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Ottawa, May 11, 2017 – Business, government and Indigenous peoples need closer collaboration for real progress to be made in the reconciliation process, says a new report released today by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. This progress is crucial for Canada to move forward as a unified, stronger and, ultimately, more competitive country.

“Reconciliation is not a responsibility that is solely facing government or even business, but a challenge facing all Canadians,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “By coming together and finding a productive path forward, we can ensure our Indigenous communities have the tools they need to start and grow businesses, enter into respectful and lucrative agreements with businesses and, fundamentally, contribute to a stronger, more inclusive business environment in Canada.”

Coming Together, Making Progress: Business’s Role in Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples identifies the challenges both government and business face and makes recommendations for all parties to work together on the process. The report was developed through consultations with Indigenous leaders, representatives from the business sector and legal and national experts. 

“This latest report from the Canadian Chamber continues its insightful and constructive approach to enhancing economic opportunities for indigenous peoples and strengthening the Canadian economy,” said Clément Chartier, President of the Métis National Council.  “Business can and should take an important role in reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We in the Métis Nation are eager to collaborate with the private sector and governments in acting on the important recommendations in this report.”

Recommendations to the federal government in the report include developing core education materials and making them available to the public and making it easier for Indigenous entrepreneurs to access affordable capital. The report also calls on businesses to publicly support government-funded projects to improve Indigenous peoples’ quality of life and to examine how they can better collaborate with Indigenous communities in the development of projects, as stated in the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

“The Canadian Chamber has made an important contribution to this critical debate for Canadians. Reconciliation is not the job of governments alone. It’s up to all of us, and that includes Canadian businesses, large and small,” said the Hon. Bob Rae, senior partner at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP.

In the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, Call to Action 92 is directed at the business community, but it is often unclear what their responsibilities are. Coming Together, Making Progress calls on the Crown to take the lead and provide clarity to all parties on what their role should be. But corporate Canada should not wait for that to happen.

“Business moves at a different pace than government and has an opportunity to make real, effectual change right now,” said Mr. Beatty. “When projects are being developed, businesses have the chance to get to know the Indigenous communities involved. We should be the champions in collaborating with these communities and provide our support and partnership. Investments in these communities are investments in the future of all Canadians.”

This report follows the Canadian Chamber’s Seizing Six Opportunities for More Clarity in the Duty to Consult and Accommodate Process, released in September 2016, which called on the federal government to bring more clarity to businesses and Indigenous peoples on the constitutional duty to consult and accommodate on proposed projects.

“The future of Indigenous Canada in all of its aspects is most important and the Canadian Chamber is to be congratulated for its initiative,” said the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, former Prime Minister and founder of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative.

“There are no easy solutions or quick fixes,” said Mr. Beatty. “Reconciliation will take time and effort. But it needs to happen and it needs to start right away. “

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. Follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

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G. Will Dubreuil
Director, Public Affairs and Media Relations
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce