As National Indigenous History Month gets underway, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is gearing up to mark the occasion.
Throughout the month of June, the NWMO will join fellow Canadians in recognizing and honouring the historic contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as in celebrating the culture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. This year’s activities build on the NWMO’s year-round commitment to working with Indigenous communities to implement Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel and walk together on a path towards Reconciliation.
“The NWMO has, since our founding, been committed to honouring the contributions of Indigenous peoples and working with them to advance Canada’s plan. Our activities throughout National Indigenous History Month are just one of the ways we strive, throughout the year, to honour our commitments to interweave Indigenous Knowledge and act on Reconciliation,” said Laurie Swami, President and CEO of the NWMO.
In July 2018, with guidance from our Council of Elders and Youth, the NWMO issued a Reconciliation Statement. One way the organization is acting on that commitment is by launching Reconciliation training for employees this month.
The NWMO partnered with Reconciliation Canada, an Indigenous-led charitable organization, to offer the first in a series of day-long workshops. The training helps connect NWMO employees with the organization’s journey towards Reconciliation and what it means to their work. The goal is to help NWMO staff understand the shared history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, explore the meaning of Reconciliation and discuss roles in a shared future.
“The NWMO has committed to inviting Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to participate in Reconciliation as we need to be on this path together. Reconciliation training represents an important initial step in acting on the words behind the NWMO’s commitment to Reconciliation,” said Jessica Perritt, Senior Advisor for Indigenous Knowledge.
“It is important that as the NWMO embarks on this journey of Reconciliation, staff understand what that means for the NWMO’s work and more importantly their individual roles,” she said. “It is just one of the many ways the NWMO is striving to honour and respect the principles of National Indigenous History Month, not just in June, but every day.”
Throughout the month of June, NWMO staff will be encouraged to learn more about Indigenous history and culture. This will include a presentation about Nibi/Indigenous Water Symbolism from Elder Fred Kelly and another presentation from Elder Roland St. Germain about Métis history and tradition. Employees will also join Canadians from across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond at the National Indigenous Peoples Day gathering in Nathan Phillips Square on June 21.
The NWMO’s commitment to Reconciliation and incorporating Indigenous Knowledge across the organization is not only focused on employees. This month, NWMO representatives will speak about the importance of Reconciliation at the annual Geoscience Seminar in Toronto. The organization will also facilitate cultural awareness training for researchers working on NWMO-related technical programs at the University of Western Ontario.
Other activities planned throughout the month of June and later this year include launching a Reconciliation video series, investing in sponsorships related to Reconciliation, offering cultural awareness training for municipalities involved in the siting process, and working towards establishing a formal Reconciliation policy.