As Canada celebrates National Aboriginal Day, the Province of B.C. is supporting a new project that will see education and awareness dialogues on the legacy of federal Indian Residential Schools taking place in communities across the province.
The B.C. government is joining Reconciliation Canada in a partnership with the Union of BC Municipalities and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres to hold reconciliation workshops throughout B.C. A $300,000 contribution from the Province will fund the non-profit society to train community facilitators.
The community dialogues will address a call to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada for improved education and awareness surrounding the impacts of Indian Residential Schools. For many British Columbians, these workshops will provide the first opportunity to become involved in reconciliation and help build a more inclusive province.
Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad made the announcement while attending a significant reconciliation event in Prince George. The city is renaming Fort George Park in honour of the Lheidli T’enneh people who were forced to move their village in 1913 to make way for the growing city. The Lheidli T’enneh burial ground is located in the park.
In support of the municipal reconciliation effort, the provincial government is providing a $25,000 grant for the City of Prince George and the Lheidli T’enneh to create a suitable memorial to be placed in the park.
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Reconciliation Canada Ambassador -
“Our experience is that reconciliation is not just a First Nations issue. It is a fundamental issue for all British Columbians. We are very pleased to partner with the Ministry for Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation through the Off Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan, and join the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres to support reconciliation dialogues throughout B.C. This partnership will bring together British Columbians to join in meaningful dialogue and actions for a more inclusive, successful and sustainable province."
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation -
“Today, we are taking a step forward in reconciliation with First Nations and all British Columbians, here is Prince George, and across B.C. Reconciliation requires that we understand and acknowledge the past, and do the work of repairing relationships. Both the City of Prince George and Reconciliation Canada are clearly committed to this work. I am pleased to support these community conversations that can bring us closer to reconciliation and closer to each other.”
Chief Dominic Frederik, Lheidli T’enneh First Nation -
“Reconciliation also means the full acknowledgement of the history of our People, the Lheidli T’enneh. The stories must be told - it’s about building a relationship based on trust, respect and open communication. Reconciliation also signifies that there is hope. Our hope is for a better future for our children, our grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and so forth - a chance for us to move forward together.”
Lyn Hall, Prince George Mayor -
"In recognition of the city's 100th anniversary and of the vital role the Lheidli T'enneh play in our community, we are acknowledging that we are on their traditional territory, which includes Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park. The park's new name commemorates, in a respectful way, our city's shared history. The permanent presence of the Lheidli T'enneh flag at city hall appropriately recognizes the First Nation as a level of government and is a reminder that this is their traditional territory. We are also celebrating the progressive and caring community Prince George has become in its first 100 years."
Sav Dhaliwal, UBCM President, Burnaby City Councillor -
“The Union of BC Municipalities strongly supports the Province’s contribution to an initiative that aligns with our membership’s goals and objectives as they relate to reconciliation. Partnering with Reconciliation Canada to promote and sustain reconciliation dialogue will further strengthen the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people throughout British Columbia.”
- Reconciliation Canada - A New Way Forward Society - is an Aboriginal-led, culturally diverse, nonpartisan, non-profit organization.
- Reconciliation Canada was born from the vision of Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Gwawaenuk Elder. Chief Joseph is the Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and a member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council. He was formerly the Executive Director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and is an honourary witness to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- A survivor of the St. Michael’s Indian Residential School, Chief Joseph was recently awarded the Order of BC for his dedication to renewing relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and all Canadians
- Residential schools date back to the 1870s.
- Over 130 residential schools were located across Canada, and the last school closed as recently as 1996.
- The Province is pleased to support the Reconciliation Canada project as part of the Off Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan.
- Aboriginal history, culture and perspectives have been integrated into the new K-12 curriculum about to be released to teachers and schools in B.C. The integration of the history and ongoing legacy of the residential school system will be further enhanced in the new curriculum.
Reconciliation Canada: reconciliationcanada.ca/
Information on 100 Dialogues Project: reconciliationcanada.ca/a-new-way-forward/reconciliation-dialogue-workshops/100-reconciliation-dialogue-workshops-in-british-columbia/
B.C. progress toward reconciliation: news.gov.bc.ca/stories/bc-making-progress-toward-reconciliation
Off Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=1A50DCF9FFF9487194C3A78E525DC83F
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation