Promoting Aboriginal inclusion

The University of Alberta is leading the way as a post-secondary institution in promoting inclusion of Aboriginal faculty, students and staff, by partnering with the Aboriginal Human Resource Council.

The U of A is the first university in Canada to join the Aboriginal Human Resource Council Leadership Circle, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing the full participation of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society.

Using its educational programs and customized training, the council will assist the U of A in developing strategies to advance inclusion in the areas of human resources, doing business with Aboriginal-owned companies, leadership and corporate social responsibility and communications and marketing, said Catherine Anley, Employment Equity Advisor for the U of A.

Through its Leadership Circle membership, the university has committed central resources to support faculties with recruiting and retaining Aboriginal faculty, students and staff.

“Having a central program complements inclusion-related initiatives and efforts that already exist through various campus communities such as the U of A’s Council on Aboriginal Initiatives, the Aboriginal Employee Network and the Aboriginal Student Services Centre,” Anley noted. Other initiatives come from the provost’s office, the registrar’s office and various academic programs offered through the faculties of Native Studies, Education, Law, Nursing and Medicine and Dentistry.

Anley first took part in a workshop offered by the Aboriginal Human Resource Council in 2009 and said it gave her new understanding of the issue of inclusion. “I learned about key historical and contemporary realities for Aboriginal people and gained some insight into the dynamics of inclusion, as well as potential barriers to recruiting and retaining Aboriginal employees,” she said.

“Now, through the Leadership Circle, the ability to bring these learning opportunities to the entire U of A community is enhanced.”

The training programs focus on awareness of Aboriginal culture and enhancing the institutional approach to inclusion. As well, AHRC will gather feedback from the university for insight into human resource trends and issues related to Aboriginal inclusion, making for a “reciprocal relationship,” Anley said.

The U of A’s commitment to its Aboriginal community members through its involvement with the Aboriginal Human Resource Council and in other ways serves everyone well, said Tracy Bear, special advisor to the provost on Aboriginal matters.

“The university provides incredible support of Aboriginal inclusion initiatives and programs, and this heightens the sharing of talents and insights that Aboriginal people bring to campus, as faculty, staff and students,” Bear said.

As a partner in the Leadership Circle, the U of A joins other members, including the Government of Alberta, the City of Edmonton, the Saskatoon Health Region and corporations such as Syncrude, IBM and Shaw Media.