The Agenda | Vol. 39 | Acknowledging colonialism and amplifying Indigenous voices


by the Global Impact Relations Network

JUNE 23, 2021 | THE AGENDA VOL. 39

Showing the world how impactful storytelling drives behavior

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Image: Getty Images

National Indigenous Peoples Day was an especially poignant occasion this year, in the wake of the discovery of an unmarked mass grave containing the bodies of 215 First Nations children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Though the discovery confirmed what many families already suspected, it made waves internationally, prompting necessary and uncomfortable conversations about the brutality of North America’s colonial past and present. As we come to terms with the legacy of our treatment of Indigenous peoples, we look at communications initiatives designed to educate and mobilize non-Indigenous people, while amplifying Indigenous voices.

SDGs covered In this issue:

Broaching conversations about residential schools with kids

Image: CBC

Most Gen X and Millennial parents were taught a whitewashed version of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples, if they learned much about it at all. Several of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action involve working with survivors, Aboriginal peoples and educators to develop a comprehensive Aboriginal history curriculum, including residential schools, treaties and Aboriginal contributions to Canada, for kindergarten to Grade 12 students (they are not among the 10 of 94 TRC calls to action implemented by the government to date). Award-winning Cree author David A. Robertson, whose titles include the children’s book When We Were Alone, created a reading list for parents wanting to broach the conversation about residential schools with kids of all ages. Robertson’s grandmother survived Norway House Residential School.   

CBC – 48 books by Indigenous writers to read to understand residential schools

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland: Assimilation by force happened in America, too

Image: The Atlantic

America’s first Native American cabinet minister, Deb Haaland, recently penned an Op-Ed for the Washington Post with reflections on the Kamloops discovery, including her own experience as a descendant of the U.S. boarding school system that separated Indigenous children from their families and stripped them of their language and culture. Haaland called on Americans to acknowledge painful truths about their nation’s past in order to begin to address lingering effects that reach into the present. 

Washington Post: Opinion | Deb Haaland: My grandparents were stolen from their families as children. We must learn about this history.

Spotlight: Audible Canada’s Indigenous Writers’ Circle

Amid intensifying calls for Canada’s government to accelerate reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and address harms caused by colonialism, impact relations agency Yulu PR helped launch the inaugural Audible Indigenous Writers’ Circle, a six-month mentorship and workshop program for emerging First Nations, Inuit and Métis writers designed to enhance equity and support reconciliation by elevating their voices. Fifteen authors selected from across Canada have been paired with mentors including journalist and author Tanya Talaga, novelist Richard Van Kamp, and writer, publicist and audio producer Kim Wheeler, among others.

NNSL: Mentorship opportunity for Indigenous writers

From the Impact Relations Community…

June Impact Council

Our June Impact Council will be held on Thursday, June 24 at 9am PT / 12pm EST. Please join us in conversation with Jonathan Yohannan, Senior Vice President of Integrated Communications and Bridgit Kasperski, Communications Associate Manager and architect of the Snack & Give Back project at KIND Snacks. They will share details of KIND’s efforts to drive empathy and inclusion across cities and towns during pride month and beyond. You can still register for free via Eventbrite, here.

Further Reading


Thanks for reading,

— Ashley Letts, Managing Editor


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