My name is Tiara and I am the Manager of Indigenous Relations Public Policy, working out of our office in Ottawa. My job is to ensure the voices of our Indigenous partners are heard by policy makers in Ottawa. It’s a challenging task, but one I’m excited to tackle. I want to live in a Canada where the government truly understands the treaties they signed and industry helps honour those treaties – I’m hopeful for the day when the country no longer has intergenerational poverty. While I was working for the Federal Minister of Natural Resources, I learned about Coastal GasLink and the efforts being made to ensure Indigenous participation was at the forefront of the project. I knew then that TC Energy was changing the way industry and Indigenous Nations interacted and I wanted to be part of that change.
I like to say that my background is as diverse and as colourful as the nation I live in. I am Piikani through my mother’s family, while my father’s family is from Newfoundland.
For the longest time, I was not connected to my Indigenous culture. It’s said that we are what we see, and I didn’t see myself positively represented in society. But about 10 years ago, I met some amazing First Nation women – one who became my mentor and showed me through her actions what being an Indigenous woman means: We are strong and should be proud of who we are.
Around that time, I began reconnecting with my culture through running. I would run in the early morning. I was by myself, one with nature, I could hear my breathing and feel my feet pound the ground – during those moments, I figured out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be for the next generation.
My mother taught me that as Indigenous women, we always carry our ancestors with us. My grandmother’s teachings to love yourself and never allow people to dictate who you are, helped me understand that I must make space for the next generation to grow and thrive and ensure I’m leaving the world a better place.
I’m now a mother of a two-year-old toddler named Archie and my husband and I are expecting a second child in September. Becoming a mom has been a steep learning curve and my days and nights are focused around my family. Some of my pre-child interests are on the backburner for now, but I still like to share what’s important to me with my son. Several times a week, I start the day with a 10 km run with Archie in a running stroller. He also likes to ride his mini stationary bike when I’m on my Peloton.
I’ve even brought him on a few business trips to Calgary and Vancouver. TC Energy has a reputation as a family-friendly company, which I find is true. I joined TC Energy in December and the hiring process was thoughtful and deliberate. There was an Indigenous person on my hiring panel who made me feel welcome, heard and seen. I was talking to someone who understood the complex issues Indigenous peoples face in the corporate world, which took stress off my shoulders. Now six months into my role, I have flexibility and can demonstrate to my son what it means to be a successful working mother.
However, at the end of the day what I really want to showcase to Archie and other Indigenous youth is that despite systemic racism in Canada, we can overcome these barriers. For so long, Indigenous people were just surviving, but now we can really thrive. We have such rich cultures, vibrancy, resiliency and strength, which are passed down from generation to generation.
I feel great pride now when I share about my heritage with people, and it’s important for me to help my son connect with his culture as well. Every night at bedtime, I read a book to him written by a Blackfoot author and we go over the Blackfoot alphabet every day – for his benefit and mine!
Every National Indigenous Peoples Day, it’s a tradition to take my son to the sunrise ceremony as part of the annual celebrations taking place in Ottawa and this year will be the same. For a long time, this day has been recognized but not honoured. Fortunately, things are changing and I’m excited to be paving my own path and helping others along the way. Together we can send ripples of positive change across the country.