The Community Futures Treaty Seven organization provides training, employment and business development opportunities for Treaty 7 First Nations individuals, on and off reserve, including persons with a disability. Community Futures Treaty Seven continues to prioritize disability in their labour market programs and business advisory services.
Each year, Community Futures Treaty Seven hosts a summit and job fair that connects job seekers, employers, employment service agencies and supporters. Featured speakers raise awareness to improve understanding of the many limitations imposed by attitudes and stereotypes on the employment and economic opportunities of First Nations individuals.
Johnathon Red Gun is the Disability Employment Coordinator at Community Futures Treaty Seven. He has facilitated several workshops in the wellness stream, specifically, to those who are impacted by the Residential School legacy, and its intergenerational trauma. He now continues to use his wellness training, social work and judicial background to advocate for First Nations persons with a disability.
Here is an excerpt from his opening remarks on April 30, 2019 from the Community Futures Treaty Seven Disability Employment Summit and Job Fair.
Sharing for Success….Stronger Together
"I would like to welcome you all to Treaty Seven territory.
In 13 years, I have been traveling within our Treaty Seven communities, on and off reserve, in the capacity building and community development initiatives, and developing relationships with employers. Community Futures Treaty Seven has an important role in helping workplaces to take diversity and inclusion in the workplace seriously. The question for all of us is - how do we support and prioritize the inclusion of our people in the workforce?
Workforce diversity initiatives don’t often live up to the high hopes of those who try to champion diversity. This is for a simple yet very important reason. Companies define workforce diversity as "having X number of people from Race Y or gender Z" while forgetting that diversity only works if we understand and support inclusion.
Too often in the corporate world, diversity is about counting people. Inclusion, however, is about making people count.
People with disabilities are unfortunately viewed by companies – and even sometimes by policy makers – as the people who are ‘least likely to succeed.’ This is ironic in that people with disabilities are often excellent problem solvers and have been shown to have higher rates of job retention and safety than non-disabled employees.
Our Career Centres have a role to play in teaching business and helping to dispel the myths and misconceptions about our people. Education is a big part of our work and we must help these businesses to tap into the First Nations workforce.
It is my strong belief that our people want to work. Helping people to have valued roles in the workforce – and to feed their families is work that matters. What is it that is preventing our people from working? Community Futures Treaty Seven knows some of the reasons behind this and it is why Community Futures Treaty Seven have invited each of you to participate in this dialogue so we can push towards positive change.
It is equally important Community Futures Treaty Seven and our Treaty Seven First Nations collaborate with each other and with the mainstream agencies who care about and support diversity and inclusion. We have much to offer each other and for too long there has been a disconnect."
Faced with a history that has fostered stereotypes, First Nations People face multiple barriers that include disabilities because of a lack of understanding and knowledge. Community Futures offices across Alberta serve First Nations and Indigenous entrepreneurs with loans, business training and coaching. Many of our locations also offer small business supports through our Entrepreneurs with Disabilities program.