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Indigenous reconciliation at Rogers

We spoke to Rogers Indigenous Committee member Nicole McCormick on the importance of learning about Indigenous history.

Last week, the Rogers team came together to watch Gord Downie’s Secret Path and learn about the history of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. An emotional discussion followed, with panelists speaking from the heart about what learning about Indigenous history means to them.

We sat down with Nicole McCormick, Rogers Indigenous Peoples committee member & co-organizer of the event, on the significance of screening Secret Path, and how our partnership with the Downie-Wenjack Foundation is monumental for Indigenous reconciliation at Rogers.

1. Why is Rogers Inclusion Film Festival’s screening of Secret Path so important to you?

The screening of Secret Path is important to me because this is my chance to keep the stories of Chanie Wenjack and 150,000 other children who attended Indian Residential Schools in the hearts and minds of my Rogers colleagues. It is also an opportunity for me to thank Gord Downie for bringing Indigenous issues to light. Back in 2002, I had the privilege of meeting Gord Downie after a poetry reading he was hosting. I remember his warmth when he asked me where I come from. I told him I was First Nations. I told him my story. I will never forget his response. He looked in my eyes and told me, “I don’t know when. I don’t know how, but I will help you.” There was no way Gord or I knew, at that moment, the impact he would make raising awareness of Indian Residential Schools across Canada.

I want people to understand that reconciliation for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples is about respect, an understanding of the truth, and a commitment to change. Children were demeaned. They were made to feel ashamed of who they were, of their parents, of their people. I want us to work together so that history never repeats. We need to have those tough conversations with each other. We need to ask how we can do better. I am confident my Rogers colleagues are more aware after The Secret Path screening. I just hope they stay motivated to continue learning.

2. What’s the one thing you hope everyone took away from the event?

I hope people left the event feeling like they began to learn the truth about what happened in Residential Schools and that they can do something to support reconciliation. Often, non-Indigenous people do not know where to start because Canadians—kids, adults, everybody—are just starting to learn the difficult truth and are questioning why they weren’t told sooner. If you take the time to learn and to really understand the legacy of Residential Schools and then you teach your children, you are working with us. We will learn from each other. That is what reconciliation is. It is repairing broken relationships.

3. How is Rogers supporting the cause? What’s next?

We are making solid progress on creating a more diverse and inclusive culture here at Rogers. For Indigenous Peoples, that has meant having the full support of our Inclusion & Diversity team and our leaders, to make plans, take action and drive change that we know will have a positive impact on not only Indigenous People, but people across the company, as we raise awareness about our history, culture and issues we need to address together. A big part of this has been Rogers commitment to supporting truth and reconciliation – an essential part of driving progress for Indigenous People. We’ve connected with an amazing partner in the Downie-Wenjack Fund to help us bring this to life. We are working to create a dedicated space on campus where conversations about the past, present and future are facilitated and encouraged.