New award launched to celebrate champions of reconciliation in B.C.

·2 min read

A new prestigious award in B.C. will recognize individuals and organizations that have strived to further reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award was launched Nov. 12 by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and BC Achievement Foundation.

Honorable Janet Austin said she identified reconciliation as one of her key mandates when she accepted the role of Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

“It’s been important to me personally and it’s something that I have attempted to work on in the past before and it’s also something that was a particular project of previous lieutenant-governor Steven Point.”

A member of the Stó:lō Nation, Point served as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of B.C.and had a vision for such an award in which he is being credited as a founder.

In April 2010 Premier Gordon Campbell formally accepted a hand-carved red cedar canoe as a gift to all British Columbians made by Point symbolizing reconciliation with the understanding that ‘we are all in the same canoe’ and must “paddle together to move forward.”

“Our world and its issues are not apart from us but rather are a part of who we are,” Point said in a news release, noting he is proud to witness the launch of the B.C. Reconciliation Award.

“We must not stand by and observe the world but rather take steps to bring positive change.”

Austin said she believes the country is at a pivotal time in understanding the history of colonialism which has created difficulties and resulted in incredible suffering throughout Indigenous communities across Canada.

“And that needs to be changed,” she said.

By recognizing the truths of past wrongs and showcasing examples of how to make things right others will be inspired to follow said BC Achievement Foundation board member Judith Sayers.

A selection committee for the award will include representation by Indigenous elders, First Nations leadership and government partners, noted the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

Nominations will be accepted until Jan 15, 2021, with recipients anticipated to be announced in spring or early summer.

Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune