Building Resilience with Chief Joseph

Apr 24, 2020

Reconciliation Canada presents a video series on staying resilient during the troubling times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through traditional teachings, our Ambassador Chief Robert Joseph explores how to respond to challenges, recover from difficulties and setbacks, and build emotional and spiritual resilience. 

Episode 1: Reconciling our mind, body, soul and spirit

Episode 2: How to cope with anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic

Episode 3: Chief Joesph’s Story of Resilience

A Message from Chief Joseph in light of COVID-19

Mar 24, 2020

“If ever there was a time and a need to honour our common humanity, ‘Namawyut [we are all one], this is it.  This is the moment.” – Chief Joseph sends a message to all, in light of COVID-19.    

For an update on Reconciliation Canada’s activities during this time, please click here.

Reconciliation Canada COVID-19 Update

Mar 20, 2020

Dear Friends and Supporters of Reconciliation Canada,

We wanted to take a moment to update you on Reconciliation Canada during these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the safety of our staff and community members, we have made the decision to close the office and postpone all upcoming workshops and events until further updates. Our staff are working from home, and we are doing all we can to ensure these new working arrangements have minimal impact on our operations. For instance, we are now working towards providing some of our programming and initiatives through remote platforms and we look forward to sharing them with you soon.   

We are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impact on the RC community. As the situation evolves, we will continue to provide further updates on our response. Meanwhile, feel free to reach out to our staff by email with any questions or concerns that you may have.

We wish you, your family and friends, safety and good health in these difficult times. We have every confidence that we can overcome this time of uncertainty by coming together as one and acting with the kindness, concern and empathy needed for the common good of all.


The Reconciliation Canada Team

Chief Dr. Robert Joseph’s Reflection to the Reading of UNDRIP in the Provincial Legislature

Nov 22, 2019

I trembled at the moment as BC MLA’s voted unanimously to give first reading to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Oct 24, 2019, in the provincial legislature.

It was impressive and inspiring because all I had ever seen in the course of my lifetime (80yrs) was the denial or trampling of Indigenous rights. As a tear or two trickled down my cheek, I experienced the wonder of the human spirit. My fundamental faith and belief in the sometimes elusive goodness of others were once again affirmed.

“This bill, when passed, will deepen the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and elevate all of us to new heights,” I thought.

The pride I felt for our Indigenous leaders, grand chiefs Ed John, Stewart Philips, Terry Teegee and Cheryl Cashmere was immeasurable as I listened to them speak to the bill.

My respect for Premier John Horgan, the Honorable Scott Fraser and BC Liberal Party leader Andrew Wilkinson and all MLA’s was deepened.

Much work will be required following the passage of the bill. Let us all stay the course.

Learn more about UNDRIP here.  

Statement on B.C. government’s legislation to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Oct 24, 2019

The moral and legal persuasion of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is ultimately strengthened by the legislative framework passed by the B.C. government today.

This is one of the most significant human rights milestones achieved for Indigenous peoples by any government in the world. B.C. has set a legislative precedent that can guide the way forward for all provinces across this country as well as at the federal level for meaningful recognition and engagement.

This legislation will allow us to recognize the constitutional and human rights of Indigenous people. At the same time, it will be a beacon for all of us to advance reconciliation as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The bill will create a foundational pillar for deepened inclusion and equality for all without diminishing the same for all others.

The UN Declaration does not create new rights. It upholds the same human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law. This is something we should all aspire to and be proud of.

Over time the UN declaration will be harmonized with provincial law that will serve the needs of British Columbians. The B.C. government should be applauded for its extraordinary courage for taking this giant step for our society.

For more information, see our news release here.  

Meet Our Summer Interns!

Jul 3, 2019

This summer, four interns have joined our RC team. With their hard work and dedication, we are excited about their engagement in our reconciliation work. Meet our incredible Summer interns! 

Rodman Joseph

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Ancestry: Kwakwakaʼwakw

Hometown:  Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

Why did you want to intern at Reconciliation Canada?

Working in Indigenous Relations has always been a passion for me. I have already worked for the BC Region Department of Indigenous Services and wanted to learn more about indigenous relations from the private sector.

What does reconciliation mean to you?

Reconciliation means understanding both sides and using that understanding to move forward in unison. Two parties cant move towards a brighter future without knowing where to go.

