Winnipeg Indigenous Accord: Where we’ve been and where we’re headed



Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day: “a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

It’s also been a year (almost to the day!) since Payworks first signed Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord (WIA), which is “a tool in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous Winnipeggers can come together and explore reconciliation.”

On this special day of recognition, we’re taking a look back at Payworks’ WIA goals over the past year, how we worked to meet them, and the goals we’ve set for the year ahead.

Where we’ve been

For our first year under the WIA, our goals were three-fold:

  1. To encourage and support learning experiences related to the history of Indigenous peoples (Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #92).
  2. To collaborate with Indigenous Knowledge Keepers on land acknowledgements across all our locations (Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #92, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Call for Justice #15).
  3. To increase our collective knowledge of report recommendations and provide time and space for discussion that will inform our actions moving forward (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Call for Justice #15).

Over the course of the past year, Payworks has been honoured to have partnered with several community leaders to bring immersive opportunities for learning and connection to our staff.

Almost 70 members of our team attended virtual National Indigenous History Month education sessions hosted by Indigenous Treaty Partners. These 45-minute sessions focused on sharing knowledge and insight into what it means to be Indigenous in Canada and how to act as an ally to our Indigenous neighbours, with the intention of meeting each participant where they are in their journey of reconciliation.

Payworks also welcomed Franco-Manitobaines Métis business Prairie Owl Beads for a virtual, 60-minute beading workshop, where over 20 Payworks staff enjoyed learning about and participating in Métis beadwork during the week of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Seventy-five Payworks employees participated in a series of two workshops built upon Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 92: “Inspiring Empathy and Action.” These 90-minute empathy workshops, run by the Community of Big Hearts, engaged our team through a combination of stories direct from community elders, historical information that went much deeper than what many of our team members knew beforehand, and resource recommendations to continue their personal journey towards education and Truth and Reconciliation.

Over 40 staff at our Winnipeg head office took part in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ tour on Rights and Indigenous People in Canada. This impactful tour and conversation taught our team how Indigenous rights and ways of knowing and being have been disrupted through colonization and genocide.

And at our Toronto office, over 40 staff participated in a unique event with Chef Shawn Adler, an Anishinaabe chef, entrepreneur and content creator. “Chef Shawn” not only shared information on foraging, harvesting and his culture; he also shared a delicious home-cooked meal incorporating local, traditional ingredients and flavours, much to the delight of the Payworks employees in attendance!

We’ve also integrated opportunities for learning and reflection on these important issues into everyday life at Payworks. Land acknowledgement guidelines have been developed and integrated into the regular cadence of work life at our locations from coast to coast.

We also share information on a regular basis via Payworks’ corporate intranet. With topics ranging from National Indigenous Peoples Day to the national and provincial days of awareness on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirited Peoples (MMIWG2S) to Indigenous cuisine, local history and more, we are actively keeping our goals within the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.

Where we’re headed

We’ve spent the past few weeks engaging in education and celebration in recognition of National Indigenous History Month, and look forward to continue moving towards the WIA goals we’ve set for the year ahead.

Payworks is committed to:

  1. Further encouraging and supporting learning experiences related to Indigenous Peoples for all of our employees across Canada, including understanding the history, developing relationships, completing anti-racism training, and taking steps towards reconciliation.
  2. Increasing our collective knowledge of the MMIWG Calls for Justice and final report recommendations, and providing time and space for discussion that will inform our actions moving forward.

“What we’ve learned - or more accurately, seen reinforced - over the past year under the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord is that our staff is eager to learn and to use their new understanding to create a positive impact,” says Mike Penman, Payworks Chief Operating Officer. “Their enthusiasm to participate and willingness to engage in challenging conversations and self-reflection has been inspiring. Payworks will continue to offer opportunities that move us closer to our WIA goals and to answer these calls to action and justice.”

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