Over the past decade the University of Regina has been involved in a partnership with the Saskatchewan Government, in its commitment to create a representative workforce where Aboriginal people participate at all classifications and levels in the University in proportion to the Saskatchewan working-age population. The strategy is a focused approach that increases awareness and understanding of Aboriginal culture, fosters diversity in the workplace and provides employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.
Over time, with a focus on education, employment and economic development, the Representative Workforce Strategy has evolved to become a nationally and internationally recognized plan of action to achieve a more representative workforce.
This year the University was recognized for its pioneering role in this work with an award from the Provincial Aboriginal Representative Workforce Council (PARWC), which is a branch of the provincial Ministry of First Nations and Métis Relations. Victoria Gubbels, the director of Aboriginal Employment Development for the Ministry, presented the Pioneer Champions of Change awards to the U of R and other founding partners at a conference in early June.
"The U of R conducted critical research on Aboriginal employment, and was committed to support innovative ways of looking at Aboriginal employment," says Gubbels. The research was carried out by Jim Marshall, a researcher with what was then the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy and currently Economist in Residence at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. Marshall presented his findings at a PARWC conference in 2007, and other provincial ministries have used his work for policy development.
The U of R also developed the Aboriginal Employment and Service Directory, which has been well received by many organizations seeking to make their workforce more representative of the province's population. It has been updated several times since it was first issued in 2005.
Delephine Gall, the University's Aboriginal and Diversity Consultant, is the U of R's representative to the PARWC. Part of her role is to collaborate with other partners on policies and practices such as those that eventually led to the designation of the Aboriginal Representative Workforce Strategy as a Best Practice.
Gall acknowledges that it is nice to be recognized for being a pioneer. "There is still significant work to be done to make the University of Regina's workforce more representative," she says.