It’s been seven years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its Final Report and 92 Calls to Action, and yet businesses are still navigating their responsibilities to ensure that their actions are meaningful and not simply symbolic.

There is no one way to navigate the landscape of reconciliation as an individual, let alone as a business, but it’s important to learn and take action.

The Call to Action 92 in the TRC’s Final Report directly addresses the business community, and calls for “the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources”. 

But how can this framework be put into action when it comes to corporate marketing?

Here are some simplified do’s and don’ts for corporate marketing in regards to reconciliation, as well as when it comes to respecting the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30th):


The Do’s of Corporate Marketing

Educate Your Team: Ensure that your team is well-informed about the history and significance of the day. Offer educational resources, workshops and training to foster a deeper understanding of Indigenous issues and the impacts of colonisation.

Listen and Learn: Engage with Indigenous communities and leaders to gain insights into their perspectives and needs. Listening to their voices is crucial in crafting a respectful and culturally sensitive approach.

Use Your Platform for Education: Use your corporate platform to raise awareness about the history of residential schools, their lasting effects and the ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities. Share informative content that helps educate your audience.

Support Indigenous Initiatives: Collaborate with Indigenous organisations and businesses to amplify their voices and promote their products or services. This can include financial support, partnerships or sponsorships that align with their goals.

Show Respect and Solidarity: On significant days like the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, express your respect and solidarity with Indigenous communities through thoughtful and sincere messages. Encourage your audience to do the same.

Continue to Work Towards Reconciliation: Reconciliation isn’t seasonal, and requires continued efforts from your business and the community around you to have real impact. Respect dates like the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, but recognize that a single day of action is not enough.


The Don’ts of Corporate Marketing

Avoid Commercialization: Refrain from using National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an opportunity for profit or commercial gain. Exploiting this day for sales or marketing promotions is inappropriate and disrespectful.

No Performative Actions: Empty gestures or tokenistic actions can do more harm than good. Avoid performative actions that lack substance, as they can undermine the credibility of your commitment to reconciliation.

Don’t Speak for Indigenous People: While it’s important to support Indigenous voices, avoid speaking on behalf of Indigenous communities. Allow them to share their own stories and perspectives.

Steer Clear of Cultural Appropriation: Be cautious about using Indigenous symbols, art or practices in your marketing without permission. Cultural appropriation is disrespectful and can perpetuate harm.

Don’t Overlook Ongoing Issues: Remember that reconciliation is an ongoing process. Don’t limit your engagement to just one day. Continue to address Indigenous issues, support Indigenous causes and promote understanding throughout the year.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation serves as a poignant reminder of the need for corporate responsibility in reconciliation efforts. By following these do’s and don’ts of corporate marketing, as well as working to advance the Call to Action 92 in other areas of your business, brands can contribute positively and help foster a more just society for all.