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Indigenous awareness training an impactful experience for City employees

Training a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #57

August 9, 2019

The training only lasts a few hours however it has made a significant impact on the City of Winnipeg workforce.

In 2016, during the Year of Reconciliation, Mayor Brian Bowman pledged to have mandatory Indigenous Awareness training in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #57.

“It has been truly eye opening,” said Kelly Shields, Director of the Assessment & Taxation Department and City Solicitor.

Shields is one of thousands of civic employees who have taken the training, which is offered in two formats.

There is a half-day course for employees without direct reports. Called W’daeb Awaewe, Ojibway for ‘The Truth As We Know It’, this course provides an introduction to an Indigenous world view and insight into the Residential School system with a Winnipeg focus.

Leaders with direct reports are required to take a two-day training course called Chi Ki Ken Da Mun, Ojibway for 'So You Should Know’. This course includes topics such as Indigenous History and Timelines, Residential School Impacts and Legacy, Traditional and Contemporary Role of Indigenous Women and Indigenous World View of Culture, Ceremonies and Medicines.

“This training has helped bus operators be more accepting and receptive with the people they are interacting with every day,” said Shannon Kennedy, Operations Supervisor with Winnipeg Transit.

The courses are all taught by Indigenous cultural providers, including community elders, and will continue to be taken by all new employees.

“The perspective of many City employees has changed through this training,” said Rhonda Forgues, Manager of the Indigenous Relations Division. “Having all employees take part in the teachings is a valuable part of Winnipeg’s Journey of Reconciliation.”