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BC mulls 'Aboriginal awareness' course for employees

The provincial government is looking at creating a sensitivity training course on "Aboriginal awareness" for all government employees.

The online course will be focused on building basic knowledge and sensitivity about Aboriginal people, according to a request released on the province's public bid website.

The government hopes the course will address basic questions such as, who are Aboriginal people ("The Indian, Inuit and Métis people of Canada," according to the document), to polite terminology ("'First Nation' is the generally preferred term for Indian peoples of Canada," the request reads), to understanding the business case for cultural awareness.

The course will also seek to promote "understanding [of] the issues that influence stereotypical impressions of Aboriginal people."

The idea of a sensitivity course stems from conversations between the provincial government and B.C.'s First Nations Leadership Council.

"Developing a common base of knowledge, including awareness of and sensitivity to the current and historical issues that Aboriginal peoples face, is vital to building a greater understanding that leads to effective Aboriginal relations," the request reads.

Dan Martel has run similar education programs for government and businesses in Alberta.

"It's basic introduction to Aboriginal people 101," said Martel, the owner of Four Winds and Associates.

He says offering the course is simply good for business.

"When we're doing workshops with industry, it's letting them know about the untapped workforce that is available," Martel said. "It's how to recruit and attain Aboriginal people, how to bring them into the workplace. Everybody has to get along to achieve the goal, which is good business."

Irwin Loy is a reporter for 24 Hours and is a frequent contributor to the Hook.

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