June 21, 2018 marks the 22nd National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, a day where we celebrate the diversity of Indigenous cultures and the unique contributions Indigenous peoples make throughout our province.
Every person in B.C. has a role to play in reconciliation, to understand our shared history, and work together to heal and build a better future. Our celebrations across B.C. and Canada show public support and understanding for the principle of reconciliation, and for taking action to find meaningful solutions. This is just the beginning, and there is a lot to do as reconciliation cannot be achieved overnight – it is a continuous and ongoing commitment.
Celebrating Indigenous people advancing reconciliation in B.C.
Colleen Lucier, Métis:
Photo credit: Boldfish Video Productions Inc.
“In honour of all that our ancestors experienced, from the fear of persecution for being Michif (Métis) to the extreme hardship of life as Road Allowance People, I am called to contribute to reconciliation by remembering who I am as a Michif woman, our traditional values, our language our cultural teachings and all the gifts I have inherited from my ancestors. As the Executive Director of Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services, a Métis delegated child and family services agency, I bring this commitment to our agency’s practice. By drawing on our traditional values such as kindness, compassion, respect and the importance of kinship relationships, we are reminding our children, youth and families of who they are as Métis People and reclaiming our long legacy of keeping our children and families safe, strong and together.
"National Indigenous Peoples Day marks a particular day on which many will celebrate and take part, perhaps for the first time, in an Indigenous ceremony or celebration as First Nations, Métis and Inuit People. And at the same time, every day is an opportunity to remember that the strength and resiliency evident among our ancestors is still running in our veins today and alive in each of our spirits. Reminding ourselves and our children, youth and families of this brings hope and where there is hope anything is possible. This is the message we bring to those we serve at Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services and contributes to our ability to transform child welfare services and outcomes for our Métis People."
Timmy Masso, Tlaoquiaht First Nation:
“I’ve been studying my language of Nuu chah nulth since I was nine years old. My brother had an operation and when he wasn’t well, the Elders would come in to sing and say prayers, this is when I fell in love with my language. When I was heading back to school, I was looking forward to taking a language course and was very upset when it wasn’t as I expected. That’s when I started taking University courses through UVIC and the Quuquuatas Language Society at home in Ucluelet. When I started grade 8 and noticed the language course was just another stair block, I asked if I could teach the class.
In October 2016, I was at an AFN meeting with my mom and brother when Minister Carolyn Bennett was speaking about Indigenous languages and how they were doing everything they could to bring them back, I told her how I felt and what I was doing. She then told me to be an advocate for language revitalization. So, in January 2017 I stepped away from school and have attended over 70 meetings across Canada and the US as an advocate for language revitalization.
I believe that learning our languages connects us with the land, and when we learn we feel more connected and this is just one small step to reconciliation.”
Bryce Mercredi, Métis:
About twenty-six years ago, I, along with six other Métis formed a local Métis community, North Island. As we grew, the Métis people of the Comox Valley created the MIKI’SIW Métis Association. The most rewarding part of my work with the North Island Métis and the MIKI’SIW Métis was my work with the Aboriginal Education Council of School District 71 in the Comox Valley.
I have seen the attitude of Indigenous students change. In the early years, the students would not acknowledge their ancestry and were embarrassed if you discussed it. Today, at the graduation ceremonies, the students are proudly wearing their Métis sashes and the First Nation students wearing their regalia.
We still have a long way to go in discrimination and bullying of Indigenous students, but attitudes are slowly changing.”
Adina Williams, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, 'Namgis, Mayan:
I think that by understanding the land that you’re on and acknowledging the Indigenous peoples on whose territories you live, work and learn on is so important. We all play a role in this process, and if we all start to make small changes, we will be on our way to a good place. Our future generations are depending on us.”
Our government's commitment to Reconciliation
British Columbia is moving forward on reconciliation in partnership with Indigenous peoples to make life better for everyone in B.C. The Province’s focus on building a true and lasting vision of reconciliation is anchored by a cross-government commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (un.org) , the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action (trc.ca) , and case law.
The provincial government is making significant new investments in Indigenous priorities and reconciliation, with more than $250 million allocated over the next three years in the areas of affordable housing, language revitalization, child care, mental health and addictions, reducing poverty, improving access to justice, skills training, emergency management and revitalizing the environmental assessment process.
Monday, June 18, 2018 – Province makes historic Indigenous housing investment
More Indigenous peoples will have homes they can afford throughout British Columbia, as the Province launches a new housing fund for projects both on and off-reserve, making B.C. the first province or territory in Canada to open provincial housing funds for on-reserve projects.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 – Greater Victoria Urban Reconciliation Pilot
In a partnership with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, government representatives along with local First Nations and urban Indigenous organizations have created the Greater Victoria Urban Indigenous Reconciliation Pilot.
Thursday, June 21, 2018 – Premiers Statement on National Indigenous Peoples Day
Twenty-two years ago, National Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated for the first time in Canada as National Aboriginal Day. It recognizes the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples who have lived on this land since time immemorial.