Business and Reconciliation: How can investors evaluate the efforts of public companies?

This discussion paper has been prepared as part of an ongoing project on Investment and Reconciliation with the support of the Edmonton Community Foundation, Inspirit Foundation, the McConnell Family Foundation, and Vancity Community Foundation.

Locating business and investors in reconciliation

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) issued its final report on the legacy of Canadian residential schools, which affected generations of Indigenous peoples in Canada and their relationships with non-Indigenous Canadians. The TRC report provides a roadmap for a reconciliation process aimed at building better relationships between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Through its report, the TRC issued 94 specific Calls to Action targeting all parts of Canadian society, from governments to educators, from sports organizations to the corporate sector.

Although the corporate sector is not a direct party to Treaty and land-claims agreement negotiations, industry and business play an extremely significant role in how the economic, social, and cultural aspects of reconciliation are addressed, including the extent to which opportunities and benefits are truly shared with Indigenous peoples and the environment of traditional homelands is safeguarded.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report

In response to the TRC Calls to Action, individuals and organizations in all areas of Canadian society have reflected on their own activities and committed to participate in reconciliation in their lives and work. A community of more than 75 Canadian philanthropic and community foundations came together through the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples to sign a Declaration of Action setting out their pledge to demonstrate leadership on reconciliation by harnessing their voices, networks, projects and resources in support of the TRC Calls to Action.3 Some of these foundations are supporting the Calls to Action by exercising their leverage as institutional investors. They are using their position as shareholders to engage with the companies in which they invest about implementing Call to Action 92, which speaks to business and reconciliation.

This discussion paper contributes to that process by reviewing the public disclosures of 173 TSX listed Canadian companies in eight sector indices to benchmark their current reporting around their relations with Indigenous peoples and the substance of Call to Action 92. We hope to spark further conversation about the policies, practices and disclosure that institutional investors, Indigenous peoples and all Canadians can and should expect from Canadian companies.

 

Focus Areas