How to be a Better Settler #3: Hire Indigenous freelancers for more than just “Indigenous” work

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Think about it. If you’re in a position to hire, and you work at a non-Indigenous organization, why not hire the Indigenous photographer that covered that Indigenous youth event for you, and did a good job at it, for your Annual General Meeting, or a stakeholders event, or your Christmas gala? If all you ever do is hire Indigenous people to cover the lives and events of other Indigenous people, you contribute to our cultural silos, and you encourage the invisibility and the separation that is currently the status quo. And you keep really talented Indigenous pros away from great opportunities for more exposure, and better work.

I’ve heard a few people I know talk about how they’re only hired for the ‘Indigenous’ work, and how they’d really prefer to be hired for all the work. Even A Tribe Called Red made a conscious choice not to submit their album Nation II Nation in the Aboriginal Album of the Year category for the 2014 Junos because they wanted to be recognized for their genre (Electronic) and not for race. They wanted to be recognized not as Indigenous Musicians, but as, well, musicians.

Imagine disrupting the status quo. It’s way more progressive to have a talented, hardworking Indigenous person working all your events (“She’s our go-to photographer. You should hire her”) that gives that person exposure to more decision-makers with hiring power, and more money. It also contributes to the interactions between people, reducing that invisibility. It means that you stop hiring freelancers as Indigenous Freelancers and instead hire them as just, well, freelancers.

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