The Office of the Lieutenant Governor and BC Achievement Foundation worked together to celebrate reconciliation efforts in the province.
Just in time for National Indigenous History Month, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and BC Achievement Foundation announced the six recipients of this year’s BC Reconciliation Award, which celebrates reconciliation efforts in the province.
A member of the BC Achievement Foundation board, Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers, who is currently in her fifth year as president of the Nuu-Chah-nulth Tribal Council, notes that “to elevate and celebrate success” has always been the award foundation’s theme. Having been a lawyer, a professor and chief of the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni for fourteen years, Sayers thinks “reconciliation” has just become a buzzword.
“For me, reconciliation is making things right,” she says. “So how are people making things right out there?”
Out of 30 individual and 50 business applications, the selection committee of Indigenous Elders and leadership (including Sayers) narrowed it down to a list of 20 based on the level of impact being made in each respective community. The most important criteria was the meaning behind “reconciliation” and the ways in which people are trying to get the message across.
“It’s not just Indigenous people doing things in their own community, it has to be a collaborative effort between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people,” Sayers points out. “That’s what reconciliation is about.”
From being turned away from restaurants and buses to being acknowledged via landmarks and First Nations names, the history of the buzzword goes deep, Sayers notes. “Looking at ways in which we can work together better, whether it’s in tourism, business, in laying the foundation for greater understanding, or bottom line, getting rid of racism, that only comes with education.”
That’s why representing a range of voices—including First Nations people, Metís people and people from across the province—remained a priority for Sayers and the selection committee. “We thought if we could highlight and showcase any reconciliation between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people, it might inspire others to find their own forms of reconciliation or be innovative in creating some forms of reconciliation for themselves.”