business, Indigenous Issues

How Indigenous Awareness Training Helps Everyone


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How I Started Providing Indigenous Awareness Training

The first Indigenous Peoples in Canada awareness training I hosted was in the winter of 2016. It was an emotional roller-coaster, when I started learning the material and the history. I initially started learning because I wanted to know more about why my family was the way they were and why their social situation was the way that it was, and why I saw so much poverty around me, growing up.

In addition to connecting with community in the north end and First Nation communities around Manitoba, I attended courses at the University of Manitoba and online. I remember most of my learning experience was sitting in the back of the class and crying. I used to wear scarves a lot, and I would use the scarves to collect my tears. It was a time of mourning and healing for me.

As I was learning the material, such as the Indian Act, it helped me to begin to understand the world I saw around me. Learning the history and deeper contexts helped me understand how these ‘forces’ were connected to me, and it caused within me a great urgency to share it, because I thought if people could know and understand this history, then they will want to be part of the solution, just like I had.

My Personal Journey with this Training

I learned that Indigenous history has to do with everyone who is Canadian, and I also learned that engaging in deeper learning is a very personal journey for each of us. Whether we become engaged through employment or other public avenues, it is one by one that we begin to change, and it’s one by one that we build relationships, and it is one by one, that we become part of the solution. 

I saw clearly the shocking disproportion of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and related some of their experiences to some experiences that I had growing up and that caused me to recognize that any one of those missing and murdered women could have been me. 

The work is not always easy, it comes with great responsibility but what has been most rewarding is sitting in a brand new circle of people in a workplace or organization, and for the first time, people are self declaring their First Nation or Metis identity. This is a really powerful experience for me and a powerful step for individuals, because for many years it was not safe to identify as Indigenous, First Nation or Metis, and because of that, people lost connection to family and community as a result. For years, individuals hid their identity if they could ‘pass’ as non-indigenous, to be accepted in society and avoid discrimination and racist experiences. It is not a peaceful life experience if you can’t express who you are.

Another powerful experience that happens as a result of the training and what has been very rewarding is that when we talk about our shared relationship as individuals with the institution we know as Canada, it causes us to reflect. When we are open to reflect on our lives, our experiences, our privileges, it causes us to remember what we hope for, for ourselves and for our families, and then we can come together with shared hopes, we realize how much in this together we really are.

Contents of the Indigenous Awareness Training Program

One of the sessions I offer is the KAIROS Blanket Exercise which is a half-day activity that walks participants through a 500 year timeline. It helps to string things together that people will maybe only hear about sporadically otherwise. 

I spend a major focus of our discussions on the impacts of the Indian Act, connecting them to some of today’s Indigenous issues like the reconciliation commission, land claims, and Indian Residential Schools. It’s only with that understanding do people have a better grasp of where we have been, where we are and where we start in moving forward.

Successes of Providing this training

Many people don’t really understand or are aware of how racist beliefs began or are aware enough to understand that they exist. When you don’t have that awareness, it’s easier for inaccurate stereotypes and myths to persist, which perpetuate current situations that exclude Indigenous people from involvement in many areas of our society. 

One of my personal goals is to connect Indigenous people with employment. I’ve had opportunities to connect very large companies with community leaders and people who are ready and want to work. Providing employment helps parents raise their children better, it helps families provide nutrition and access to safe homes and more. In many ways, ‘access to a job’ is something we all take for granted. 

The Present Version of this Training

I’ve done Indigenous training for three full years and it’s amazing how there is still so much I have to learn. There are days where carrying the load of this work seems like a lot to bear over and over again, but I still believe in the reason I started. The more I share this message means that more people will have the opportunity to better understand and commit to caring and making a difference. The more sharing circles I am in, the more that I have learned how valuable this work is because people leave the room asking this question, ‘What can I do?’ Which means we are creating allies. And we can’t do this work alone, and we shouldn’t do this work alone, and building a community that wants to do better for all Canadians, is very rewarding. 

