ongoing efforts within a community when we speak of connectivity there is no greater connection than a connection between people and that needs to be the foundation of all of this work so when agency intention and purpose are aligned technology can play a pivotal role within the reconciliation space but if it's successful one of its most powerful contributions will not be a platform program or device but instead it'll be a philosophy Steve Jobs once noted that everything around us in the manufactured world has been made by people you can change it you can influence it you can build your own things that other people can use so imagine for a moment if we embrace this belief pushing past current preconceptions to actualize a bold vision for reconciliation in our communities and in this country what if we treated Canada's Democratic legal and social systems like strings of code created by humans how would we alter these systems to better reflect indigenous ways of being and better reflect our hopes for future generations and as we look boldly to the future and begin to envision ways with which to deepen and sustain our commitment to reconciliation I just want to close my opening remarks by grounding us with a teaching shared by Justice Marie Sinclair at the inaugural in indigenous innovation summit innovation isn't always about creating new things or creating new ways of doing things innovations sometimes involves looking back at our old ways and bringing them forward to this new situation I look forward to tonight's conversation of both old and new ways thank you wow that was awesome I don't have not as well prepared but there's some crossover but thank you that was those really great so my name is Jeff Ward did you want us to introduce yourselves a little bit okay so I think possibly why I was invited here is I run an indigenous technology company and we're social enterprise registered B Corp and yeah really trying to make sense of this very question this first question of you know what is indigenous innovation how does it relate to reconciliation and I think the that's a really big question and really needs to break down those two things so reconciliation for example we could spend an entire lifetime discussing what that is but from my perspective reconciliation is coming together or coming together again so looking at the history of this country we have you know the early relationships were of mutual prosperity you know there were treaties which were nation to nation agreements we have even documented and in pieces of arts like the the wampum belt I'm not sure if you've seen what a wampum belt is but it's it's two streams representing two canoes not interfering with with the other traveling down the same stream together so in reconciling I see that is coming back to a healthy relationship and definitely we haven't we're not in a healthy place in this country so I'm happy that these conversations are happening and there is an awakening happening right now in Canada there's national conversation that's happening and honestly all of you who came out here tonight you're some of the early adopters of these shift in thinking so I thank you for just showing up because I think that's that's a big message that's a big sign that you know you're committed to to understanding and learning more so reconciliation it's been said that you can't have reconciliation without truth of course we have the Truth and Reconciliation Commission so just curious how who here has heard of the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission okay most people in Canada so there was a national poll recently where you know conducted but by some some thought leaders in the space national center for truth and reconciliation and others and Canadians when asked about residential schools about 66 percent of people have heard of residential schools which is probably a lot more than five years and ten years ago but only 40 percent have heard of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and when looking at deeper understanding of indigenous peoples in Canada indigenous ways of knowing and being indigenous perspectives indigenous worldview things like the 60s scoop or the understanding is is much it basically drops off at that point so there's a lot of surface talk happening about reconciliation and there's a lot of info out there so I encourage you to just you know do your homework there's we're chatting earlier Google is the things your best friend there's so much information out there right now on these topics that really there's no excuse to to you know not be to be in the dark on these topics so another quote from Cindy Blackstock she said reconciliation is is not having to say sorry twice which i think is really interesting because when we look at one of the ways of indigenous ways of knowing and being is in our innovations are things like restorative justice making restitution making things right and if we do things in a good way I think we can reconcile we can come together so that are my thoughts on reconciliation so the innovation piece of it so indigenous people have been on these territories innovating for millennia as long as I can remember at least so you know there's many innovations when I think of innovation I think when most people think of animation they think of new things technology these sort of things where technology is innovation is more of an umbrella term I think and technology is just one ways one way that we can leverage technology for innovation indigenous voices are very strong and we're we're rising our voice is being amplified in the media and I think with the the technology piece of it social technologies like social media where we were saying this stuff all along just now folks are hearing us loud and clear sort of thing and I think that's you know when it comes to indigenous people leveraging technology this is just the beginning the work that the Technology Council is doing is just the beginning there are going to be a lot more indigenous technologists to supplement and support the work of all the other innovators that are happening within the indigenous movement I actually had the same quote written down to Murray Sinclair yeah yeah I'm gonna say and maybe say a third time but innovation isn't always about creating new things innovation sometimes involving looking back to our old ways and bringing them forward like I said we're very innovative bunch in so many different areas I mentioned ways innovations such as restorative justice economic innovation health political and now technologies is is a different way that I say it's my tool of choice my my weapon of choice maybe not weapon that's a little too harsh but it's my tool of choice yeah okay we got a fight gotta fight back so I think that's that's all I'll say now as far as innovation goes and how there relates to reconciliation but it is really a multi-layered each topic it's it's huge and I think it's just this is like tip of the iceberg stuff thank you thank you well I don't have a quote now so but you know welcome to KO sailor's territories everyone thank you for coming here this evening my name is Denise Williams I am Co Salish I'm from Cowichan the home of the best sweaters in the world and you know don't don't listen to what VANOC 2010 told you I am the executive director of the First Nations Technology Council and the vice-president of the urban Native youth association I've been living in Vancouver for 16 years love the work that we're doing here in gas town and Technology and social innovation very much appreciate my colleagues spending time with us here this evening I think these are the leading minds in reconciliation and innovation a little bit about the Technology Council we've been around since 2002 I've been the executive director for a few years now I was – but I think it's for you know five I don't know say time goes by so quickly a lot of the work that we do is building the indigenous innovation ecosystem as we like to say and as my colleagues have pointed out indigenous people are the original technologists and innovators on these territories and we're yet to really understand what their contribution is and you know I think it's really important that we spend the next few years as we see technology being the fastest growing sector in British Columbia the the biggest employer you know I come from a family of foresters my dad's a logger and my mom's a truck driver the perfect BC forestry love story it didn't work out so don't get don't get too romanticized about but here I am anyways but but you know but things changed you know I grew up in Haida Gwaii in a logging camp and I knew pretty young that I didn't quite have the build to be a faller or a machine operator but you know what really stood out to me and thinking about my experience growing up in Haida Gwaii as a young Indigenous girl is I didn't know what opportunities were really available to me you know you don't know what you don't know if you don't know lawyers and you don't know doctors and you don't know dentists in your life you don't really know those are education opportunities and it was the 80s so there was no internet and certainly don't internet in Haida Gwaii you know that's still a thing that I'm going on about today so you know moving into moving to Vancouver Island and having access to something more than a gold leaf encyclopedia set was really something you know in my own evolution of understanding what I could do where I could contribute and my parents foolishly let me have a computer in my room in the 1990s that was before parents really knew what computers were really all about and I don't know if anyone remembers nineties chatrooms but they were they were a funny thing anyways I tell you this because there there are still a lot of the majority of young indigenous people living in remote communities lived very much the way that I did in 1984 and they don't have access to the Internet and they don't have access to the the vast body of knowledge that the rest of the world does what does that mean and how will that digital divide continue to create socio-economic disparity in the society and in the time of exponential growth of Technology we're talking about generations missing out on participation in this economy and it's not okay so I think that there's a few things that are happening I think there's a lack of political will I think there's a lack of will from the industry to make things different and I think there's a lack of awareness and in this time of reconciliation as we talk about what we can do individually it's also important to talk about what we can do collectively to turn that dial to move the needle as we all talk about and I are very much appreciate the words from my colleagues about who's at the table who's not at the table who's not in the circle it's very easy to not see what's happening in northern British Columbia it's it's something that a lot of us don't don't don't have to face every day we talk about often that the Technology Council that connectivity in some First Nations communities is the same as being in P 3 of Pacific Center if you've ever tried to get a cell signal there it's the same thing you know imagine how outraged you are you know when a call drops you know for some First Nations in BC they have to walk out on to a point you know six kilometers down the road just to be able to make a phone call so you know maybe I have a no it's not a quote but you know I watched a documentary that meant a lot to me about Aaron Schwartz and you know Aaron Schwartz paid the ultimate price for releasing a number of documents from academic institutions to the hands of the public because he believed that access to information should be for everybody and it shouldn't just belong to the most privileged and years later after he'd passed away a young I read the story about a kid in grade 11 or 12 had been sifting through the documents that Aaron Schwartz had released from JSTOR and he had an idea for early detection of colon cancer and he had read through these documents and actually come up with a theory and come up with a process and he shot this to a number of different scientists and professors and I think the vast majority thought you know here's this kid from grade 11 or grade 12 I can't remember but um you know they didn't take him very seriously years later a couple years later when I think he was in college it ended up that he actually did find an early detection mechanism for colon cancer and that's the one that's used in North America today and he talks about the fact that because Aaron Schwartz released these documents he was able to vastly expedite his his knowledge and he was able to find solutions and validations to what he understood scientifically at a very young age my point is we don't know the most brilliant minds in the world and they're not always the ones with all the money and all the privilege and we very much miss out on what indigenous people have to offer in ways of thinking in ways of knowing and ways of being and in all of these ways that we long for a better economy for a better world for a better social connection indigenous people have a lot to say and a lot to offer about how that's been done so it's time in memoriam on these