TRC92: Youth Employment – Learning Session #1

As part of TRC92: Youth Employment, an initiative of the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council’s (WPRC), Learning Sessions are offered on issues related to Call to Action #92 in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC). These Learning Sessions are intended to build awareness about the TRC and Calls to Action, and to help create an environment for collaborative responses. The Learning Sessions are open to the broad private-sector employment community in Winnipeg, as well as community-based organizations.

 Carol Anne Hilton: Indigenomics

On October 19, 2017 Carol Anne Hilton spoke at the first TRC92: Youth Employment Learning Session. This event, which was held at the Winnipeg Free Press Café, was co-sponsored by the WPRC, the Manitoba office of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), and the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle.

Carol Anne is from the Nuu chah nulth Nation in British Columbia. She is CEO of Transformation International, an award-winning First Nation Social and Economic Development company and senior advisor to the Canadian Federal Economic Growth Council.

At the Learning Session, Carol Anne spoke about ‘Indigenomics’,  a theory which responds to the economic marginalization of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

What is Indigenomics?

Carol Anne describes Indigenomics as:

–   participatory and inclusive economic growth that recognizes that Canada’s economy has been built on natural resources and has displaced Indigenous people from the land.
–   the conscious claim to, and creation of spaces for the emerging knowledge, activity, and promotion of all things related to Indigenous economy.

Current Realities

In 2011 the size of the Canadian Aboriginal economy was estimated to be $16 billion. By 2016 it had doubled to $32 billion, exceeding expectations. Despite all the barriers, the Indigenous economy is outperforming Canada’s economic growth rate and Carol Anne thinks it will grow to $100 billion. She said, “Canada can almost pay attention or it can pay attention. Paying attention means paying attention to Indigenous youth, the fastest growing demographic in the country.”

Amid this economic growth, Aboriginal people continue to be overrepresented in the justice, child welfare, and other systems and to be overrepresented among the Canadians who are homeless, have diabetes, and have low levels of literacy.

Carol Anne believes that measurement should shift from the negatives to a focus on assets and successes within the Indigenous community, and that the federal government through Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC) should reallocate funding away from social deficits (currently about 95% of budget) to economic development (now about 2% of budget) and reconciliation (now about 3% of budget).

In her work at a national level, Carol Anne advocates for investment in economic development and metrics for monitoring components of reconciliation such as Indigenous youth employment.

The Essentials: Confidence and Hope

Carol Anne highlights that it is essential for young people to have confidence and to feel they have a voice and a future that holds more than a life on social assistance. For her, it was the experience of being given the opportunity for a job at age 14 in a local store, which helped her gain a sense of presence and eventually propelled her to attend University and the life she has today.

Strategies to Support Indigenomics

Carol Anne shared several examples of strategies that advance Indigenomics.

In the United States, in an organization called Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations (WEWIN), older women mentor younger women in soft skills that build confidence.

In Victoria, cross-sectoral approaches to Indigenous youth employment include a micro-lending program that helps youth start their own business. With funding and support, five youth have started businesses – food trucks, a tour company, and a beading enterprise – and become self-sufficient.

Actions to Advance Indigenomics and Reconciliation

When asked about the most important thing that non-Indigenous people and organizations can do to create change, Carol Anne offered several suggestions:

–   Work together. Creating pathways to reconciliation has to be approached in an integrated manner that creates a culture of reconciliation. Use a multi-sectoral approach that involves education and health and considers the family.
–   Break cycles of poverty for example, by working with young mothers to create strong foundations for families and communities.
–   Remove barriers to employment. Review the job prerequisites to determine whether they are really necessary. If a job can be done without a driver licence or grade twelve, remove it from the list of requirements.
–   Seek out available resources for building understanding about reconciliation. Tell the story about the things your organization is doing for reconciliation.
–   Do not wait for Indigenous people and groups to come to you. Go to them.

Carol Anne closed her talk with the following message:

Collaborative design must come from the community and create support systems for Indigenous youth entering employment. Maybe your organization can provide a scholarship or drivers training or childcare. These are all success factors that build confidence and provide access. What each organization brings to the table, builds on what others are doing to create an environment for success.

Let’s have the courage to do this together.

*Some of the attendees at the Learning Session

Carol Anne’s book ‘Indigenomics – a Global Power Shift’ will be available in early 2018.

For information about future Learning Sessions, follow WPRC on Twitter or email  to be placed on our contact list.