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 bcachievement.com.

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

Canoe Paddles Installed at Government House to Launch Call for Nominations for 2023 BC Reconciliation Award

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

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 inaugural ceremony recognizing the 2021 and 2022 recipients will take place at Government House in Victoria in the new year. 

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 years’ recipients receive a print of a canoe paddle decorated 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. 

The nomination period for the Award will be open from November 22, 2022, until January 20, 2023. Nomination forms are available on the BC Achievement Foundation website, bcachievement.com.

Contact:

Rachel Rilkoff
Communications and Events Officer
Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
778-679-2278
[email protected]

Gemma Bishop
BC Achievement Foundation
604-375-6953
[email protected]  

Backgrounder:

2022 Reconciliation Paddle
Artist: Crystal Behn, Dene and Carrier

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.”

2021 Reconciliation Paddle
Artist: Cole Speck, Kwakwaka’wakw

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.”

Learn about the 2021 and 2022 BC Reconciliation Award recipients: https://ltgov.bc.ca/priority-programs/the-bc-reconciliation-award.

Images of the Reconciliation Paddles and the paddle installation may be downloaded at: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/e5nreb5p3s2seat1ff8ah/h?dl=0&rlkey=d9wfvfib1song8xrz8us3jb2t

Quotes:

The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia:

“As we launch the third year of the British Columbia Reconciliation Award, the image of the paddles resonates stronger than ever. It is through combined effort that paddles move a canoe forward. I see this united strength in our past recipients and look forward to witnessing it in the 2023 nominations. I am deeply honoured to display the Reconciliation Paddles at Government House as a symbol of an ongoing commitment to reconciliation. I encourage all British Columbians to nominate those whose incredible work toward reconciliation has made a deep impact on their lives or communities.”

Cloy-e-iis, Dr. Judith Sayers (Hupacasath Nation), BC Achievement Foundation Board Member:

“Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is about righting past wrongs. In order for it to be true reconciliation, Indigenous peoples must define what reconciliation is and what is needed to move forward.”

“Bridging the gap between the two worlds through the reconciliation efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples builds the relationships needed for the journey. By recognizing the truths of past wrongs and showcasing examples of how to make things right, others will be inspired to follow.”

“In its third year, the British Columbia Reconciliation Award continues to celebrate innovative and empowering ways to embark on this journey, designed and decided by Indigenous peoples, allowing them to thrive while making the world a better place. We look forward to celebrating the 2023 award recipients.”

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

Open for Nominations: BC Reconciliation Award program #nominatenowbc 

Photo: 2022 BC Reconciliation Award recipient, T̓łaḵwagila – Chief Bill Cranmer

“Reconciliation builds relationships and bridges the gap between two worlds through the efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. By recognizing the truths of past wrongs and showcasing examples of how to make things right, others will be inspired to follow.” BC Achievement Foundation board member Cloy-e-iis, Dr. Judith Sayers 

There’s been much talk of reconciliation and there are many individuals and organizations who are taking action by implementing ideas and programs to move this effort forward. BC Achievement works in partnership with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia to deliver the program and we are collectively honoured to highlight the program recipients and inspired by their achievements. 

Now in its third year, the British Columbia Reconciliation Award recognizes excellence in the area of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of BC. 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.  

Who will be recognized as the recipients of the 2023 installment of the award?

It is time to start considering who is doing this work and tell the stories of reconciliation in action throughout the province and #nominatenowbc! Submissions will be accepted starting November 22, 2022, until January 20, 2023. We encourage you to look around in your community and make note of who is doing great work and deserves to be recognized so their story can be shared. Nominations will be accepted online at bcachievement.com and they will be reviewed by a selection committee including representation from Indigenous Elders and leadership. 

November 22 marks the day that the two reconciliation paddles, designed by First Nations artists and former recipients of the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art will be installed at Government House in Victoria. These two paddles, one created for each year of the award, symbolize the inspiration behind the award. The inspiration is the work of the Honourable Steven Point [Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl], 28th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and a founder of the award, and his hand-carved red cedar canoe, Shxwtitostel, currently on display at the BC Legislature building. It 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. 

Watch for the photos from the paddle installment and congratulations to paddle artists Cole Speck and Crystal Dehn on their artistry and their commitment to reconciliation. 

