By Katie Wheatley and Mark Sevestre, Reconciliation and Resposible Investment Initiative
Across Turtle Island, we have witnessed a renewed outpouring of grief and outrage in recent months, as the uncovering of thousands of unmarked children’s graves have served as horrific reminders of Canada’s long legacy of colonialism and assimilation, including the residential school system.
The inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, which will be marked on September 30, 2021, is an important occasion to learn about the atrocities committed against First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. It is also a moment to educate ourselves on Indigenous rights, including Aboriginal and Treaty rights, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is now being harmonized with Canadian laws through Bill C-15. This is why on Sept. 30, our offices will be closed to the public to make space for an internal learning and reflection period, where we will come together to listen to Indigenous voices and perspectives, discuss how we can continue to better show up for reconciliation, and make space for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC)diverse Calls to Action.
However, we also understand that education alone is not enough. Action is needed from us all to advance reconciliation and uphold Indigenous rights.
In the wake of the TRC’s Final Report and Calls to Action, SHARE and the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA) founded the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative (RRII). RRII was established to support investor action on reconciliation, uniting Indigenous and non-Indigenous investors to use their voices and capital to uphold Indigenous rights, promote positive economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples, and centre Indigenous perspectives in investment decision-making.
RRII has developed resources for non-Indigenous investors on advancing reconciliation across their portfolios, and for Indigenous investors on embedding community values and priorities into the governance of their investments. We have also researched public companies’ responses to TRC Call to Action #92, directed at corporate Canada. We request that investors, partners, and service providers in our network take time to review these resources, and to make space for deeper conversations about embedding reconciliation into your practices and overarching infrastructure.
One way to jumpstart progress is to raise reconciliation with asset managers at an upcoming meeting. Here are a few discussion questions you might consider posing:
- “Do our proxy voting guidelines incorporate considerations related to Indigenous peoples, such as respect for Indigenous rights?”
- “Does your firm have policies to foster opportunities for Indigenous people through scholarships, training, hiring, advancement, and procurement within your organization?”
- “How do Indigenous rights factor into your investment analysis? Can you tell us about a time you recently changed the valuation of an investee company due to considerations related to Indigenous peoples?”
Investors’ reconciliation journey can start by simply putting it on the agenda for discussion with asset managers. Raising reconciliation with asset managers communicates that investors expect concrete action, spurring momentum in the investment industry.
As we mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we invite you to join us in moving from education to action in community together.
Related resources from RRII:
- (2019). Advancing Reconciliation: A Guide for Investors.
- (2021). Business and Reconciliation: An Update Exploring the Performance of Public Companies in Canada.
- (2021). All Hands on Deck: Opportunities for Investment Management Firms to Advance Reconciliation.
General educational resources:
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). What We Have Learned: Principles of Truth and Reconciliation.