territories so the first nations Technology Council spends a lot of time thinking about access to information about how to inspire and engage young and indigenous people to be a part of this to have them be content contributors online and to ensure that they are shaping and co-creating the future not only participating in British Columbia's tech sector in Canada's tech sector but leading because at least five or six that would love that but I've come to limit myself to a few Deniz you've finished nice thing others on this note of all the opportunities that are there to actually have people give people access to ideas to the possibilities about theirs to happen participate in in the new economy and the opportunities that are being shaped right now but he also mentioned that there was a lack of will and a lack of awareness to actually overcome the hurdles today so my question is what is needed to overcome those and if I if I use that means and there's beautiful metaphor there what is it needed to to fix that that a string of code or to rewrite it so we can actually provide this opportunity quibble way yeah I wrote that down that might be the new code I open with yeah I'll make sure to note you what what's needed yeah to be to be frank amongst friends you know we have there's no shortage of money you know if money and government could solve problems you know we'd be alright there's no shortage of money to connect communities I you know we look at the estimated rough cost if we're just talking about cost of connecting communities it's somewhere up around two hundred and fifty million dollars to do the infrastructure build into First Nations communities in British Columbia there's two hundred three communities here most of them are small isolated some of them aren't but but you know a lot of them are so building fiber terrestrial fiber into those locations is it's a it's a it's a job you know BC has an interesting geography it's not like the rest of Canada you know sometimes I visit my colleagues in Alberta and Saskatchewan and I always come back you know just so jealous of their lovely flat land where they can put up a you know a tower and everybody has 50 megabits but what's really interesting along the 50 megabits vein is that CRTC just passed a decision which says that it's it's now a basic service that all Canadians have access to 50 megabits download and 10 up to date our provincial government has considered high-speed connectivity 5 megabits down and two up so that's not enough to like stream Netflix basically or download software anything like that so what what's happening in British Columbia is a lot of work and a lot of money has gone in over the last ten years to getting to five megabits so what does it take to get to 50 and what I mean by political will and will from the industry is the incumbent in the province doesn't have necessarily a business case to want to connect 203 remote communities that aren't necessarily all going to pay the $75 a month subscription fee and the provincial government doesn't have and the federal government doesn't have an adequate way of looking at how to cover the operational cost the sustainable cause so even if you were to spend 250 million dollars putting the infrastructure in how are those communities going to sustain that connection the thing that bothers me is that almost everywhere else in the world has solved that problem nobody's asking remote indigenous communities to pay in one example ten thousand dollars a month for the internet so while we see that CRTC decision playing in could take you know another 10 years we don't know exactly what those solutions are going to be and that's the work that the Technology Council is trying to be at the forefront of how do we ensure that the voices of those who are living on the margins are going to be served and not left unserved unless they can afford the cost to be subscribers to tellus so you know it's a matter of social justice and it's a matter of human right and it matters and people should know that that's what's happening so I think that's what needs to happen I think that there needs to be a better model what I'm hearing a lot of a need for for changing the narrative around this issue like what this is actually about we need people to to understand a narrative to actually ask for those changes and I've kind of connects it with some of the things that sander and Jefferson so from your perspective what is what does it take to address these issues what does it take to to change that narrative around innovation at reconciliation where once again while the talk tonight is indigenous innovation we've we've already chatted a little bit about the indigenous voice and the contributions of indigenous peoples in Canada past and present so I think framing that the discussion within indigenous innovation there are a lot of innovators out there innovating in all of these sectors technology education health and so on and I learned something recently about the law of diffusion of innovation where to reach a tipping point you sort of need there are a lot of different players that will adopt new ideas and if you were to like plot it on a bell curve bell curve I'm broken it up into innovators early adopters early majority late majority and the laggards was reading his book they said they called him the laggards basically don't be a laggard what in a typical scenario and I was reading it was like 22.5% sort of innovating create ideas and then it's the early adopters which is like you know fifteen or so percent kind of latch onto an idea I see a lot of the people in this room as innovators and early adopters your early adopters of the indigenous contributions or the potential to have indigenous perspectives on innovation in Canada so long story short giving voice to indigenous people amplifying indigenous peoples voices in all sectors and in all systems yeah we just add to that and say that I think in terms of changing the narrative particularly around reconciliation it's I often say reconciliation is a gift not an obligation and I think there's there's so much that we can about non-indigenous and indigenous that knowledge sharing that happens I think is is incredible and I think when we look at innovation being applied within reconciliation it goes back to my comment about a lie ship versus eight it's really about how do we make sure this is in a way that it's a mutual benefit and it's a conversation between two groups rather than us looking down upon a community that might not have access to the Internet and so there's some great examples of this already there's there's some incredible work