Stay true to your roots

August 31, 2023

Championing the Cause: Tim O’Loan’s Journey to Illuminate Reconciliation

In an era where advocating for the rights and awareness of Indigenous people is mounting, few have embodied the spirit of this movement more profoundly than Tim O’Loan, the Founder and CEO of ReconciliActionS – Reconciliation Speakers Bureau who is Sahtu Dene living in Ottawa, Ontario. 

Having had the opportunity to serve as the Advisor to the Truth and Reconcilliation Committee (TRC) Chair, the Hon Murray Sinclair, Tim’s life took a turn which ultimately culminated in him championing the cause of reconciliation on a national level. “During that time and after the TRC closed down, I started speaking on reconciliation,” Tim recalls, reminiscing about the genesis of his entrepreneurial journey. “It was then I realized there was not a dedicated national level speakers bureau solely dedicated to reconciliation.” Thus, the Reconciliation Speakers Bureau was conceived.

The Bureau, which already boasts over 100 speakers delving into various topics about reconciliation, aims to provide insight based on unique lived experiences. Tim’s vision for it is clear, “We hope to be the first speaker’s bureau that people think of when requiring speakers to broaden their understanding of what reconciliation may look like.”

Behind his drive lies a personal connection. “I have been forever changed by witnessing the often inhumane and horrific experiences of the survivors of residential schools,” he shares. “When I disclosed my severe PTSD diagnosis to one of the TRC Commissioners, the Hon. Wilton (Willie) Littlechild, he looked at me and said, ‘We all wear their stories my son.’ I felt obligated to continue talking and lecturing on reconciliation.”

Notwithstanding his passion, the entrepreneurial road has been far from easy. Tim openly discusses his challenges, particularly his struggle with PTSD, crediting his Executive Director for managing the challenging facets of the business. 

Choosing to partake in the Pow Wow Pitch, Tim sees it as a platform that champions Indigenous-owned businesses like his. The experience has been enriching, with Tim noting, “The best part of Pow Wow Pitch so far is seeing all the amazing Indigenous entrepreneurs across Turtle Island!”

When it comes to inspiration, Tim fondly reminisces about his experiences with the Hon. Murray Sinclair and his grandfather, George Blondin. “Being part of his journey with the TRC, I witnessed the different ways and degrees of advocating for survivors.” His grandfather, who despite immense personal loss, continued to live with dignity, serves as another beacon of inspiration for Tim.

Offering advice to budding Indigenous entrepreneurs, Tim underscores the importance of ensuring dreams align with business realities. “There are loads of supports out there, so I would suggest researching and using all of the resources available,” he advises. 

In Tim O’Loan’s  journey from being a child of a survivor to the helm of a national speakers bureau showcases the power of determination and the importance of staying true to one’s roots.
Register to watch Tim pitch at the Professional Services Semi-Final Online Watch Party on September 11, 2023, at 6 PM ET and vote for Tim to win the 2023 People’s Choice Prize (#78) before September 17, 2023.