Don’t forget nominations for the BC Reconciliation Award will be accepted November 22, 2023 – January 20, 2023! #nominatenowbc 

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

The dedication of the BC Reconciliation Award recipients shines a light on excellence in reconciliation 

“Reconciliation builds relationships and bridges the gap between two worlds through the efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. By recognizing the truths of past wrongs and showcasing examples of how to make things right, others will be inspired to follow.” BC Achievement Foundation board member Cloy-e-iis, Dr. Judith Sayers 

The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, in partnership with the BC Achievement Foundation, recently announced the recipients of the second British Columbia Reconciliation Award. 

The award recognizes six extraordinary individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia, or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts. 

The awardees are: 

Individual Recipients:  

Organization Recipients:  

The British Columbia 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. 

The selection committee for the 2022 British Columbia Reconciliation Award, including representation from Indigenous Elders and leadership, is: 

  • p̓i·q̓, Dr. Christopher Horsethief – Ktunaxa Nation 
  • T’esóts’en, Patrick Kelly – Leq’á:mel Nation 
  • Nicole McLaren – Métis Nation 
  • Cloy-e-iis, Dr. Judith Sayers – Hupacasath Nation 
  • T,łalisam, Kim van der Woerd – ‘Namgis Nation 

Members of the selection committee, along with the Honourable Steven Point, led in the creation and design of the BC Reconciliation Award, ensuring the award was founded on the principles of Indigenous culture and knowledge. 

Congratulations to the awardees on their commitment and leadership. Their reconciliation achievements serve as examples of what can be accomplished by working together with respect, understanding and a common objective. 

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

The Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the BC Achievement Foundation announce 2022 Reconciliation Award Recipients

Vancouver, B.C. The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, in partnership with the  BC Achievement Foundation, is honoured to announce the recipients of the second  British Columbia Reconciliation Award. The award recognizes six extraordinary individuals and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia, or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts. 

Individual Recipients: 

  • Kwuntiltunaat, Kim Baird (Tsawwassen) 
  • T̓łaḵwagila, Chief Bill Cranmer (Alert Bay) 
  • Brendan Eshom (Prince Rupert) 

Organization Recipients: 

  • Atomic Cartoons in partnership with GBH (Vancouver)  
  • DIVERSEcity – Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (Surrey) 
  • Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and the City of Kamloops (Kamloops) 

“Reconciliation builds relationships and bridges the gap between two worlds through the efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. 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 Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers. “In its second year, the British Columbia Reconciliation Award continues to celebrate innovative and empowering ways to embark on this journey, designed and decided by Indigenous peoples, allowing them to thrive while making the world a better place. On behalf of BC Achievement, we are privileged to announce and honour the 2022 awardees. Congratulations to all the recipients and thank you for your efforts on our collective reconciliation journey.”

The BC Achievement Foundation has several established programs honouring excellence and inspiring achievement throughout British Columbia, including the Indigenous Business Award and the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art.

“For the second year of the British Columbia Reconciliation Award, I have been heartened by the continued focus on advancing reconciliation in BC,” said the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. “The 2022 recipients represent elders and youth, partnership and leadership. They showcase creative ways of educating young generations and new Canadians on the history and culture of Indigenous people, ensuring all are included on the journey of reconciliation. It has been my deep honour to champion the award, and I couldn’t be prouder to share the accomplishments of the 2022 recipients with British Columbians.”  

The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, has chosen reconciliation as one of the key priorities of her mandate. This commitment includes participation in promotion of public awareness of the ongoing journey of reconciliation, and developing a legacy through the creation of this award. 

The British Columbia 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, this year’s recipients will receive a print of a canoe paddle beaded by Dene and Carrier artist Crystal Behn to commemorate the award. Crystal Behn is the Emerging Artist recipient of the 2021 Fulmer Award in First Nations Art. 

The selection committee for the 2022 British Columbia Reconciliation Award, including representation from Indigenous Elders and leadership, is: 

  • p̓i·q̓, Dr. Christopher Horsethief – Ktunaxa Nation 
  • T’esóts’en, Patrick Kelly – Leq’á:mel Nation  
  • Nicole McLaren – Métis Nation  
  • Cloy-e-iis, Dr. Judith Sayers – Hupacasath Nation  
  • T,łalisam, Dr. Kim van der Woerd – ‘Namgis Nation 

Members of the selection committee, along with the Honourable Steven Point, led in the creation and design of the BC Reconciliation Award, ensuring the award was founded on the principles of Indigenous culture and knowledge. 

Interviews with representatives of the BC Achievement Foundation, as well as BC Reconciliation Award recipients, are available upon request.

For more information about the BC Achievement Foundation or BC Reconciliation Award program, please visit www.bcachievement.com

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About BC Achievement 

BC Achievement is an independent foundation established in 2003 that celebrates the spirit of excellence in our province and serves to honour the best of British Columbia. By recognizing the accomplishments of our province’s entrepreneurs, artists, community leaders, youth and volunteers, its award programs pay tribute to exceptional people, doing exceptional work, while carving a path forward for others to follow.  

www.bcachievement.com 

Media Contacts:

Gemma Bishop 
Bishop PR 
T: 604-375-6953 
E: [email protected] 

Amanda Campbell 
Director of Communications, Programs and Outreach 
Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia 
T: 250-480-8948  
E: [email protected] 

2022 BC Reconciliation Award – Backgrounders

Atomic Cartoons in partnership with GBH (Vancouver) 

Atomic Cartoons demonstrated ground-breaking leadership in the production of the animated children’s series Molly of Denali, which airs on CBC Kids in Canada and GBH/PBS in the United States. The program follows the adventures of Molly Mabray, an inquisitive 10-year-old with cultural heritage from three Athabascan groups (the Gwich’in, Koyukon and Dena’ina), as she and her friends explore the epic surroundings and rich Indigenous culture of their fictional home in present day Alaska. Through the eyes of children, this series touches on deeply important topics such as colonialism and the legacy of residential schools, and every story told speaks to resilience, strength and compassion.   

By celebrating stories of Indigeneity, family and community life, Molly of Denali provides an important platform to address racism, colonialism and reconciliation. The series champions diversity at every level and serves as an integral resource that every person – of all ages and backgrounds – can enjoy and learn from. Molly of Denali offers an entertaining and informative perspective that humanizes Indigenous experiences, while informing the next generations about cultural richness. It is also grounded in a trailblazing curriculum focused on informational text, a foundational aspect of literacy education. This provides a wonderful journey for children to learn, while also reinforcing hope in their lives.   

By producing this series, Atomic Cartoons and GBH/PBS recognized the importance of including Indigenous perspectives at all levels. More than 60 Indigenous crew and advisors were recruited to work on the series – including writing, animation, direction, music and voice work – with many gaining their very first opportunity to secure work in entertainment. Atomic Cartoons has championed a growing movement to celebrate and acknowledge Indigenous voices in all their diversity. As our society understands that Indigenous peoples and cultures belong on television, we will all grow to understand that Indigenous voices belong in every dialogue.   

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and the City of Kamloops (Kamloops) 

The First Nation of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (TteS) and the City of Kamloops share a vision and commitment toward reconciliation through relationship building that spans multiple fronts and which has become a recognized example for others to follow. For more than a decade, efforts have been demonstrated through collaborative initiatives in areas of protocol, communication, community-to-community and knowledge-sharing meetings, cultural heritage, celebrations, and through shared service agreements including fire protection, transit, and sanitary sewer management. These opportunities are planned and initiated through transparent processes that acknowledge and celebrate commitments and sharing of TteS’s culture, values, and history to the wider public. One of the first official acknowledgements was the signing of the Statement of Political Relationship by the Mayor of Kamloops and TteS Chief in 1991. The ongoing relationship has paved the way for open and ongoing conversations about shared interests and concerns ever since.  

The unique partnership approach has allowed both organizations to move toward repeatable successes at the community level by being open and responsive, recognizing that bumps along the way are opportunities to learn, and through building trust and shared understanding. The City of Kamloops and TteS are building enduring legacies: physical spaces (parks and trails) for the greater community to recreate together; culturally respectful and mutually beneficial infrastructure and infrastructure agreements; educating staff and officials in the Secwépemc language culture and history; offering community wide classes in the Secwépemc language; shared governance capacity building; honouring special events; and celebrating the relationship successes community wide. The strategic relationship between the City of Kamloops and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc provides inspiration through its growing successes. Future leaders can look to this relationship as a model and will have the benefit of building on the systems, legacies and precedents created.  