happening right now in Australia around the indigenous peoples there and and what they've managed to do with technology and in the intergenerational knowledge transfer that's happened through technology the connection between community members that have left communities to go study abroad and have that connection back home and there's all these ways in which it can really strengthen reconciliation and also demonstrate to the outside community really was possible through some of this work as well but I think it's really about like I said shifting that conversation from being one of how can we help a remote indigenous community to one how can we engage in this mutual dialogue for mutual benefit thank you another question that really strikes me when we have this conversation about innovation and correct me if I'm wrong but sometimes a focus on innovation I think has the risk of distracting from from addressing some of those structural inequities and forms of oppression that we're facing it was mentioned in his opening remarks too so how do we ensure that that's not happening how do we integrate the innovation piece and addressing the past wrongs and addressing the structure that still exists that prevent us from moving forward the concept of you can't have reconciliation before truth truth coming from a place of Education we need innovation across so many systems but I believe education which was the thing that got us into this mess residential schools etc this is where this needs to be transformed because I'm sure many people in this room like myself did not hear about residential schools in in the education system so that's what I would say serve with the education system truth I don't I don't know that innovation distracts so I was just kind of grappling with with maybe that that idea I think that Jeff's absolutely correct there there's a lot behind the truth piece that needs to be done and that's work that everybody needs to undertake and I think it's powerful to watch so many people raise their hands when asked if they've heard of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and I think it's more powerful to see every hand go up in the room to know how many of you have read it good for you it's a long document it's a it's it takes a lot of a lot of hours and it takes a lot of time it's not something you can you can read quickly and I think as you as you start to understand what that history is you know it belongs to all of us the idea of innovation to me is very much you know it's a way forward and I think that we have to be we have to be focused on that and it's not one you know with the other I I very much believe that these things can happen at the same time and in a lot of cases I think it should because I think when we we read something as devastating as what happened in residential schools and I'm I come from a family of residential school survivors as well you know it's it's very much difficult it's a difficult place in terms of understanding who you are you know it's whether you're you know a settler or you're an indigenous person or you're somebody who's been intergenerationally affected by residential school and this all plays into our identity how do we fit into this how do our ancestors fit into this and how does that affect us today and now what are we going to do and I think that there's a real longing on all sides to understand this you know because we we have to come together as people and as a province and as a nation if we're if we're really going to you know be a place of home and you know safety and family for each other so I think this idea of innovation comes along with it because it's it's to me that next instinct right like how do we how do we work together then to make all of this better and and that technology piece I mean that's just the place it's that place of exponential growth like I say where there's more freedom to design and to co-create to think about you know social innovation how in social innovation being you know how can we make this a better world for all of us it's that's a perfect platform for this and so it's it's a place where there's a little more space I think for that type of dialogue yeah I mentioned at the start of my opening remark just about the year that we're in right this being one hundred and fiftieth year of Confederation and I think if we look at the history of the country thus far those in positions of power and privilege have done a lot of talking and I think going into the next hundred and fifty years it's going to have to start with a bit more listening and I think really particularly amongst social change makers innovators those that are sort of working in the tech space it's a lot of rapid prototyping iteration and moving very quickly into jumping into action and I think this is a space where like Denise mentioned that the fact that so many of you have read the The Truth and Reconciliation Commission I believe it starts with that I believe there's a piece about educating educating yourself educating those in your life and really making sure that before you jump immediately into action and and start you race race to the white board to start brainstorming some ideas that you really understand our shared history that you understand where we are in this country Denise mentioned sort of connectivity where we're dealing with over a hundred boil water advisories in this country let alone internet access and so there's still these are issues that's continued to play out there's more indigenous children in care now than the height of the residential school system these are facts that before you start any sort of prototyping or iteration you need to become aware of because that will guide your work and make sure that you're going about this work in a good way thank you and I'm glad you stressed the truth being part of it and Jack was the person to bring that happen I've also heard you speak about listening about education understanding and those seem to be key elements of moving forward now what we've seen in the last year or of these last years is also that the internet the digital space isn't always the place where that happens there is a potential for misinformation and for a lack of understanding and it's not always a lot of listening happening so my last question is a pretty big one but I'd love to hear your take on how do we prevent and how do we make sure that in those digital spaces we are actually listening and learning and understanding rather than the opposite I'll just start by acknowledging that we're not even a week away from the appropriation prize taking the Internet I think it's it's a very