Indigenous stories key to FortisBC celebrations of National Indigenous History Month
FortisBC is finding innovative, online ways for its staff to connect with Indigenous values, cultures and contributions over National Indigenous History Month this June and celebrate National Indigenous Peoples' Day on June 21.
"We look forward to celebrating the history and culture of our Indigenous partners in June of each year, and wanted to continue to do so, despite the challenges we face during this period of physical distancing," said Roger Dall'Antonia, president and CEO, FortisBC. "It's an important part of our year-round efforts to deepen knowledge and understanding within our organization, which is essential as we work to strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities and pursue opportunities for partnerships."
In previous years, FortisBC hosted in-house events such as artists' displays and cultural presentations at its facilities across the province. With limitations on social gatherings still in place, this year FortisBC is hosting a series of virtual, interactive storytelling sessions with Indigenous leaders and community members from all over B.C. Storytelling is fundamental to many Indigenous cultures, and this is an innovative way to share traditional knowledge using modern innovations and overcome the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will enable staff to learn about the Indigenous culture in their area, as well as experience diverse cultures and perspectives from other regions.
"For us, the move to a virtual platform allows more of our staff to access opportunities for learning and in a way that reflects an Indigenous approach to sharing knowledge," said Dall'Antonia. "We're very grateful to the Indigenous community members who are generously sharing their time and entrusting us with these stories and knowledge."
Leading one of the sessions is Tracey Kim Bonneau, Manager of Arts, Culture and Adult Higher Learning from the En'owkin Center located on the Penticton Indian Reserve. She'll lead an introspective look at ECOmmunity Place, a recovery project and living classroom in the South Okanagan that provides critical habitat for more than 20 species at risk.
"We appreciate FortisBC's commitment to promoting cultural awareness within its organization and look forward to working cooperatively through this virtual dialogue session to create better understandings of our Syilx ecological values and principles," said Bonneau. "Sharing this knowledge increases appreciation for this unique, fragile ecosystem; it's also part of the work we do to engage with the wider community and to restore Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Syilx ways."
Hosting virtual storytelling sessions for employees is just one example of how organizations can continue to promote and celebrate the cultures and histories of First Nations, Métis and Inuit during National Indigenous History Month and beyond. Many Indigenous organizations are hosting virtual experiences for the public; in fact, Indigenous Tourism BC lists a number of these opportunities on their website.
FortisBC's gas and electricity infrastructure cross more than 150 traditional territories and provides service to 57 First Nation communities. Providing cultural awareness opportunities for its employees is one of the ways FortisBC works to build active and meaningful relationships with Indigenous Peoples and communities. In 2001, FortisBC adopted a formal Statement of Indigenous Principles that guides its approach to both day-to-day operations and developing effective relationships with Indigenous communities. As a CCAB Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) Committed member, FortisBC strives for continuous improvement in leadership actions, business development, employment and community relationships.