New B.C. award will honour people, groups working toward Indigenous reconciliation

© Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press B.C.'s Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin says she wants to encourage respect and goodwill with the new British Columbia Reconciliation Award.

British Columbians working to improve relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and organizations could now be honoured for their work with a newly created provincial prize.

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award, announced Nov. 12, is open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous applicants, and will be awarded to an individuals or organization who has shown leadership and commitment to furthering reconciliation.

Created in partnership with the B.C. Achievement Foundation and the Office of the B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor, the idea for the prize came from the Honourable Steven Point, lieutenant-governor from 2007 to 2012 and a member of the Stó:lō Nation.

During his time in office, Point carved a red cedar canoe he then gave to the provincial government as symbolic gift to all British Columbians, saying then that if we “paddle in the same direction, maybe we can accomplish something.”

Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and a B.C. Achievement Foundation board member, said there are already many examples of meaningful work, such as joint tourism initiatives between municipalities and First Nations, and that she, as a member of the selection committee thinks she will have a challenging job choosing a winner.

Sayers, speaking on CBC’s The Early Edition Thursday, said despite the historical role of the Crown and its treatment of First Nations, she hopes the award will be perceived positively by Indigenous people.

Lt. Gov. Janet Austin said it is an affirmation of the respect and goodwill that her office wants to encourage and while there is no question there are many black marks in history, but that does not mean moving forward cannot be done constructively.

“It is certainly my desire and my intent to be part of that,” said Austin.

A selection committee for the award will include representation from Indigenous elders, First Nations leadership and government partners.

Applications are now open online and the first award is expected to be given out this coming spring.

Source: CBC News