relevant question I think we're very much grappling with with what that looks like I think there's a question of how do we go about these conversations in a meaningful way but also in a way that doesn't rest so heavily upon indigenous people it should not always be up to indigenous people to educate non-indigenous people about our history about reconciliation Jeff mentioned Google like there's there's a certain amount of ownership that we all have to take around some of this work as well and we can't just be looking to indigenous voices to constantly fill those gaps in our knowledge and I think that's a huge piece of the conversation online as well as is I see it all the time on Twitter how do we make sure that there isn't that pressure for indigenous voices to have to speak up and defend points of view or explain pieces of our history so I think that's a huge piece picking up on some of the negative aspects of us moving into the dual spaces where there's a lot of misinformation happening about us talking at each other rather than talking to with misinformation how do we prevent that from happening I don't think you can't maybe we do that how do we grapple with that how do we how to balance it yeah I think what's I think what's you know weird about the online space and and I'm always somewhat concerned my point is I don't have an answer so I'm not going to land on one but I'm always somewhat concerned about how online spaces are being used for influence and for power and I think in a lot of ways it can almost represent the most ugly side of humanity and our society because it's so anonymous and so if there's a feeling that you have or there's some way you want to sway the public yeah you can do that without much you know backlash or without much opportunity for truth and for someone to respond and I think that that's really particularly recently I think that's really concerning and I think for I think for indigenous people you know there's a lot Jeff and I were talking about this earlier today I think that there's a lot you know I read some article a couple years ago that there's more about indigenous people online than there is created by indigenous people online but again you know that's that's representative of just the world we're living in so what I do know is that I'm inspired on a daily basis by indigenous youth and young people and anyone who knows me knows that there's nothing more that I like than a kid that doesn't really follow the rules and is a little bit out of hand those are my favorite kids you know because I know that those are the ones that are going to have the resilience and the voice and the fearlessness to say how they feel and I want that I want that for indigenous youth and for our kids because that silence is violence and I love hearing what they have to say hundred percent on it you know just what I want to spend every day on is making sure that we are strengthening those voices that we are creating exemplars making space for exemplars young indigenous people to come out and create music create media create content you know start in in the ways that they want to educate the world on who they are and what matters to them make space for that and and you know I think they are going to have and I've already seen it there they're going to have people make negative comments there's trolls that's what happens online but it's not a reason not to participate it's not preventable but like everything in life you build a resilience and you keep going the voice gets stronger the movement gets larger and people start to understand more about who indigenous people are and really value what we what we what we bring to the world and in an online space so I have one of those I have one of those kids who is just you know a little edgy he speaks his mind you know almost to a fault or maybe not to a fault I think you get along really well with him and you know we yeah we brush up against teachers and principals and that sort of thing because he's a very honest person he's just he's got that that justice instinct social justice and he'll he speaks up for people in less you know privileged situations and himself so he gets himself into trouble there and so the tools that will be available to him as he becomes a man and and gets his voice and contributes to the conversation I'm super excited for that so what the one thing I did prepare around this is so indigenous perspectives and voices have largely been excluded from Canada from history books politics and the media social technology is totally changed that decentralized network to share and collaborate on ideas and but the system of the media and those who hold power are losing that power and indigenous rising in digital are rising sorry there's a hashtag indigenous rising look it up it's a good one speaking of hashtags you know or serve before I get to the ashes I think you know as a result of that we're getting our voice back not to say that we never had a voice we've been having these discussions around our our kitchen tables for for decades it's just like said early now you folks are just hearing it your your hearing our voices because we have a platform which is you know powered by the social technology as evidence with movements like the idle no more movement hashtag I don't know more you know that the node Apple you know movement and even hash tag mmm iwg missing Merdan indigenous women and girls so you know we've always had a voice and and now you're hearing it in in new and different ways so there's social media there's podcasting there's some amazing indigenous thought leaders that you can just subscribe to like we don't now we don't need approval from you know big media network we can just you know grab a mic and and share with the world and even now we're seeing within the national media for example within CBC we have some indigenous guest personalities or hosts of shows like Duncan McCue and Candi pollinator you know Bob canoe was you know was a voice yeah exactly and there are a lot of voices now that are leading conversations now so yeah it's a very exciting time and with that I would like to open it up to the audience with for your questions for your thoughts on this topic my question I was just wondering I work in the tech sector here I was just kind of curious I'm not sure if this is like this is kind of one of the topics that we've talked about but um do you guys have suggestions as to how to highlight kind of get more people involved in detect like in terms of employment opportunities in the tech sector for people that kind of have been left behind and like what your guys these organizations do for that kind of situation and it specifically like employing people excellent question Tucker it's almost like I paid him to ask that question um well you know we think about that a lot I you know the Technology Council has been involved in digital skills development work all across the province for about five years so we've had over 2,000 people on reserve taking digital skills training because we want more individuals to work in the tech sector and organizations like yours so we've participated in a bunch of labor market studies on the tech sector in British Columbia and we've got a sense of where SMEs are playing a strong role I don't know if you work for a larger tech right yeah yeah so kind of an SME and you know one of the challenges there is that you know there's there's varying levels of infrastructure mechanism that you have for internships and co-ops and that sort of thing that's our understanding from you know being part of some labor market studies so what we've done is we've built a bridging to technology initiative that's going to be province wide and the idea is to give indigenous people on and off Reserve the opportunity to see what tech sector jobs look like that are going to be in demand because we know that there's a huge talent shortage in British Columbia in the tech sector and we know that there's all kinds of organizations like yours that are asking that question we'd love to we just don't know how what to do so we're creating a talent pool of indigenous people that will have the skills from bridging to technology to know what they're interested in then they'll have the opportunity to move on to an internship in places like yours if your company was interested in participating you could let me know or my colleague Lauren here and we'll we'll get in touch absolutely we have a great Advisory Committee and we have a big group of SMEs like yours and British Columbia that are interested in helping us to design our program to make sure we're creating talent that's going to be competitive and that are going to you know match up with exactly what what you're looking for that's a five-year long strategy and we're just starting now so we're looking for partners so anyway just come talk to us after or anyone else who's also in a tech sector so I run an indigenous technology company more than half of us are indigenous at the company and I'm very proud to say that we employ one of the former grads of the bridging to technology training program which is working out really awesome so when I started I named iki 1314 years ago there was nobody else doing you know a tech business focused within the indigenous community it was very lonely time for for a long time almost gave up several times and you know shifted to two different business models and that sort of thing in the last couple years we've had tremendous growth within our our company and more and more faces are are coming you know to us with you know very eager really supportive of the mission of what what we're doing within our company and it's totally different landscape than five ten years ago we had a job listing for Ruby on Rails developer and I was surprised how many more indigenous technology just there are out there and they were just coming out of the woodwork and I'm like whoa I've felt alone for so long and a lot of them they're very young very early in their careers and so yeah if I also have a as a result of that I have a list of indigenous technologists at various skill levels and interests so come grab a card I can connect you with people as well hi my name is officer I've run consulting innovation consultant from Vancouver and essentially what we do is perform innovation teams with people with different backgrounds and so right now we're actually trying one program where we take new Canadians written you know arrivals care with their expertise with our talent as they are and would form innovation task forces and we sell this innovation task forces you know to big corporations like Microsoft those so the idea if they seem to to faster corporate innovation by means of having external perspectives injected into their processes into their ways of doing business I would love to actually talk to you to see if we can actually have First Nations individuals as they are they don't have to be qualified or they'll have to be brilliant rails developers because we believe that that wisdom that knowledge that expertise and experience is inherently different from what we can offer and thus we can immediately exploit that value added almost right away so question for you is do you have any program for co-creation or coal development of sorts that speaks to this object thanks yeah well yeah a big part of the the development of bridging technology is to think about how we can open up a world of experiences that are going to be relevant to the indigenous people experiencing technology and those types of you know hackathon challenges or you know experiential challenges and co-creating something in the technology sector the idea has been brought forward to me by some of those partners that you've you've mentioned before and I'm absolutely interested of course I think that there's something in there you know to ensure that we're doing that in a respectful mindful way yeah so I'm an indigenous woman who's been part of the tech sector for for a few years I'm not a technologist but I'm certainly trying to you know push into some of these conversations and organizations you know and groups that are having these conversations about talent about you know ways in which we can engage indigenous perspectives one word you used exploit is one that is a dangerous one and can often start to create a space in which indigenous ways of knowing and seeing and being and that offering of knowledge can start to feel like it's not okay I think you said work is right the extraction of talent we want you can be a so I did when you try to denigrate or try to yeah I love this conversation because I'm not talking about purple blood from Jupiter like it's about indigenous people on these lands who have a right to a certain knowledge base which I very much appreciate that it's it's welcome in all forms in the technology sector the thing that terrifies me is it's not adequately respected and so it's what keeps me up at night is that there's a lot of work to do and that's why I'm gonna pass the microphone over to Alexandra after this there's a lot of work to do in reconciliation this is exactly the conversation we're having this evening you know how do we set up opportunities for the tech sector to become aware of the type of language and I'm