Lessons Learned – Inclusion of First Nations Communities in the Lower Vancouver Island Workforce Labour Market Partnership (LMP) Project

A number of insights and ‘lessons learned’ were provided by those engaged in the Project from August 2020 through August 2021.  The following lessons learned reflect the perspectives of the numerous HR professionals and First Nations and business community representatives who participated in project activities and provided advice to Harbour Digital Media (HDM).

  • Importance of Mechanisms for Sustained Relationship BuildingAs has been found in other LMP projects involving First Nations leaders and communities, building relationships and trust is essential to working collaboratively.  A critical element of this relationship building is meeting with First Nations leaders and members on their land.  As a result of the COVID-19 health crisis this was not possible.  HDM and its partners were, however, able to continue to work toward building strong relationships even though all meetings were conducted virtually.  All parties learned how to effectively use the virtual meeting platform approach.  To move forward, however, will require taking what has been learned and engaging First Nations communities using more direct face-to-face approaches.  Having used a virtual approach throughout the project, HDM and its partners are well positioned to apply the technology in appropriate ways in the future.
  • Importance of Personal Learning and Reflection – A number of the Steering Committee members and participants used the experience gained from the regular HR meetings, the thought leader forum and job fairs to expand their own personal understanding of First Nations cultures and ways of working and knowing.  This personal learning has been transferred by some of the HR professionals into actions that they have taken in their workplaces to make them more inclusive and welcoming.  This is a critical step in helping to overcome some of the systemic barriers faced by First Nations members when they are seeking employment in the lower Vancouver Island region. 
  • Challenges Concerning Measuring Success – Measuring success in projects such as the current LMP project is difficult.  It can be said, however, that the project has been successful on a number of levels.  It has built trust and relationships between HR professionals and First Nations leaders that have led to attempts to hire First Nations members and modify some of the internal hiring processes that companies use so that they are more inclusive.  As a result it is important to recognize that in the early days of working with First Nations a number of different success measures should be considered beyond the ultimate metric of the number of workers hired by a company or sector. 
  • Importance of Building Bridges to Employment – The job fair activities stressed the importance of having an individual or individuals of indigenous heritage who can act as a bridge between First Nations communities and local businesses and organizations that are seeking to hire workers.  This ‘trusted’ individual is able to act as a coach/mentor and advocate for First Nations individuals who may not be prepared to put themselves forward in traditional job interview and hiring processes.