DIVERSEcity – Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (Surrey) 

The Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and run by DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, started the process that led to the creation of the Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers years ago, with the intention of addressing the lack of educational resources about First Peoples in Canada, created from an Indigenous perspective. The first of its kind in Surrey, the 46-page guide provides information on histories and current challenges of Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit people in Canada, and addresses common misconceptions and stereotypes about the First Peoples, and also celebrates Indigenous brilliance and excellence. Led by Jeska Slater from the Fisher River Cree Nation and her team at Littlecrane Consulting, with illustrations and graphic design by the team at Nahanee Creative, the guide uses a community-centered approach to amplify the stories of land-based Nations, urban populations, and Indigenous champions.  

The Guide represents a clear indication of the LIP’s alignment with the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which provides a roadmap to advance truth and reconciliation in Canada. This includes addressing common misconceptions about the First People of this land, a key step in the important work of building solidarity between the Indigenous and newcomer communities in Surrey. Extensive research and a series of community conversations were facilitated to create the resource through roundtables bringing Newcomer and Indigenous communities together, while working closely with several Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and Elders, including Chief Harley Chappell of the Semiahmoo First Nation and Chief Marilyn Gabriel of the Kwantlen First Nation amongst others, as a fulfillment of LIP’s vision to sustain the work of building solidarity. As Len Pierre from the Katzie First Nation writes in the forward for the guide, “The importance of documents like this First Peoples Guide…is a progressive step in the right direction towards learning, understanding and respecting the original and First Peoples of the lands you now call home.” The guide is available through LIP’s website and is offered in multiple languages, making it accessible to all. 

Kwuntiltunaat – Kim Baird (Tsawwassen) 

Kwuntiltunaat – Kim Baird is an accomplished leader, a respected advocate for Indigenous people, and is nationally recognized for her work in reconciliation. She is a graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, receiving the Distinguished Alumni award in 2012 and currently serves as the University’s Chancellor. Kim’s life work has provided a foundation that will create the opportunity for the process of reconciliation to exist/thrive. This includes acknowledging that First Nations have a right to self-determination, a quality of life equal to all and in partnership with all people.  

At the age of just 28 years old she was the elected Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN). She held this important position for six terms, from 1999-2012. In that role Kim’s most notable achievements towards reconciliation took place. On behalf of TFN she negotiated BC’s first urban modern treaty, which came into effect on April 3, 2009. The treaty provided unprecedented benefits and opportunities, and her leadership contributed to TFN being one of the most progressive First Nations in Canada. She says, “true reconciliation” means “no longer being tethered to the Indian Act, and gaining access to financial resources and economic opportunities, and to services and programs for TFN members.”  

In the spirit of the BC Reconciliation Award, she believes that respect must go beyond Aboriginal rights and title. It needs to be reflected in laws, policies and in the operations of government and the courts. To support this ongoing quest, Kim now runs her own consulting firm and continues to share her expertise on many public and private boards, working tirelessly to serve her community in both official and unofficial capacities. 

Brendan Eshom (Prince Rupert) 

Brendan Eshom is a member of the Gitga’at (Hartley Bay) First Nation. He graduated from Prince Rupert’s Charles Hays Secondary School as valedictorian in 2020 and is currently studying in the Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia. Brendan is a long-time advocate for Ts’msyen culture and heritage. Brendan took advantage of School District 52’s language education programs to become conversant in Sm’algyax, the language of the Ts’msyen Nation. He became a regular speaker at public events, delivering greetings in Sm’algyax, and providing the English translation of spoken addresses by Elders. 

Throughout 2018 and 2019 Brendan worked with Indigenous speakers of Sm’algyax and educators, preparing for the launch of a website dedicated to sharing the language, one word at a time. The site – www.smalgyaxword.ca – launched in 2019. Since then, the online resource has grown and expanded into social media. In mid-2020, Brendan launched a complementary mobile app that further amplifies his mission to document and share the Sm’algyax language. Further developments include a daily text message subscription service and Braille alphabet. 

Brendan’s language advocacy work has been widely reported by media and recognized by his community as part of a new generation of Indigenous cultural leadership. Through his dedication to the preservation of Ts’msyen heritage, Brendan is connecting the past and present in a way that builds understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. 

