Casting a stone in the water : an exploration of truth and reconciliation in the context of a public utility
Paquin, Michelle Suzanne
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My partner organization for my research was FortisBC (FEI), a public energy utility in British Columbia. My purpose in exploring truth and reconciliation in my organization was to examine how the organization could respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 92nd Call to Action, which addressed Canadian businesses and corporations. In particular, I focused on the section that highlighted the need to build mutually respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples. In chapter one, I provide context for how I arrived at my primary research question and sub-questions: “How can FEI employees take action to build respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia?” My sub-questions are: what can FEI employees do to learn how the organization can become a more welcoming place for Indigenous peoples. Moreover, how can FEI change its business practices to better support Indigenous communities’ goals, as framed by Indigenous communities? Finally, I intended to encourage other non-Indigenous FEI employees to learn more about colonization and our collective responsibility in the truth and reconciliation process. Additionally, I hope that non-Indigenous peoples will be curious about Indigenous traditional governance, knowledge, and ways of knowing. In chapter two, I review literature from Indigenous scholars to answer my question: which actions can FEI employees take to build respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia? I explore two main themes through literature (a) relationships and (b) relational accountability in the context of truth and reconciliation. I also explore a number of subthemes, including Indigenous worldviews, settler-colonial relations, gender and colonization, reconciliation, Indigenous resurgence, and the responsibility of settlers in the truth and reconciliation process. Chapter three provides an overview of action research and speaks to how Indigenous research methodologies inspired my research process. Further, in chapter three, I provide insights into social constructionism and my overarching methodology, including study design, data collection methods, participants, data analysis, and trustworthy measures. In chapter four, I share my findings, conclusions, and limitations to my study. The themes represented in chapter four speak to the need for settlers to unlearn and re-learn Canadian history. Further, I discuss how non-Indigenous FEI employees should understand the ongoing impacts of colonization before engaging with Indigenous communities. At the same time, they should be open to learning about the value of Indigenous governance and ways of knowing. In chapter four, I explore the themes shared by research participants, including trust, transparency, and open communications as crucial steps for non- Indigenous peoples who seek respectful relationship building with Indigenous peoples. Finally, in chapter five, I include the organizational implications of my research, study recommendations, and implications for future study. My study recommendations reflect the importance of ongoing learning, change, and growth for FEI employees, including seeking Indigenous input on all matters related to business and operations. The intention of my recommendations is to be woven into corporate policy as to result in cultural transformation. Finally, in chapter five, I speak to how FEI can support future inquiry by examining corporate priorities and localized engagement with Indigenous peoples through a systems lens. The organizational change could be supported by exploring ways Indigenous governance and ways of knowing can inform how FEI employees build mutually respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples.