What is the role of an ally?
On the heels of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it is important to think about what it means to be an ally. We all know the word and hear it being used a lot especially close to dates like September 30, but do we ever reflect on the true meaning and role of an ally in reconciliation?
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada defines reconciliation as “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. For that to happen, there must be awareness of the past, an acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.” .
Therefore, for non-Indigenous people the continuous and conscious acts of reflecting, (un)learning, respect, fulfillment of human rights, and building reciprocal relationships with Indigenous Peoples can be considered key for being an ally.
Experts define being an ally as “the reconciliation of historical and contemporary wrongdoings and the rectification of the inequitable colonial systems” . In other words, being an ally is a verb; it requires reflection and action and shouldn’t be used as a tokenistic noun.
In addition, the term “Ally” is not one that non-Indigenous people can claim for themselves. While individuals can work towards being an ally, it’s up to the Indigenous communities they are building relationships with to designate them as such .
Therefore, the journey to reconciliation and becoming an ally involves a continuous practice of accountability and solidarity grounded in relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Within this relationship, it is important to understand the historical and ongoing injustices and traumas faced by Indigenous Peoples.
As a child rights organization, we believe in the equal rights of all children everywhere. We know that in Canada, Indigenous children are the most deprived of their rights, historically and presently. The National Reconciliation Program (NRP) at Save the Children strives to works in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, to remains committed to understanding the truth of what is now known as Canada, to reconciliation, and to making it a priority to continuously learn and un-learn while working with Indigenous partners and communities.
To that end, the NRP works with corporate partners who share this commitment to action for truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities. Long-standing corporate partner, IKEA Canada is one such partner.
“At IKEA Canada, creating a welcoming, safe, and accepting environment is part of our vision to create a better everyday life for all Canadians. We are a purpose-led and values-driven organization that cares deeply about Indigenous Peoples and are resolute in our commitment to support Indigenous cultures and contribute to reconciliation with First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
We believe that reconciliation in Canada is everyone’s responsibility. In response to #92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, and in consultation with the Indigenous community, we developed a national Indigenous reconciliation strategy in 2021. As part of this strategy, we aim to foster inclusivity, allyship, and real change for the Indigenous community through learning and teaching, collaborating with and amplifying Indigenous voices, and working in reciprocity with the Indigenous community.
We know that there is much more work to be done, and we will continue to use our platform to spark dialogue, educate our co-workers and customers and co-create with Indigenous communities across Canada. We look forward to many more years of working in partnership with organizations like Save the Children who share our commitment towards reconciliation.“
On National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as individuals and organizations actively engage in reflections and actions towards reconciliation, it can feel uncomfortable. However, moving from a place of comfort to discomfort may be a sign of meaningful engagement and change on the path to allyship in truth and reconciliation.
We encourage you to join us in leaning into that discomfort and embarking on an ongoing commitment of reflection, respect, reciprocity, and action.
To learn more about allyship with Indigenous Peoples, browse the following resources:
-Indigenous Corporate Training Inc, Free EBooks: https://www.ictinc.ca/free-ebooks
Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network,
-Indigenous Ally Toolkit: https://reseaumtlnetwork.com/wp–content/uploads/2022/12/Ally_March.pdf
-Calgary Foundation, Treaty 7 Indigenous ally Toolkit: https://calgaryfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/124715-Calgary-Foundation-Treaty-7-Indigenous-Ally-Toolkit-c.c.pdf
-TRC, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Executive_Summary_English_Web.pdf
 Canada’s Residential Schools: Reconciliation. The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume 6. 2015. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. /https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Volume_6_Reconciliation_English_Web.pdf
 Smith, Jackson & Puckett, Cassandra & Simon, Wendy. (2015). Indigenous allyship: An overview.