“Part of my vision for this project has been to promote dialogue, both in and about the   Sm’algyax language,” Eshom says. “People have all kinds of reasons they want to learn a specific word, and this allows them to share their unique interest with the community of Sm’algyax learners and allies.” 

T̓łaḵwagila – Chief Bill Cranmer (Alert Bay) 

T̓łaḵwagila – Chief Bill Cranmer has been a strong, and vital voice for the sustainment of the ‘Namgis First Nation language and culture. He led the repatriation of cultural objects including masks, bentwood boxes, and regalia that were confiscated under duress in 1921 after a Kwakwaka’wakw potlatch held in the village of ‘Mimkwamlis on Village Island, BC. The confiscation was sanctioned through Canada’s “Anti Potlatch Law” which existed between 1884-1951. Twenty community members were sent to be imprisoned at the other end of the province because of practicing their traditions.   

A fluent speaker of Kwak’wala, Bill worked tirelessly to retrieve the appropriated pieces and raise awareness about need to preserve and maintain language, history and culture. The repatriation of the some of the 750 confiscated items has had a significant, positive impact on the community. He has travelled to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere to share the story and present on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations and the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation.    

As Chief Councillor of the ‘Namgis First Nation, Bill negotiated economic treaties to develop businesses for his nation to prosper. Bill has spent numerous terms on the Executive Board of the Native Brotherhood of BC and has been an Elder / Cornerpost with the First Nations Health Authority, giving historical and cultural input into meetings. His efforts in the preservation of First Nations’ traditions have gone a very long way towards reconciliation. In a speech at the opening of the U’mista Cultural Centre, which houses much of the reclaimed potlatch items, in 1980 he said, “It’s important to know your past if you are going to fight for your future.”   

How partnerships have helped bring attention to reconciliation 

Highlighting excellence has always been about more than the individual. For 19 years BC Achievement has elevated the communities that nurture and benefit from the people we recognize. The effects of their work ripple outward, building momentum and enriching countless lives.  

BC Achievement continually forges new relationships and adapts its programming to recognize new areas of excellence. The foundation is honoured to partner with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia to recognize those, who from a place of deep respect and understanding, work to further reconciliation in our province.

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award represents BC Achievement’s mission and values, underscored by a deep and urgent sense of purpose. It is a mission shared by the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of BC, who has chosen reconciliation as one of the key priorities of her mandate. This commitment includes participation in promotion of public awareness of the ongoing journey of reconciliation. 

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

Members of the organizing committee, along with Honourable Steven Point, led in the creation and design of the BC Reconciliation Award, ensuring the award is founded on Indigenous culture and knowledge. 

The reconciliation journey strengthens relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Recognizing past colonial injustices and healing those wounds with positive actions will lead to a brighter future. Lasting and meaningful change will take continued, consistent and committed effort. The partnership between the BC Achievement Foundation and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of BC elevates those leaders who inspire, and teaches us all how to paddle in the same canoe. 

We look forward to announcing the 2022 Reconciliation Awardees. Learn more about the inaugural BC Reconciliation Award here. 

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

Corey Payette: creating space in theatre for reconciliation 

Photo: 2021 British Columbia Reconciliation Awardee, Corey Payette

A playwright, actor, composer and director, Corey Payette’s highly acclaimed musical production, Children of God, has brought conversations on truth and reconciliation to audiences throughout Canada. Corey is a leader in contemporary Indigenous theatre, and through his role as artistic director of Urban Ink and Raven Theatre, he mentors emerging BIPOC artists in telling their own stories from their own unique voices.  

In 2021 Corey Payette received the inaugural British Columbia Reconciliation Award for his work and commitment to inspiring and making lasting change to reconciliation through the arts.  

Corey, an Oji-Cree from Ontario who has made his home in Vancouver for the last decade, was not raised in the culture of his nations, but as a child he came to know the stories of this family and ancestors that had been silenced for generations. In adulthood, he found passion in telling the stories that shed light on the experiences of Indigenous peoples.  

Photo: Children of God

In Children of God, an Oji-Cree family has their children taken away to a residential school in Northern Ontario. Following the production, a conversation is created for the community to hear from residential school survivors and their descendants. While Corey had prepared himself for the stories of the survivors, he was struck by the number of non-Indigenous people who spoke up. In response to these shared memories and deep truths, they offered their commitment to teach their children the history of residential schools and to be better citizens. This, Corey says, is reconciliation in action—when individuals see it as their personal responsibility to make change. It means adapting one’s view of what it means to live on this land and making the commitments to move forward.  

