OPINION: We need to start calling out corporate ‘redwashing’ – by Clayton Thomas-Müller (CBC News Opinion – March 20, 2017)


Redwashing is when corporations paint themselves as good neighbours by sponsoring Indigenous initiatives

Have you ever wondered why corporations and banks provide sponsorship for so many Indigenous educational, cultural and artistic institutions? Are they really good neighbours? Socially responsible corporate citizens? It seems like everywhere you look, there they are: sponsoring our Indigenous award shows, our schools, our pow wows — the list goes on.

In my own territory in northern Manitoba, we see the presence of Manitoba Hydro in just about every aspect of our community, including sponsorship of school barbecues and Treaty Days celebrations.

In Fort Chipewyan, Alta., Syncrude sponsors the local youth centre, where Dene, Cree and Métis youth go to learn and socialize. In northern Saskatchewan, uranium giant Cameco makes sure to report about the millions it spends on initiatives for aboriginal youth.

Typical corporate philanthropy?

And it doesn’t just happen in communities that bear the brunt of project development: in Vancouver last year, oilsands giant Suncor Energy donated land that used to be a gas station to the construction of a long-sought-after centre for Indigenous youth. Sure, these same companies sponsor all sorts of non-Indigenous groups and activities too, but Indigenous communities are the ones seeing their lands destroyed by these same corporations.

So how should we characterize all of this? Just regular old corporate philanthropy?

Here’s another label: redwashing.

Redwashing is an attempt by a corporation to paint itself as “benevolent” — a good neighbour — through sponsorship schemes for Indigenous education, art and culture. It is the process of covering up the detrimental effects of corporate initiatives with friendly slogans and lump sum donations to Indigenous communities.

For the rest of this opinion, click here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/corporate-redwashing-1.4030443