Installation of two canoe paddles honour the journey of reconciliation

Photo: the Honourable Janet Austin and T’esóts’en, Patrick Kelly

Two canoe paddles honouring the achievements of the 2021 and 2022 BC Reconciliation Award recipients were installed at Government House on November 22, 2022. The installation of the paddles also marks the call for nominations launch for the 2023 BC Reconciliation Award program.

The BC Reconciliation Award is a partnership between the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and the BC Achievement Foundation, and recognizes individuals, groups and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering reconciliation or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts.

The BC Reconciliation Award draws inspiration from the work of the Honourable Steven Point [Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl], 28th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and a founder of the Award. His hand-carved red cedar canoe, Shxwtitostel, currently on display at the BC Legislature buildings, was created as a symbol of reconciliation, with the understanding that “we are all in the same canoe” and must “paddle together” to move forward.

In honour of this legacy, each year, recipients are presented with a print of a canoe paddle designed by the Emerging Artist recipient of the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art. The 2021 paddle was created by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Cole Speck, and the 2022 paddle was created by Dene and Carrier beader Crystal Behn. The ongoing series of BC Reconciliation Award paddles will be displayed in Government House.

2021 Reconciliation Paddle designed by Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Cole Speck

Paddle description by the artist:
“The sea monster has been carrying people through pre-reconciliation as it travels through the ocean. Now it is climbing out of the waves helping to bridge the gap toward reconciliation. No one has seen the sea monster for centuries but now that we are working towards reconciliation, there is hope that we will see the sea monster once again.”

2022 Reconciliation Paddle by Dene and Carrier artist, Crystal Behn

Paddle description by the artist:
“The traditional hand-smoked moosehide has a story. The moose was hunted, its meat fed many families. Tradition and knowledge were passed on from the hunt right to the art that was created from endless hours of preparing the hide. The beaded flower colours represent every nation. The stitching that runs along the edge represents the mothers and grandmothers that stitched together their children’s moccasins, many of those children did not return home from residential school. The red flower at the tip represents all the murdered and missing Indigenous woman, all our stolen sisters, the life givers. This paddle is bound together in the middle, my hope is that one day all nations will meet in the middle with understanding and compassion for one another. That all Indigenous nations will be accepted and shown mutual respect.”

The nomination period for the Awards will be open from November 22, 2022, until January 20, 2023. Nomination forms are available at

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change.