Strengthening Ties with Indigenous and Métis Organizations

March 18, 2024

As we continue to grow and learn as an organization while simultaneously integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) elements in our business practices, OECM is collaborating with Indigenous and Métis organizations to identify prospects for joint initiatives and build community-based partnerships. Through respectful discourse and outreach, we intend to strengthen our relationships with First Nations communities, enable Indigenous organizations of all sizes to drive value through collaborative procurement, and allow Indigenous-based suppliers more accessible access to our Marketplace.

The Indigenous and Métis Engagement Framework

OECM’s Indigenous and Métis Engagement Framework resembles the design and colours of a traditional Indigenous Medicine Wheel to honour the history and symbolism of Indigenous culture and to represent the four strategic pillars central to OECM’s commitment to Indigenous procurement: Indigenous Customers, Strategic Partnerships, Policy and Processes, and Training. These four elements will guide our activities and initiatives to consolidate OECM’s ties with Indigenous partners and organizations.

OECM Visits Six Nations of the Grand River

In November 2023, OECM’s Board Chair and the senior management team visited Six Nations on the Grand River, Canada’s largest First Nations reserve by population and the second-largest reserve by size. The full-day visit provided an opportunity to foster collaboration, historical and cultural dialogue, and a hearty lunch featuring local and Indigenous foods. Following a constructive day of learning and exchanging ideas, several opportunities were identified. These include future knowledge-sharing and training sessions to establish foundational training modules regarding financial and internet-based literacy for Indigenous-based suppliers and ongoing commitment to further advance relationships and trust building through follow-up engagements.

The event, held on Indigenous traditional lands, is an important and symbolic step in OECM’s pledge to cultivate lasting relationships with Indigenous communities and falls in line with Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) directive #92 that encourages the corporate sector to enhance relationships with Indigenous organizations and enable inclusion of Indigenous business in public procurements.

Partnering with the Métis Nations of Ontario (MNO)

The Métis Nations of Ontario (MNO) delivers programs and services to its citizens through key branches: Healing and Wellness; Education and Training; Housing, Lands, Resources and Consultation; and Housing and Infrastructure. OECM has been engaging with MNO to foster a reciprocal and strategic relationship and establish OECM as a trusted collaborative purchasing partner for Indigenous communities. As a result of the outreach effort, MNO has collaborated with OECM on three distinct projects, including back-to-school, printing services, and promotional products. The largest to date related to their Métis Back-To-School Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) program, which included 1,000 back-to-school kits encompassing educational tools and essentials. OECM will continue to work with MNO to support their upcoming initiatives and further strengthen relationships through shared learning and collaboration.

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