Who are you? That’s the question Amanda Robért asks when facilitating a Canada’s History with Indigenous People (CHIP) session. She doesn’t want to know your job title—she’ll tell you to leave that at the door—she wants to know who you are as a person.

“In Indigenous cultures, we often talk about where we’re from, who our family is, where our home community is, if we’re an auntie or uncle, a parent, a sister or brother. A job title doesn’t tell me who you are,” explains Amanda, who’s been leading Suncor’s CHIP sessions since 2022.

Amanda is Métis Ojibwe whose ancestors hail from the Red River Settlement and the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Band of North Dakota. She began her Suncor career as a heavy equipment mechanic at Fort Hills in 2017 and has been a senior advisor with the Indigenous and Community Relations team since 2022.

Suncor has offered Indigenous awareness training to employees and contractors in various forms since 2006. The training supports Suncor’s Journey of Reconciliation with its focus on learning about Indigenous culture, history and lived experiences. Over the years, the training has evolved as different facilitators bring their personal stories and discussion. No session is the same as Amanda is continuously refreshing the content, sharing pieces of her own story and has witnessed profound changes in people’s thinking. Last year, over 300 people attended CHIP sessions, which Amanda considers more of an immersive cultural experience than training.

“People have epiphanies in CHIP,” says Amanda. “It’s more than training, it becomes a team-building exercise as well. When teams come into a session and they are vulnerable together, it’s powerful and they hold each other accountable.”

A woman sitting beside a bison skull.

Amanda Robért, coordinates and facilitates Suncor’s Canada’s History with Indigenous Peoples sessions.

Amanda often invites her Indigenous colleagues to co-facilitate the sessions, which makes the experience more engaging as they share their stories and experiences with attendees. Lana Hill, a member of the Cowessess First Nation, and a senior relations advisor on the I&CR team, is a regular co-facilitator of CHIP.

A group a people in a meeting room.

Lana Hill shares her story during a recent CHIP session.

“We can deliver the textbook history of Indigenous Peoples, but sharing our truth is what makes it real,” says Lana. “Our stories encourage people to act. We can’t change history, but we can all do our part to make a better tomorrow, and I feel that with every session we present.”

Amanda says that her support doesn’t end when the session is over, offering attendees “a lifetime warranty” on her support. “I want to keep those connections open. If someone has a question, they can ask me. If they want to attend a community event like a pow wow but aren’t entirely comfortable with how to approach that, there’s a good chance I’ll go with them.”

Suncor’s support of the awareness sessions and ensuring access and time for employees to take it, supports reconciliation in general.

“By giving me the space, platform and the audience, Suncor is demonstrating its commitment to reconciliation,” says Amanda. “These conversations weren’t happening 20 years ago.”

As we enter National Indigenous History Month in June, Amanda says it’s a time to celebrate everything that survived despite the atrocities of Canada’s history with Indigenous Peoples like residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. For many years, Indigenous Peoples were forbidden from practicing their culture and spiritual beliefs, even speaking their language wasn’t permitted.

For Amanda, sharing the truth about Canada’s history with her colleagues is a way to honour those who suffered in silence. Her goal is that one day, there won’t be a need for sessions like CHIP.

“I always leave a piece of myself in the sessions, and it can be emotionally draining,” explains Amanda. “But I know I’m making a difference and that’s rewarding. It’s spiritually fulfilling, and I know I’m doing right by those who never got the chance to speak up.”