Cultural sensitivity training for non-Aboriginal people working with Aboriginal people in Canada

The article “Guidelines for entry into an Aboriginal community” reminded me that people going from Canada to work in countries in the South might receive some cultural sensitivity training to work with indigenous people. For example, apart from private consultants, the Government of Canada (Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada) has a Centre for Intercultural Learning

But I wonder how often training is provided to non-Aboriginal people working with Aboriginal people in Canada? I know there has been “race relations training” in policing in Canada, but otherwise I haven’t been aware of any specific cultural sensitivity training that would include, never mind focus on, learning about Aboriginal culture.

An Internet search quickly led me to some consultants specializing in this. One was Aboriginal Cultural Awareness (ABA) Its home page includes two short videos: one is Phil Fontaine’s endorsement of ABA; the other about historical misconceptions. ABA offers a training program with four modules: The Importance of Culture and Cultural Awareness, The Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, Canadian History from an Aboriginal Perspective, and Present and Future Challenges for Aboriginal People.

Another company is the Indigenous Corporate Training (ICT) Inc. at Following the link to Testimonials gives one a view of the range of clients. They have included people from federal, provincial and local levels of government as well as numerous companies in the natural resource sector (Utility, Mining, Forest and Gas).

These seem to be reputable, successful companies. I wonder if such training programs make a significant difference in improving understanding and relationships? I guess I could find out – for $400 I could attend a one day ICT workshop “Working Effectively with Aboriginal Peoples™” in March in Toronto!!! But then, for considerably less, I could just take an online program, or order resources.

Kowalsky, Laura O., Verhoef, Maria J.; Thurston, Wilfreda E.; Rutherford, Gayle E. (1996). Guidelines for entry into an Aboriginal community in The Canadian Journal of Native Studies XVI, 2, 267-282.

1 comment

1 mcs1 { 11.07.10 at 7:08 am }

This post has some really interesting resources. You raise some really interesting questions especially whether I should be paying $400 for this! It seems there’s so much attention paid to giving students who are going on international exchange programs or instructors who are working with international students resources for understanding cultural differences but in my experience there has been very little effort made to at least publicly announce program such as this. Maybe all Canadians should be taking such courses?

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