One of my goals is to continue and train young Indigenous speakers that want to do this work through my training company, and build a network, working together. 

What does the Training Look like?

Introductory sessions start at half day or three days. I have up to six different sessions for purchase. Companies can proceed with a half-day or multiple half days, or take the leap and go for the full package where we go through the training with staff, management and board, and also have opportunities to learn more about Indigenous protocols, current landscape and most of all, engage in strategic sessions on how their individual company can transform their actions. 

How can companies or groups book this training?

My website form is the best start at https://jessicadumas.com/training/ or emailing me at jessica@jessicadumas.com. 

business, Winnipeg

My first month as Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Chairperson


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Where it all Began

As I reflect on my first month as Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce chair, I’m taken back to why I got into being in business as an entrepreneur in the first place.  I spent my first professional years ‘job hopping’ and trying to find work that I was passionate about. A few of my initial opportunities had some connections to things I liked, such as event planning, social media, but I definitely gravitated to meetings and workshop facilitation. After getting a taste of doing things  I loved to do, it was hard to go back to anything that I wasn’t 100% passionate about. Some jobs had perks and benefits that kept me longer, like expense accounts and free parking, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t happy unless I was serving my dream. I love that as an entrepreneur I can take my business wherever I want to.

I think this role at the Chamber of Commerce is part of my destiny. I was invited to serve as Chairperson and I have always looked at leadership as service and a responsibility. It is an honour to be asked to serve as chairperson for such a reputable & influential organization. The initial conversation was in 2014 or 2015 and I said yes right away. It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously but at the same time I know I am going to have a lot of fun.

Memorable Moments

A major professional and personal highlight that has already happened in my role was when I introduced Michelle Obama to Winnipeg at a Chamber event on September 24th, 2019. I was Incoming Chairperson at the time and that was definitely my favorite experience. The coolest thing I have ever said on stage was “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome former First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama!” I still get goosebumps when I say it! 

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM)  and Swearing-In-Ceremony was also very memorable. We invited Elder Norman Meade to share an opening prayer and he lead us in the most outstanding prayer experience. He asked all the men in the room to stand and join him in a prayer specifically for all of the women. It was incredible and beautiful. In my swearing in speech, I shared some thoughts on my experience and vision, and I received a standing ovation. It was a moving experience for me. 

No Surprises so far

Being on the board for nearly 5 years, I can’t say that there have been any ‘surprises’. What has been most impressive is seeing how the staff communicate and work together. It has been fun getting to know our CEO, as we now have more phone calls and check-ins, but they are an amazing group of people who know their roles and I love working with all of them. I am excited about bringing my experience to the greater Winnipeg audience and adding value where possible. I have a lot to offer and I know the Chamber will give me plenty of opportunities to demonstrate that, whether through facilitating meetings, luncheons or other speaking opportunities. 

An Indigenous Woman’s Perspective

I have had a couple of conversations with groups who still see no women on boards and I think it is a shame. Unless your mandate is to simply serve men, you’re doing it wrong. My perspective as a women is proper corporate decision making needs to reflect the community you serve and that means ‘diversity’, and that includes women and LGBTQ+ peoples.

Twenty years ago, I heard that the Indigenous population would be one of the fastest growing populations in our province, and that then it would be ‘our best interest to build relationships and engage with them now’, and today it is even more urgent to engage.  There are a lot of great things happening in our city, but there is still so much work to do. Engaging with Indigenous populations is smart business.

Onto the next 30 days…

So, my first month has been extremely fantastic. I feel like there has been a lot of momentum with celebrating the welcoming stage of the role and in the next 30 days we will have had our first luncheon, business mixer and board meeting! So it’s really time to get down to business, but I will keep celebrating.

