Colby Delorme Feature
Colby is Métis and has been an entrepreneur since the age of 18 — he is now a leader, mentor and advocates for cross-cultural understanding and support between indigenous peoples and other communities.
Influence Mentoring Society is an organization that works to create better opportunities for Indigenous post-secondary students, through mentorship, and offers mentors a chance to raise their awareness of Indigenous issues, culture, and history. The Imagination Groups promote Indigenous art, traditions, and culture by finding and creating space in the modern business world for tradition.
Colby spoke to us about how Canadian newcomers might better understand, appreciate and find acceptance in Canada, through mentorship, and a true curiosity about Indigenous culture and practices.
“I think we could create this mutual understanding as the barriers are very similar between what newcomers face in Canada and what Indigenous people still face in Canada,” says Colby.
Colby believes that Canada has a long way to go in embracing its “native” culture, citing New Zealand as an example of a country that has successfully integrated its native culture into its national identity.
“I think Canada’s a long way away from it. I think we’re trying to make our way there, and I think we could,” says Colby
Colby encourages newcomers to explore shared cultural practices, take an interest in traditions, and learn about the real history of Canada and its impact on Indigenous people. Indigenous communities are generally open to teaching and accepting if approached respectfully and genuinely.
For newcomers, it’s important to have an Indigenous “champion” on your board of directors. Colby suggests that by taking a more analytical look at yourself you can identify any professional or cultural “gaps in knowledge” you might have. He suggests proactively assembling a diverse “board of directors,” composed of people from different professional and cultural backgrounds.
This can help newcomers as they adjust to Canada’s culture and labour market and better understand Indigenous knowledge, and practices, as well as the challenges, biases, and what allyship could look like.
Colby is an avid mentor who believes in the power and impact of mentorship. He formally and informally mentors young professionals, through the Influence Mentoring program and BMO’s mentorship program at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. He has significant experience in mentoring Indigenous people and people of colour.
“I’ve got an individual that I mentor right now,” says Colby. “She has built this group of mentors, and they are specific; she wants a marketing expert; she wants someone who’s been an entrepreneur for a long time. So that’s the role I play.”
These trusted individuals provide guidance and support, helping the mentee understand local customs, cultures, and ways of being and knowing. This personal network can become a powerful tool for newcomers and Canadian nationals alike to bridge cultural gaps and create notable career growth.
“You might have an Indigenous person there, or an Indigenous champion there to help you navigate Canada, and the rich cultural component that makes Canada what it is.”
Colby encourages newcomers to engage with Indigenous peoples from a place of authentic interest and curiosity. In a multicultural tapestry like Canada’s, Colby’s advice of proactively and purposefully gathering a person’s “board of directors” is something that can bridge cultures between newcomers and Indigenous communities.