Indigenous Discrimination

First published on Friday, Jan 13, 2023

Last updated on Friday, Jan 13, 2023

It’s an employer’s duty to foster inclusion in the workplace and prevent discrimination. This is especially important when hiring Indigenous workers due to the historical impact the community has had in Canada.

Creating an inclusive environment principles is essential when retaining Indigenous workers and preventing discrimination against Indigenous people in the workplace.

In this guide, we’ll explain what Indigenous discrimination is, examples of it in the workplace, and how to prevent it.

Who are the Indigenous People?

There are three recognized groups of Indigenous people in Canada.

The most common group of Indigenous people are the First Nations. The First Nations are a diverse group of Indigenous people across Canada. This community does not identify as one of the other two groups, Inuit and Métis. The First Nations most often live on reservations or in major towns and cities.

The second group called the Inuit are Indigenous people who live in northern territories of Canada. They also live in Arctic regions of certain provinces such as northern Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Manitoba.

The last group, called the Métis, are descendants from Indigenous and European ancestry. Métis self-identify with the distinct Métis culture and ancestry and are accepted by the Métis Nation.

What is Indigenous Discrimination?

Indigenous discrimination is when an individual or group is treated differently because of their Indigenous background. Discrimination towards Indigenous people often falls under the following protected grounds listed in the applicable human rights legislation:

  • Ancestry.
  • Citizenship.
  • Colour.
  • Creed (including Indigenous spiritual practices).
  • Race.
  • Ethnic origin.
  • Place of origin.

How are Indigenous Discriminated in Canada?

Historically, the Indigenous people of Canada have been racially and culturally segregated. This was done through the use of reservations, residential schools, and other harmful programs that were in place during the colonization of Canada.

There are a number of negative stereotypes associated with Indigenous people. Including assumptions about the cause of alcohol and drug addiction, unemployment, and violence.

It is important that employers are aware of the historical segregation and colonization that has negatively impacted Indigenous communities across Canada.

The Effects of Discrimination Against Indigenous People in the Workplace

Indigenous people are often underrepresented or isolated in the workplace. This is because of the lack of understanding of Indigenous people in upper management.

Moreover, Indigenous people in the workplace are often surrounded by co-workers and managers that are unaware of the history of Indigenous people.

This can lead to many Indigenous people feeling less accepted by others. This can make it difficult for them to build relationships with their co-workers and managers. Indigenous people may also feel:

  • Less of a sense of belonging.
  • Less valued than other co-workers.
  • Less likely to speak up about concerns.

Understanding Indigenous people in the workplace and their history is important for employers to build a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

Is Indigenous Discrimination Federally or Provincially Regulated?

Indigenous discrimination in Canada is protected under human rights legislation.

Each province has their own established human rights legislation. For example, human rights protections for provincially regulated employees in Ontario are provided under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Other provinces include:

  • Human Rights Code of British Columbia.
  • Alberta Human Rights Act.
  • The Human Rights Code of Manitoba.
  • The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
  • New Brunswick Human Rights Act.
  • Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.
  • Newfoundland & Labrador Human Rights Act.

The Canadian Human Rights Act provides human rights protection from discrimination for federally regulated employees. Some examples of federally regulated workplaces are certain First Nation bands or governments, air transportation, and railway services.

There is a general misconception that Indigenous people are only protected under federal jurisdiction. However, the Courts have determined that employment matters are provincially regulated. Unless the company has an inherent functional nature that is Indigenous-focused and located on native reservations.

How to Prevent Discrimination of Indigenous People

Creating a working environment that embraces inclusive principles is the foundation to retaining Indigenous workers. To help create an inclusive environment for Indigenous workers you should:

  • Research Indigenous people workplace programs: Implement workplace strategies to help your existing workforce learn how to be inclusive for all staff. There are many existing programs that you can use. You do not have to invent new ways to implement workplace programs.
  • Educate your workforce: It is important that you are educating your workforce about Indigenous people and the discrimination against Indigenous peoples in Canada.
  • Provide Indigenous awareness: There is much that people do not know about Indigenous people in Canada. You can implement Indigenous awareness training into your workforce to help staff better understand the importance of Indigenous communities in Canada. Awareness training such as everyday customs of Indigenous people can help your workforce build a better sense of awareness, respect, and appreciation for the community.
  • Foster inclusion: The first step to fostering inclusion in your workplace is to make room for building knowledge about Indigenous people. After, apply that knowledge to the workplace by creating an inclusive space sensitive to issues impacting Indigenous communities, such as residential schools.

Get Advice on Indigenous Discrimination with BrightHR

It is important to remember the history of Indigenous people in Canada. It’s also important that all non-Indigenous Canadians know that they have a role to play in the reconciliation process. It is your responsibility as an employer to foster inclusion for all your employees to prevent discrimination in your workplace.

If you need assistance with establishing policies regarding Indigenous inclusion in the workplace, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.

Contact us on 18882204924 or book a demo today.

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