Get Involved with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

There are lots of ways to engage and you don’t have to wait for the chamber to come to you, come out to us! ‘The Chamber’ is a group of people who are working together to make great things happen for themselves but also for the greater community. Not only can the chamber do great things for your business and network but there are so many people out there with such incredible talent that it gets me excited to imagine all the amazing things that can happen out of new relationships so If you haven’t already, come and check it out.

business, positive, Speaking, Winnipeg

An inspirational day with Michelle Obama


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Interview with Jessica Dumas

by Joel Parent of JPC (Joel Parent Consulting)

You recently introduced Michelle Obama at an event in Winnipeg, how did this all come about?
Original plans of Michele‘s visit was scheduled for November, at that time I would’ve been chairperson of the Winnipeg chamber and the special opportunity to introduce her would’ve been obvious as chairperson. But she came in September which meant Scott Sissons was still the chair person. But he got to introduce Barack in April, so between him and Loren Remillard our CEO, they graced me the opportunity!

How did you prepare for an event like this? Were you nervous?
I was more excited than nervous. I’ve spoke many times and really enjoy speaking in front of a crowd. Preparation for this event was different in the way that the chamber drafted the presentation and it had to be approved by Michelle‘s event crew.

I practiced the script several times because I wanted to have most of it memorized but was thankful I could bring the notes on the stage with me. With all of the practice that I’ve had speaking, my level of nervousness was real low. It was still there a tiny bit, but it was low.

Did you get a chance to personally meet Michelle? What was that like?
I got to meet Michelle twice! The first time was behind the stage, moments before we went up, and second when I got to take a photo with her at the VIP event. 

The first time was like seeing an angel, she really is larger than life, in the way that her aura and energy is strong and loving. She’s very tall and so graceful. She came toward me with her arms out for a hug and said “Hi Jessica!!” I felt like a little girl!

Were you surprised by anything Michelle said?
I wasn’t surprised, I was pleased. Her presentation was so open, so relatable, as a woman I could connect to many of the things she talked about, except for of course presidency and living in the White House. Haha. She could be a friend! And I wish every woman I know could have been there. 

What was your favorite takeaway from Mrs Obama’s comments?
I loved how she confidently expressed “I’m Michelle Obama!” In a way that “Ya, I know who I am, I am a powerful woman and you should know that too!” Something I truly believe in is that when we allow ourselves to shine in our own power, it allows others around us to shine in their own power. 

My Sweetheart often says to me “who are you?” And makes me respond, “I am Jessica Dumas.” And it always makes me shy. Hearing Michelle feel so proud saying her name so confidently makes me feel more confident to say In my own strength and power “I’m Jessica Dumas!”

Were you inspired by anything at the event? How do you plan to use that inspiration?
Michelle Obama is today’s Princess Diana. A strong beautiful woman using her platform and power for good. And yet she says she is just like everybody else. We all have the power to do good things, say good things, be a good person. And whether our platform is big or small, we have the power to do something. I plan to keep that message with me forever. 

How can people get in touch with you to use your public speaking/hosting skills?
They can go check out my public speaking service page right here.
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How Far Will You Go in 2017?


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Click this link!

How Far Will You Go?

 

Here is my gift to you! Because I want us all to succeed! We are all in this together and I want to plan the best year for 2017! Join me on facebook by following my page @JessicaDumas01 at 12 Noon on January 6th and January 13th, to EXPLORE and make the best INTENTIONS for 2017.

These 2 Webinars are FREE for new members! We will explore some things to consider when making goals and resolutions, how to define your vision in session 1 “What is your Vision for 2017?” and in session 2, after you had some brain time with your ideas, we will strategize, how to “MAKE IT HAPPEN!”

Change is a process and to be successful, you need to take some time and be intentional with it. Let’s do it together. Set your alarm and show up! See you then!

howfarcanyougo-page-001

 

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!


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Happy Holidays to everyone! I am in the process of launching my online coaching program, “My Prime Image”. I titled my company this name because we all have that inner being where all of our passion and secrets are hidden. My program aims to help bring that prime image, more strength and voice, to give you a happier and more fulfilling life.

My Prime Image Life Coaching program will help you master your mindset and have make 2017 & the rest of your life, the best of your life. (more…)