ICSC@Cenovus: Supporting Indigenous employees through cultural recognition and allyship
September 2022 – In Canada, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day coincides with Orange Shirt Day and commemorates the tragic history and ongoing impacts of residential schools. At Cenovus Energy, we recognize our responsibility to support reconciliation and understand an important part is learning about the past and the culture of Indigenous Peoples. One of the ways we support our Indigenous staff and improve cultural understanding is through the Indigenous Community Sharing Circle (ICSC), one of our five employee inclusion and diversity networks.
Since its inception in 2013, the ICSC has created a supportive environment where First Nations, Inuit, Métis and ally employees can gather, engage and be empowered to achieve personal, career and community goals.
“We currently have almost 300 members and are growing,” says Corinne Paul, Specialist, Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Health and Chair of the ICSC. “Our group honours and recognizes Indigenous traditions, while raising awareness of Indigenous issues through information sessions and events held throughout the year.”
This month, the group is hosting in-person and virtual Kairos Blanket Exercises for staff across the company. Blankets are used to represent the land as participants step into the roles of Indigenous Peoples, responding to cues in a script as they walk through the journey of pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization, resistance and more. Participants also read out relevant information and quotes that fit with the timeline. Some groups have even created their own customized blankets to represent their team, which will be used in the exercise.
“The goal of the blanket exercise is to foster respect and reconciliation by giving staff a first-hand look at Canadian history from an Indigenous perspective,” says Corinne. “Our hope is that by giving staff a chance to see history through the eyes of Indigenous Peoples, it will help create empathetic and informed allies.”
Other ICSC events this year included an information session on May 5, the National Day of Awareness and Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People, as well as a celebration on June 21 for National Indigenous Peoples Day.
Beyond awareness events, the ICSC is making an impact by providing resources and inclusive spaces for staff across our operations. In several of our field locations, the ICSC has contributed material related to Indigenous history and culture to our resource libraries. The network has also established a special space in our Calgary head office where people can access resources, gather and talk freely about Indigenous issues.
“Reconciliation requires that we open ourselves to learning about other people and cultures,” says Corinne. “The ICSC allows us all to bring our unique backgrounds to the table and learn from each other, building renewed relationships based on rights, respect and partnership.”
Our inclusion and diversity networks are intended to help foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. These networks are open to all staff and aim to provide peer support, increase awareness of key topics, trends and issues and influence Cenovus’s practices and programs to enhance the experience of all staff. Learn more.