Today is significant day for Indigenous communities across Canada. It marks 20 years since National Aboriginal Day was officially created in 1996 by then governor general Romeo LeBlanc, stemming from consultations with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

It’s a day for celebration and commemoration of our country’s unique history and the many contributions made by Indigenous peoples. It’s also a time to bring attention to the issues and challenges that need to be addressed in the future.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement today reaffirming the Liberal government’s commitment to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, touching on the importance of reconciliation and the process of truth-telling and healing in this renewal.

Mr. Trudeau said his government “will continue the vital work of reconciliation as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.” Those Calls to Action are all significant pieces to reconciliation.

As Canadians, we can all play a part—and we don’t have to wait for government legislation in order for us to make an impact.

While National Aboriginal Day is not yet a statutory holiday (there is a Call to Action in the Commission report to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) Canadians can carve their own path to reconciliation by educating themselves and their families on the history, culture and issues facing Indigenous peoples, or better yet, participating in events happening in their local communities.

For businesses, it’s important to start building respectful relationships and true partnerships through meaningful engagement. As I discussed in my recent column in The Globe and Mail Report on Business, this may seem complex and intimidating as engagement requires a high-level of cultural understanding and competency, but with the right approach, it can be done and with positive results. It doesn’t need to be a legal requirement—it’s simply the right thing to do.

At Enterprise, we have taken steps to make Indigenous engagement one of our core practice areas—including the opening of our Six Nations office—and look forward to helping non-Indigenous businesses foster these key partnerships with Indigenous communities. (Today, our Six Nations office is closed as we celebrate the day in our community.)

Whether you’re an individual or a business, you can start playing an active role in reconciliation and today is the perfect time to start.

National Aboriginal Day is first and foremost a celebration of and for Indigenous peoples, but it’s also an opportunity for all Canadians to acknowledge the role First Nations, Inuit and Métis people played in our history and take real actions to ensure a positive future.

– Sara Monture, Indigenous Practice Lead

@sara_monture

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