Lands inhabited by Indigenous Peoples contain ~80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Incorporating the traditional knowledge and knowledge systems of Indigenous Peoples is key to designing a sustainable future for all. As the International Institute for Sustainable Development points out, respecting and promoting the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, self-determination, and consent is vital to strengthening their role as custodians of nature and agents of change.

At Matrix, we strive to ensure we engage with Indigenous communities whenever we are working in their Traditional Territories. Over the years we have formed many strong relationships with Indigenous communities and Indigenous businesses in Canada. We believe organizations like ours have an important role to play by taking reconcili-ACTION when forming meaningful partnerships that move beyond words and contribute to true reconciliation with our Indigenous partners.

Meet our Director, Indigenous Relations

Suzanne Life-Yeomans

Why is it important for a company like Matrix to form strong relationships with Indigenous Communities?

All of Canada is Indigenous lands (Traditional Territories), so there is nowhere that we should not be trying to establish relationships with Indigenous people. Matrix already has a great start to building these strong relationships – my role is to enhance them with my knowledge of Indigenous culture and traditions.

What are your top priorities as Matrix's Indigenous Relations Lead?

We are focused on enhancing Matrix’s established relationships with Indigenous people and making new relationships throughout Canada. I want to keep Matrix in the spotlight as a good partner when it comes to working with Indigenous communities. It’s also a priority to help Matrix employees continue to build an understanding of the complicated past of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

How would you describe the alignment in values between Matrix and Indigenous communities?

I believe Matrix’s mission is aligned with many Indigenous communities, as the company’s purpose centres on environmental stewardship – protecting Mother Earth. Indigenous communities have always had strong ties to Mother Earth, and sharing these important values helps establish common ground when starting relationship-building within those communities.

Partnerships and Experience

When we work with Indigenous communities, we ensure that we are supporting the articles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as recommended in the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. We strive to be a respectful partner when working on the Traditional Territories of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

To date, Matrix has worked with more than 15 Indigenous communities or businesses across Canada, which includes establishing our formal Relationship Agreement with Aseniwuche Winewak Nation (AWN), near Grande Cache, AB. We built a relationship with AWN starting in 2010, and the partnership agreement and framework was formed in 2020 in the spirit of cooperation, honesty, trust and understanding. Through this agreement, we collaborate with Aseniwuche Environmental Corporation (AEC) on capacity-building opportunities for environmental projects.

Elder Jackie Bromley, Josie Nepinak, Cyndi Gazzard, and Florinda Kootenay led Matrix’s senior leadership team through a KAIROS Blanket Exercise. The workshop aims to foster understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Learn more about the KAIROS Blanket Exercise here.

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