Dr. Danièle Behn Smith, Leadership in ReconciliACTION 

Photo: 2023 BC Reconciliation Award recipient, Dr. Danièle Behn Smith

With the deadline for nominations for the BC Reconciliation Award fast approaching, it’s a good time to highlight the work of one of the 2023 awardees, Dr. Danièle Behn Smith. Her exceptional leadership demonstrates excellence in reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. 

Dr. Danièle Behn Smith is Eh Cho Dene of Fort Nelson First Nation and Franco-Manitobain/Métis from the Red River Valley. Danièle has dedicated her medical career to serving rural and First Nations communities across Canada. In 2014, she transitioned to a functional medicine practice, embracing a complex systems biology approach to family practice that aligns with Indigenous approaches to health and healing. Danièle has also served as a board director for the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, director of education for the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Health Initiatives Program, and site director of the University of British Columbia’s Aboriginal Family practice residency.   

In 2015, Danièle joined the BC Office of the Provincial Health Officer (OPHO) as Deputy Provincial Health Officer, Indigenous Health, providing independent advice and support to the Ministry of Health on Indigenous health matters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Danièle contributed to identifying and arresting racism in various pandemic responses and policies. This included collaborating with the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and a coalition of First Nations leaders to establish a data-sharing framework expanding the scope of data shared to better support First Nations-led responses. Other anti-racist actions included advocating for the removal of requirements that the Provincial Health Officer approve First Nations-led pandemic response. Under Danièle’s guidance, the OPHO expanded to include six Indigenous team members, ensuring a strong Indigenous voice within the organization.   

A leader who actively advances reconciliation, Danièle works to raise awareness and promote acknowledgement that Indigenous-specific racism is perpetuated through colonial policies and practices that remain hardwired into our systems and processes and impede the health and wellness of Indigenous Peoples. She actively works to uphold the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples by taking actions on specific Foundational Commitments made to Indigenous Peoples (e.g., UNDRIP, TRC, MMIWG & In Plain Sight), being trustworthy in relationships with Indigenous partners, and taking anti-racist actions in all aspects of her work with the OPHO. She fosters relationships and collaborations to identify and eliminate racism in programs and services, while also promoting increased Indigenous cultural knowledge among those with whom she works. Danièle challenges the existing ways of knowing and operating within the healthcare system and society at large to improve the well-being of Indigenous communities.  

Now in its fourth year, the BC Reconciliation Award recognizes excellence in the area of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia. It aims to showcase leadership in reconciliation so others will follow on the journey forward. Last year six extraordinary individuals and organizations were recognized as recipients of this award for their exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to furthering reconciliation.  

Nominations for the BC Reconciliation Award will be accepted until January 31, 2024! #nominatenowbc.

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

The 2024 British Columbia Reconciliation Award – nominations open until Jan 31

The 2015 publication of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report defines reconciliation as “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country.” 

While the term reconciliation is familiar to most, translating it into action takes responsibility, recognition and respect. In keeping with the recommendations of the TRC report, and inspired by the work of the Honourable Steven Point [Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl], 28th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and a founder of the BC Reconciliation Award, the BC Achievement Foundation, in partnership with The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, launched the program in 2020.  

Now in its fourth year, this award program recognizes individuals, groups and organizations who demonstrate exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia or inspire others to continue reconciliation efforts. 

“Reconciliation serves as the foundation for forging meaningful connections and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Through acknowledging historical injustices and highlighting transformative initiatives, we inspire others to follow a similar path,” said Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers, board member of the BC Achievement Foundation. “As we step into the fourth year of the BC Reconciliation Award, we call for submission of nominations for the award program to help share the efforts of individuals and communities.” 

Nominations are open for the 2024 award program at bcachievement.com but only until January 31, 2024. Up to six individuals or organizations will be recognized for their efforts, commitment and impact towards reconciliation. 

“Every year we launch nominations for the BC Reconciliation Award. I grow more and more grateful for the opportunity to witness the exceptional ways in which individuals and organizations in British Columbia advance reconciliation,” said The Honourable Janet Austin, the Lieutenant Governor of BC. “It takes creativity, intelligence, but most importantly it takes courage—courage to acknowledge the injustices of the past and present, and courage to mend those wounds. I look forward to seeing this courage reflected in the 2024 nominations.” 

“Nominating individuals and organizations for the BC Reconciliation Award is a powerful testament to collective pledges to healing, unity, and understanding. My hope is that this recognition continues to inspire positive change and strengthens the bonds of reconciliation in our province.  As a juror and past recipient of the BC Reconciliation Award, I am humbled and honoured to witness and be a part of the transformative power of reconciliation efforts in British Columbia and encourage you to nominate those who are making a difference, change is transformative and we all must do our part,” said Chief/Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir, former recipient and 2023 selection committee member. 

The nomination period for the BC Reconciliation Award will be open until January 31, 2024. Online nominations are open on the BC Achievement Foundation website at www.bcachievement.com

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

New to the Community Award Program: The Emerging Leader Designation

Photo: 2023 Community Award recipient, Stephanie Quon

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the BC Achievement Foundation and its cornerstone program – the Community Award, which highlights the outstanding achievements of remarkable individuals in BC. Each of the awardees has made unique contributions to their communities, whether through volunteering or their daily work—and often both.  

Introduced to the 2024 Community Award program is a new recognition category: The Emerging Leader designation which recognizes and celebrates youth who are making a difference in their communities and striving to make BC a better place. This distinction will acknowledge the incredible dedication and efforts of young leaders. Through this empowerment, a ripple effect will transpire – one that resonates far beyond the initial act of service.  

The Emerging Leader designation will provide a platform for the next generation of leaders to showcase their skills, share their stories, and inspire change. “As we look to the future and the challenges that lie ahead, it is more important than ever to recognize the achievements of youth in our province. They are the ones who will lead us forward, and we need to support and encourage them every step of the way”, said Walter Pela, BC Achievement Board Chair.

The Community Award program has showcased the stories of over 660 British Columbians who have blazed a path forward through their community achievements. Such achievements require strength, courage, and skill, serving as an inspiration for others to follow. Community Award recipients have played a vital role in building stronger and more engaged communities thanks to their exceptional leadership. 

Join the movement by nominating worthy candidates, celebrating our outstanding awardees, and in doing so, build a better British Columbia together. By sharing the stories of inspiring British Columbians, BC Achievement illuminates transformative work, enabling others to follow their examples and create meaningful change in their communities.

Nominations for the Community Award are now open and can be submitted online at bcachievement.com until January 31, 2024. An independent jury panel of community leaders, which includes program alumni, adjudicate the submissions.  

Be part of it #nominatenowbc.  

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