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Building A People First Company
Author: Anita Pawluk, President.

In 2019, at a crossroad in my career I took the “Focus on Self” course which provides an opportunity for leaders to reflect on their own life story, philosophy of leadership and future direction. It enables leaders to gain clarity on the stories they would like to create in the world by exploring three areas of personal life and leadership: the past, present and future.  

After completing the course, I was left with more questions than answers…

What impact do I wish to have in the world? What is my life purpose?

During this time my 80-year-old mother and I started a learning journey to reclaim our Métis heritage, this opened the path to learn about Indigenous ways of knowing, values, and beliefs. 

To have a deeper understanding of my past, present and what I wanted the future to look like I registered for RavenSPEAK with the Raven Institute. A 6 month mastery program for Indigenous people to find their voice, and share their unique story with the world in an 11 minute talk. There was no grading system, no check list and no right or wrong. By trusting the process we would all end up exactly where we are supposed to be. When you complete the course you are left with a knowing (feeling) you are on the right path.  

WOW this was a stretch for a girl who grew up in a colonized family, community, and country. The more uncomfortable I got the deeper awareness I gained on what I have passion for, and this helped me to align my personal life and leadership style with my life purpose.

Reclaiming my Métis heritage is a lifelong journey to learn about the vast variety of knowledge that exists across diverse Indigenous communities. It will help as a leader to have an open mindset to understand how to make decisions that are centered around values that positively impact future generations and make choices that are in the best interest of the collective. 

This journey has helped me understand that my life purpose is to create a people first company built on connection and relationship, that embraces diversity and inclusion to drive innovation and business performance while creating equal opportunities in the Tech industry for Indigenous Peoples.

How will we do this?

In 2019 RaceRocks became a certified Indigenous business and we are transitioning to an Indigenous Tech Company. We do not use the word transitioning lightly, this is a journey that will continue to evolve throughout the life of RaceRocks to create a company culture where all voices are heard and supported.   

How would we know what good looks-like?

RaceRocks chose to enter into the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Relations (CCAB) Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program (PAR) at the committed level to have a framework of what good looks-like for creating a company culture that is diverse and inclusive of Indigenous values and beliefs and guides us in building positive and sustainable relations with Indigenous communities.

Our PAR Journey begins…

In May 2020 we had our first meeting with CCAB’s PAR Team, and we flushed out the deliverables due in the first year of the program.  

The first deliverable is a Letter of Commitment signed by the company’s Leadership Team and this is where we encountered our first hurdle, what did it mean individually to each of us on the Leadership Team to commit to embracing a company culture that was centered around the 4 PAR Drivers – Leadership Actions, Employment, Business Development and Community Relations.  

To help us identify the areas we individually and collectively needed to focus on we hired an outside consultant with a background in Aboriginal Culture; over three months the consultant worked with the Leadership Team and our Operation Leads to create a gap analysis on how far off track we were from meeting the PAR criteria and the first steps we needed to take to write a Letter of Commitment we could all live and breathe. 

We received the report from the consultant at the end of July 2020. The results indicated we had a lot of work to do, individually and as a team. The truth is this is NOT an easy undertaking and there is NOT a checklist to follow!

I can honestly tell you there were personal and team moments that were so overwhelming we considered cancelling the PAR Program in the fear of causing more harm than good. 

At the same time, we were in the middle of Strategic Planning for 2021, the pandemic added complexity to the stargazing sessions that lasted 6 months compared to previous years where the planning was completed in two months. During our final review of the 2021 Strategic Plan together as a team we had a very exciting moment when we could see the alignment between our Purpose, Core Values, Brand Promise, BHAG and the 4 PAR Drivers.  

We proudly signed our Letter of Commitment on January 18, 2021. Our journey begins to become a People First Company where the culture is diverse and inclusive of Indigenous values and beliefs. We know we will make mistakes; we will hold ourselves accountable and we will learn from our mistakes, this is a journey that will continue to evolve throughout the life of RaceRocks.

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