Today, Corey continues his pursuit of reconciliation and the arts through his most recent offering Stories that Transform Us a film that premiered at the 2021 Vancouver International Film Festival last fall. The film illustrates how Urban Ink began and how it has evolved over the years, featuring the artistic leaders that helped shape the company, and how their work created a space where diverse and Indigenous stories could be heard. 

Thanks to Corey’s commitment to his craft, thousands of Canadians understand the truth and enduring impacts of residential schools and intergenerational trauma. His work has created space for survivors to share their stories and young people, many who have been cut off from their language or have been displaced from their communities, to voice their experiences. 

In response to receiving the BC Reconciliation Award, Corey is humble but inspired: “I feel like I’ve only just begun this work. It makes me feel like I’m on the right road and that my musicals are reaching people and making lasting change in the community.”  

Keep in touch for more stories on the individuals and organizations that capture the best of British Columbia and carve a path forward for others to follow.  

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

Xele’milh-Doris Paul, BC Reconciliation Award recipient, 2021 

Xele’milh-Doris Paul, Squamish Nation elder and leader, is an unwavering volunteer who brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to achieve safety, health and shared understanding in her North Vancouver community. In 2021 she was awarded the inaugural British Columbia Reconciliation Award.

Doris remembers the first time she felt empowered to seek reconciliation for the betterment of her community. “It started in 2005 when I heard about kids as young as nine drinking at parties. I’d go knock on the door and call out the kids.” She wondered if parents were aware of their children’s activities and to help address the problem Doris was keen to engage the RCMP. She invited the West Vancouver Police to meet with parents and the Council and the dialogue started. Through research and her own persistence, a partnership between the Nation’s parents and local police was formed called the Integrated First Nations Unit (IFNU).  

To this day she remains involved in the program and is highly respected. “Every time a new IFNU member is hired, they knock on my door to introduce themselves. I love this integrated team.” 

Her steadfast leadership on the North Shore’s Violence Against Women Committee further exemplifies her determination to deepen Indigenous cultural understanding and the work of reconciliation for many, most importantly the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Through her work on MMIWG, she acted as Cultural Advisor to help create the “Strength and Remembrance Pole”, which sits outside the North Vancouver RCMP Detachment. The pole honours the MMIWG, and the lives lost at the Ècole Polytechnique University. 

“Every spring to acknowledge MMIWG, we put roses at the foot of the totem but I had to tell the RCMP that the pole is as sacred as a headstone, so the police should not clear away the dead flowers. The flowers should be disposed of in a running body of water.” Respecting the cultural knowledge Doris shared with them, the IFNU members invited Doris and others to join them and together they broke the water with a cedar bough and laid the flowers to rest in the water. “One of them actually ended with a prayer. This was a vision I had when we first created IFNU but I was never sure we’d have a cultural connection.” 

In 2007 Doris was awarded BC Achievement’s Community Award as the founder and chair of Caring for Our Youth Committee, a community organization formed to protect youth from drug dealers, violence, and suffering and pain caused by addiction. And today she’s getting the ball rolling to start it back up after hearing from the community. “People are ready for some kind of justice support and this younger generation can see the vision.” 

Doris is a leader in her community, bringing people together. Her ability to learn more about the BC Reconciliation Award and the stories it has inspired, visit www.bcachievement.com  

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

British Columbia Reconciliation Award nominations close January 15

Photo: 2021 Crabtree McLennan Artist, Cole Speck, Reconciliation paddle

Following the successful inaugural offering of the 2021 British Columbia Reconciliation Award, BC Achievement, in partnership with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, launched the second British Columbia Reconciliation Award program with nominations open from November 15, 2021 until January 15, 2022.

The inaugural 2020 program received an outstanding province-wide response reflecting the remarkable contributions so many British Columbians are making toward reconciliation.

The recipients of the first British Columbia Reconciliation Award were honoured for demonstrating exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province of British Columbia, or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts.

