Fewer than 1 per cent of employees working in B.C.’s tech sector self-identify as Indigenous: survey

posted on December 1, 2020

November 21, 2020

By Christina Jung, CBC News

The CEO of a B.C. tech company says there’s a “lot of work to do” in the tech sector when it comes to the number of Indigenous people employed.

Josh Nilson, CEO of East Side Games in Vancouver, is Métis and grew up in northern B.C., just outside of Prince George. When he was growing up, he said he “never thought tech was even an option” until he took a website-making course at Capilano College and “stumbled into technology.”

“This is something that we need to talk about more in our studios … to try to change that,” Nilson said. “We have got to start on those small steps to change the narrative and start talking about this.”

HR Tech Group, a not-for-profit organization that provides data, labour market information and resources for B.C.’s tech sector, surveyed 134 tech companies in B.C. and found only 0.5 per cent of employees self identified as Indigenous.

In 2019, the organization partnered with the provincial government to create the Diversity and Inclusion Tech Project, which focuses on bringing more diverse people and perspectives to the industry.

“We have to be able to talk with media and industry and government to reach out to kids and say tech is an option,” Nilson said. “I think, outside of Vancouver and Victoria, it’s very limited, especially northern B.C., for people to even know that they could work in games or technology.”

He said as a way to raise awareness, he’s made an effort to try and talk about his path to his current career and running a game studio.

“It is possible and I’m just trying to tell my story so hopefully somebody sees me and says, ‘hey, maybe I could be that guy.'”

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