When Creative Fire started its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) practice in 2021, it was an easy fit into the company’s existing services.
“We had been encouraging and supporting our clients for years in their commitments towards reconciliation,” says Leanne Hall, CEO of Creative Fire. “As an Indigenous-owned company, we knew we had the expertise to help our clients bridge that gap within their existing policies and frameworks, so they too could heed TRC’s Call to Action #92.”
“Of course, it also meant that we as a company were also responding to Call to Action #92 by setting up this practice,” adds Leanne.
For some organizations, the journey towards reconciliation can be daunting, seemingly a huge undertaking. The aim of the RAP practice is to act as a guide and support companies who are beginning this journey.
“A lot of companies are unsure where to start and cautious about taking the first steps towards reconciliation,” says Haleigh King, Manager of ESG and Sustainability and lead of the RAP practice. “This is where having advisors is so critical. The reconciliation journey is a partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and although it can be complex, it is worth the time end effort.”
Making the commitment
A RAP can signify that an organization is formalizing its commitments towards reconciliation outside of and beyond a diversity policy.
“It’s no longer enough to say you respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation,” says Haleigh. “You still need to do the work.”
It’s why organizations across Canada, and around the world, are committing to RAPs and all that they involve – including one of the most critical pillars, education. This means acknowledging past and current injustices against Indigenous peoples, but also educating corporate Canada and its employees on Indigenous cultural awareness, sensitivities and history.
RAPs also create a safe space for dialogue on the topic of reconciliation, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees.
“A lot of people who work in corporate Canada need to be able to ask questions without judgment, and need guidance around inclusive language and policies,” says Haleigh. It also speaks to the “living” nature of RAPs – they are not one-and-done initiatives that you can put up on your website. They evolve over time, as the organization evolves and the education of employees continues. There are few – if any – organizations in Canada that can claim to have finished their RAP and accomplished all they set out to do.
Holding companies accountable
“A RAP formalizes your commitments and makes these commitments clear to Indigenous communities,” says Haleigh. “You can’t go back on your word. Commitments demonstrate good will, good business sense and something you can be measured against.”
Ultimately, the RAP is about demonstrating meaningful change and pushing the boundaries of corporate Canada. It’s not simply organizations themselves that are making this commitment; they are being encouraged to embark on their own reconciliation journeys by their stakeholders, clients, investors and employees.
“Companies are increasingly being asked to demonstrate how they are addressing social and environmental concerns in communities in which they operate,” says Leanne.
“It’s no longer ‘business as usual’.”
In addition to transforming internal structures of an organization, RAPs allow for and identify key gaps in building stronger relationships between Indigenous communities and corporations that do business in those communities – a key component of Call to Action #92.
Learn. Commit. Act.
Reconciliation Action Plans.