Individual Recipients:

Dawn Drummond
Xele’milh-Doris Paul
Corey Payette
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Dr. David Suzuki
Corporal Christopher Voller

Organization Recipients:

Carrier Sekani Family Services
Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast
xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ (Many Ways of Doing the Same Thing) Research Team

“Being part of establishing the reconciliation award program and serving on the inaugural selection committee has been heartwarming and empowering. Reviewing all the nominations has shown me the power of reconciliation and how it can change people and community’s lives for the better. It shows we can live together and achieve great things if there are willing people working towards a vision of reconciliation.”
BC Achievement Board Member Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award draws inspiration from the work of the Honourable Steven Point [Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl], OBC 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, this year’s recipients received a framed print of a canoe paddle painted by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Cole Speck.

Nominations for the 2022 British Columbia Reconciliation Award are open until January 15 at bcachievement.com #nominatenowbc

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

Reconciliation fuelled by collaboration – Dawn Drummond

Photo: 2021 Awardee, Dawn Drummond

In spring of 2021 Dawn Drummond was awarded the inaugural Reconciliation Award for her exceptional leadership and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in BC. As the Regional Manager, Indigenous Relations in the Southern Interior with the Ministry of Transportation (MoTi), Dawn has built trusting relationships with regional Indigenous communities based on two-way dialogue, honesty and mutual respect.  

Her collaborative approach has resulted in more meaningful consultation, mitigation and accommodation outcomes due to a deeper understanding of MoTi project impacts on Indigenous communities.  

As she reflects on her work, Dawn is clear that “Reconciliation is not about words, it’s about action.” Throughout the course of her career, Dawn has come to understand that the actions required for reconciliation can take many forms: the action to complete and honour commitments, to understand the unique history and stories of a community, and to appreciate culture and traditional language. But most important, Dawn stresses, is the action of not giving up. Perseverance goes hand-in-hand with trust and vulnerability on the many steps of the reconciliation journey.  

Dawn’s earliest awareness of the concept of reconciliation and how it might be applied to her work came after the completion of her first fully executed reconciliation highway agreement with an Indigenous community. At the signing ceremony, she was gifted a drum and was asked to learn a Secwepemc song to play at the gathering. Dawn was overcome with emotion at what she and the community had accomplished working together. The experience brought new purpose to her work and spurred her to start down a path dedicated to resolving historical reconciliation agreements, with continued advocacy for change, innovative solutions, and a commitment to keep coming back to a community even when the discussions are challenging.   

It’s Dawn’s hope that evolving mindfulness will shape the future of MoTi and chart a positive path forward inclusive of everyone. “The innovation and creativity that I bring to the table for negotiations is successful,” Dawn says, “because of collaboration with communities. Each community is unique in what they are looking to achieve and what works for one community may not work for another. It’s my job to listen and understand how my work can help resolve immediate issues [but] also contribute to the community as a whole.”

As an example, Dawn and the Williams Lake First Nation collaborated on alternative procurement language for a project that included a minimum value committed for Indigenous economic opportunities. The alternative language was successful and has since that time been used for other projects. “I’m proud that we developed this language,” Dawn says, “and that my colleagues and executive were supportive to try a different approach. This established a path to provide more economic opportunities within highway projects for other First Nation communities.”  

BC Reconciliation Award juror Chief Sophie Pierre was also struck by this element of Dawn’s work: “Dawn is an outstanding example of an individual doing a job exceptionally well. She’s acknowledged by the First Nations she serves and described as someone who gets things done. What a great model she provides for other ministries to follow.”  

“I’m truly humbled to be recognized for my work through this award,” Dawn says. “It’s an honour to work with a community and their leadership. I appreciate their willingness to not only work with me but to get to know each other and share moments in our lives.” Dawn is quick to reiterate that reconciliation is not easy. The work required to understand historical grievances and find a way to collaborate with each community in setting a path forward is immense. But with these collaborations comes the power of meaningful, genuine connection, and wonderful friendships too. “I love travelling to communities,” Dawn says, “sharing a meal, having a laugh, and then getting down to business.” 

Dawn believes in the significance of receiving an award honouring reconciliation work and its champions. “Reconciliation is not easy, and it is a journey of many steps. It requires vulnerability, trust, and perseverance. Being able to celebrate reconciliation achievements around the province and offer examples of the reconciliation journey in progress is the significance of this award.” 

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award is now in its second year, and invites your nominations of individuals, groups and organizations that advance reconciliation in this province. Nominations are open now at bcachievement.com until January 15, 2022. #nominatenowbc 

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