Reconciliation: There is Still Much Work to be Done 

Reconciliation in BC is an opportunity for the righting of relationships between settlers and the First Nations peoples who have occupied these lands since time immemorial. Embedded in our family histories, legends, and traditions we have an historical record of time and place that begins with the creation of the earth and is passed down through generations. We have complex systems of government; ecological governance systems that aim to plan for the next seven generations. 

When looking at the intentional and strategic assimilation plan historically employed by the Canadian Government, I am left with questions. Laws that ban the events where we discuss complex territorial self-governance, the burning of cultural regalia that was hundreds of years old, sterilizing generations of women, taking our children, and the ongoing impact of intergenerational abuse and trauma experienced by so many, are some of the wrongs which demand answers. 

Though there have been changes and shifts over the last three generations, there remains much work to do to repair current oppressive relationships that still aim to assimilate First Nations people into mainstream society. Systems that are designed to keep the majority of First Nations people dependent on government support need to be dismantled and redesigned to support the empowerment and prosperity of our people. 

Daily I am still subjected to racial slurs, racially rooted misconceptions of what it means to be First Nations, and so I question how the mindsets of individuals have changed when we are still being exposed to the well-established racism against First Nations people in this province. 

Truth acceptance needs to happen before reconciliation can happen. Settlers need to first recognize how they participate in perpetuating racism, change their mindset and belief systems, and then change their behaviour and language. Reconciliation demands the understanding that there are different ontologies and those committed to righting the relationships must have open minds to the idea that there are different cultures and worldviews that people govern and live by. 

For change to happen some say it is the responsibility of the education system, some say it is an organization’s responsibility and some say the individual home is where we can learn. Organizations are responsible for educating their employees, individuals are responsible for educating themselves – both need to learn and adapt their practices on how to work from an Indigenous trauma-informed lens. 

There is still much work to be done.  

To learn more and take action on reconciliation, visit Animikii, a leader in Indigenous entrepreneurship and innovation. 

By Angela Marston, Program Director, Indigenous Business Award 

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

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