not saying that you're part you know I don't know you but you know that that the tech sector is aware and educated and sensitive because the thing that I hear the most is this is a very diverse sector well we've got a diversity program it's you know we've we've done it you know check and and that's that's not the case when you're including indigenous people and into the technology sector diversity is a is a broad term inclusion as a whole other thing and and this is what this is what we're beginning to grapple with and the thing that I'm finding is at the CEO level at the vice-president level people are getting it when it comes down to the operational level it might be a diverse culture but it's very homogeneous it's it's very there's a culture there's a culture in the tech sector and we have to be careful about indigenous people entering into it because there's not a lot of shared values at the moment that's my belief thank you for reading that I'd love to hear from Alexandria that too but how did you get in a respectful way yeah I think just starting even at the personal level I've as myself as a young mate email have often at times not identified as matey because I fear that there's a special privilege or status that comes with that and that being indigenous and in any form First Nations indigenous or in Yui or matey that that is what is is identified as the value add that you have for an organization and not your actual skill set I think we're seeing this across the business community in Canada right now the Canadian Council Chamber of Commerce I think just put out a report echoing some of these things as well and there was a report last year as well looking at basically indigenous peoples as a resource as an untapped economic resource for this country and when we talk about extraction when we talk about exploitation it is very much continuing I think a historical trend of of seeing indigenous peoples as something that can be exploited by the dominant privileged people in society and so I think there's it goes back to my point around how do we go about reconciliation in a good and meaningful way is that we have to be walking together and this cannot be like I said a lie ship over aid it cannot be this dynamic where indigenous people are tapped upon just for being indigenous there's an incredible amount of skill and value in indigenous people in this country regardless of what form of indigent indigeneity they identify with so that that's sort of my initial thoughts so being indigenous in the tech sector and I guess in this I'm gonna tell a story it's about me going to like a mainstream tech event recently but before I get into that so the concept of diversity versus inclusion multiculturalism just in general in Canada you know Canada celebrates itself for being very multicultural and being diverse and it's it's a really beautiful idea it's a it's you know the idea where you know we're we're all eek you know yeah unity and diversity were we're all just you know different shades you know I don't care who you are what color that sort of thing you know we're all Canadians that sort of thing which is great and and beautiful when it comes to indigenous people on these on these lands on these traditional territories framed within this colonial history by lumping in indigenous people into this multicultural beautiful idea what it does is it disappears the past it gets everybody at the same playing level which is what multicultural limit multiculturalism is intended to do but for indigenous peoples it kind of yeah just like you know that's the past or move on now now we're on equal footing and we can move forward so within the the tech sector so this was just a couple weeks ago I went to a very the word huh swanky high-end highfalutin sort of big tech event there was over 600 people there most people were wearing tuxedos that sort of thing the women were dressed in ball gowns and blingy diamonds and you know the whole the whole thing and I knew this was the case going going there and I if I ever wear a suit I'm doing it ironically because it's just not sort of Who I am so I was sitting at a table of indigenous business leaders within the community where I live and I thought you know I'm not about to go rent a tux I'm gonna wear my my beaded necklace that my dad gave me it has a Thunderbird on it my my indigenous name is Annie Makiki Louisianans which is under birdboy deep meaning to me and I wear my moose ID pin here we both had massage so this is the moose hide campaign which I can I'll tell you about in a second and I was I was going – to the bathroom somebody called me over who I knew and introduced me to a local tech leader within the community really well respected individual and he's like how's his Jeff war above eyes they're trying to and he's like whoa is he what's all this stuff and he reaches and he grabs my beaded necklace and he's like flicking in he's like wow this is pretty crazy and then he goes to buy moose hide here and he he's like well what's this he's like flicking it and I said this is moose hide oh really that's pretty crazy hey because you know everyone else is like in you know wearing diamonds and all sort of thing and I just I know I just let him know this moose hide is to raise awareness of violence towards indigenous women and girls and just sort of like flat face and like oh oh okay you know so you know he wasn't going around to the women and flicking their diamonds up in and reaching to other men's ties and I was certainly wasn't playing with his tie but first somehow indigenous culture indigenous people get sort of a past just for it's it's devalued and and I worry as indigenous people get more into the tech sector and you know frame with this whole concept of diversity multiculturalism you know I that's just a in my gut a little bit of a worry just based off of you know one experience that I've had just in the last couple weeks so that's my story I went to share wasn't sure I was gonna share that it's pretty new I'm still a little worked up about it so thank you for letting me vent this other questions in the room another question I get it in my clothes so I'm sorry for those who are involved in housing tech corpus events as per example I think this one tonight or sometime it's like open data hack funny things like that how can we help or help them include First Nations in it but making sure the given way it said that like if that kind of culturally safe place if you're not just making the sake of embodiment but you're how do you clear that kind of safe space in and go about actually embracing them and their stuff that you're doing when you notice it's not happening naturally so the big thing I've been seeing it confidence I've been attending is there will be a reconciliation panel where all of the indigenous voices are placed and then you'll have a panel say on global affairs or business or something as if those panels wouldn't benefit from indigenous voices or as if business and global affairs don't impact indigenous people or vice versa so the big thing I would say is just avoiding the the tokenism and and really like I said before taking indigenous peoples as people with valuable contributions and not just slotting them all onto a single panel and and checking a box of we've had indigenous voices within our conference or event yeah and I really appreciate that question because I think that there's a lot of learning that we can do I'm interested in what you're talking about and you know what might these events be and how could they benefit you know some of the indigenous people involved in our programs and things like that and I think a really good starting place is just to to talk with the First Nations Technology Council other people involved in indigenous technology people who you know run these types of companies and and just you know we make that phone call and reach out and ask questions and you know kind of see how how can we you know learn about what you're doing and you can kind of learn about what we're doing and see you know just how that might work on the ground while understanding that some sometimes these intersections are kind of new so how can we in the leadership positions ensure that we're thinking about what some of those outcomes might be and how we might steer you know conversations about these things how can we you know have conversations nice and early about what tokenism might look like you know you know if if there's you know gonna be any concern about you know the crowd wanting to ask a lot of questions about indigenous people and cultures and kind of shining up all the indigenous people and putting them into the crowd and you know them having to feel sort of like now I answer for all indigenous people that's really uncomfortable so you I think that there's a there's a large leadership responsibility and due diligence to do have a good conversation before and in the long term that's what to me you know for the Technology Council is a contribution to reconciliation is you know knowing people like you and your organization's and how can we you know just work together to navigate those waters together so what Matthew I study I think we see how do you see you know like in spite of you know policies and lack of resources and what we've seen the status quo you know how are we making sure that you know you're still trying to build the foundation for the new the newer generations of indigenous peoples to participation like the conversation you know to understand about you know to have the something do you have you know just as many opportunities and resources to you know make themselves heard and also have happen dollars to innovate thank you that that's a very good question I think very important and timely right now and I would I would say in terms of the policy angle I come from a policy background so I'm quite frustrated with where we're at as a country when it comes to some of the policy progress but in its purest and best form democracies reflect the country that they serve so for me when it comes to reconciliation we don't have to wait for the government it starts with people like this in this room who are willing to start to engage in this work in a meaningful way if we keep doing that if we keep having these conversations if everybody in this room goes home and has this a similar conversation with somebody that you know and this starts to spread the government is going to be put in a position where there's a loud and growing voice of people who are asking for these opportunities to be created asking for a change and a lot of the policies that we see and we'll have to do something so to me we are like I mentioned in my opening remarks were at this critical juncture where we need to be finding a way to make this sustainable and to keep momentum and to me we can't be waiting for the government we need to be each of us finding a way of moving work forward what was your name I didn't Matthew well thank you for the land acknowledgement and that was a really well articulated thoughtful question thank you I agree I think that what I've seen as a not-for-profit that's trying to to do a lot of the work that you know arguably the federal government has a fiduciary responsibility to can be quite quite frustrating and the the policies and the institutions that are set up are are not designed to create strong self-determining nations and there's a lot of work to be done and I really hold my hands up and acknowledge the people who are working at that level because it is incredibly frustrating but the one thing that I've seen that could be quite powerful is when people when organizations when industries get behind these movements when it's people like you and your organization's that start to follow the work of the BC Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations summit and you Nina BC Indian chiefs paying attention to what they're trying to do what they're trying to push forward what organizations like reconciliation Canada are doing and being part of that you know it comes back to what's been said you know that's really what standing beside and being an ally is about you know be engaged be educated get behind it get mad be part of it with us because you know when when industries start to raise this at the provincial and federal level that this matters that indigenous people in my organization matters and I want to move my tech sector business out of Vancouver and to northern BC and indigenous people are there and I know that I have to figure out a way to engage those indigenous people there to make that business viable that's what makes the government listen that's what creates change and its reconciliation isn't only about indigenous voices it's about our voices together asking for change in a comprehensive collaborative way so I really appreciate that question I think it's a difficult one but I think it's the right one I'd like to thank you again for being here and for sharing your insights and putting yourself out there big round of applause [Applause] thank you very much and again thank you for being here and thanks for peace talks personation stability council and this is a natural of the high for putting us on today

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