Authors: Janet Lane and Sarah Pittman

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Workforce Forward: Indigenous Employment and Inclusion follows the successful Forward Summit Conference in Calgary in early 2019. That event provided three days of information and networking about the importance of, and ways to begin, economic reconciliation for Indigenous people. Read our report from this conference here.

Workforce Forward, held October 16, 2019, was organized by the Connect Group in association with Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) Alberta. Attendance at the conference earned professional development credits for CPHR members.

This report is an attempt to bring the comments made by the panelists and presenters in each session into a cohesive whole. The report is not a transcription of exactly what was said, but rather a pulling together of what the authors heard and took away from the sessions. We have not attributed comments or quotes. The report is organized by individual session, and a list of key takeaways is offered as a conclusion.

Most of the 26 panelists and presenters at Workforce Forward were Indigenous people, who brought their lived experience and insights gained from their work in Indigenous communities and in other settings to the conference participants. The 250 participants, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, came from across Canada, with a few from the U.S.

A pre-conference session – the Kairos Blanket Exercise – was held on the afternoon of October 15.

Kairos Blanket Exercise: Reconciliation through Education and Understanding

The KAIROS Blanket Exercise program is a unique, participatory history lesson – developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and educators – that fosters truth, understanding, respect and reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. (

Even for people who have already learned some of the history of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, this exercise offers an opportunity to bring the lived experience of Indigenous peoples to life and to feel, for a moment and in a small way, the impact of this history.

As one participant put it, “I thought of my kids …. I can’t unlearn this.”

Read the full report in the PDF below.