Knowledge is key, says Gerald Cunningham
A local Metis leader is giving top marks to the provincial government for taking steps to train all employees in the Indigenous culture.
“Knowledge is the bridge to understanding and, in the Government of Alberta’s announcement, they have taken an important step forward in creating greater understanding of Indigenous culture and issues within the public service,” says Metis Settlements General Council president Gerald Cunningham, of East Prairie Metis Settlement.
“It is the hope of the Metis Settlements that the sum of many steps like these will lead to meaningful reconciliation in Alberta, and we were pleased to be consulted on this initiative,” he says in a news release June 18.
New Indigenous training will help Alberta public servants better deliver programs and services to the Indigenous community.
As the government moves forward on the path to reconciliation, all current Alberta Public Service employees will participate in an in-person, one-day course in the next three years.
The session will involve experiential learning with Elders through sharing circles. Participants will learn about Indigenous histories, residential schools, treaties and contemporary issues, and how they can apply what they learn to their work.
“Learning about historical and contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit experiences and perspectives is essential to building relationships, strengthening partnerships and better understanding and serving Indigenous peoples in the province,” Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan says.
Training is a step in the Alberta government’s work to implement the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It addresses one of the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.