Getting a relationship off on the right foot: Ed Collins helps bridge the cultural gap at DST Consulting Engineers – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – March 19, 2020)

Ed Collins’ teachings about Aboriginal culture seem to be rubbing off on some of his coworkers at DST Consulting Engineers. The manager of Indigenous relations said it’s not uncommon for a few of his non-Indigenous colleagues to come into his office to request a smudge ceremony as a stress reliever.

Some feel the need for a spiritual uplift or a mental cleansing to alleviate negative feelings. “We’re not healing the sick; we’re just healing the mind, the soul and body,” said Collins, a member of the Fort William First Nation.

DST is a consulting engineering firm specializing in environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, materials testing, and demolition. In the DST boardroom in Thunder Bay, where Collins is based, there’s a basket of small tobacco pouches to remind staff members of the custom of presenting the traditional gift when approaching a community Elder.

Understanding the spiritual and cultural sides of Canada’s First Nations people is but one aspect of building a harmonious and longstanding relationship between communities and industry.

Collins, who’s created the Indigenous relations policy for the company, has crafted a cultural sensitivity workshop, Walk in My Moccasins. He’s been tasked to roll it out to the 2,400 staff with DST and the subsidiaries of the parent company, Englobe.

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