What do you hope to accomplish this summer?

I hope to better learn how to stream line social media plans so that anyone can use them.

How does reconciliation play into your future plans?

As an indigenous person who is Canadian, being able to bridge these two previously separate identities, I hope that my children will be able to be proud of both identities and be an indigenous Canadian.

Siera Stonechild

Community Engagement Coordinator

Ancestry: Cree

Hometown: Red Deer, Alberta

Why did you want to intern at Reconciliation Canada?

I feel that its interest in education Canadians about their historical and current relationships with Indigenous people, and their social outreach spoke to me in a way that other places did not. The cultural benefits of working with an Indigenous-led organization also interested me. I felt that this was the best position for me to grow in professionally and personally.

What does reconciliation mean to you?

Reconciliation means the bringing of truths to light in order to face them together. The general Canadian historical narrative conveys the subjugation and erasure of Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation helps integrate our history with Canada’s in order to create a complete history that will bring Canadians closer together through Indigenous inclusion. Reconciliation means the facing of truths for the building and benefit of a larger community.

What do you hope to accomplish this summer?

I hope to gain the hard skills of an event coordinator and community outreach person. I also hope to grow on a personal level through learning about Reconciliation Canada’s social endeavours to discover how best to support marginalized communities in Canada.

How does reconciliation play into your future plans?

My long-term goal is to work to support urban Indigenous communities in order to better their quality of life. I am not a social worker; however, I hope to work with these communities as a lawyer in order to develop policies that will protect Indigenous ways of life in urban settings. Reconciliation will assist me through working with Indigenous peoples in conjunction with the non-indigenous communities that they are also a part of. This way policy changes will also take into account a city’s diverse population and joint-community needs.

Yeram Ko

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Ancestry: Korean

Hometown: Seoul, Korea

Why did you want to intern at Reconciliation Canada?

Ever since I’ve learned about the residential schools at school I’ve wanted to be involved in the community. I was deeply inspired by Chief Joseph’s thoughts on the importance of truth and reconciliation. I’m amazed and inspired by the passion and spirituality that exists in Reconciliation Canada. It is a blessing to work with others with such positive energy.

What does reconciliation mean to you?

I think reconciliation isn’t something that you achieve but is something that’s an ongoing process.  To me, reconciliation is about finding peace within yourself by acknowledging what happened in the past and having the willingness to move forward to make a better future for the next generation.

What do you hope to accomplish this summer?

As a newcomer at Vancouver, I feel committed to learning more about the first people and land that we are blessed to live on. My goal is to learn more about Indigenous worldviews, knowledge and ways of teaching to share with people.

How does reconciliation play into your future plans?

I think reconciliation plays many aspects of our daily lives, especially the way how I view the world. Through reconciliation, I hope that my lenses expand regarding how to live with others and how to respect one another.

Tate Chernen

Community Engagement Coordinator

Ancestry: Métis, Russian, Irish

Hometown: Chandler, Arizona & Vancouver, British Columbia

Why did you want to intern at Reconciliation Canada?

I wanted to intern at Reconciliation Canada because they showed me love and support in a time of need and it inspired me to join them in the work they do.

What does reconciliation mean to you?

To me reconciliation is love and empathy in harmony to create a future where everyone is supported and those who are in pain have healing.

What do you hope to accomplish this summer?

This summer I hope to develop an educational program that addresses hate crime and implicit biases within communities. I want to grow as an Indigenous person and learn more about my ancestry.

How does reconciliation play into your future plans?

Reconciliation is a force that can be applied to all aspects of life. I can bring it into everything that I do, whether that be business, art, and basic human connection. I can live with the passion to bring those who are suffering up to the same level as those who aren’t. When creating this plan over summer I hope to include reconciliation, a key part to a world of acceptance and healing.

Interview with our partner – West Van Memorial Library

Jun 20, 2019

We are thrilled to announce that the West Van Memorial Library was recently awarded the Building Better Communities Award by the British Columbia Library Association. The West Van Memorial Library has been continuously working with us to expand the community’s understanding of local Indigenous history and Canada’s role in truth and reconciliation.

We had the opportunity to hear from Pat Cumming, Head of Customer & Community Experience about her engagement in reconciliation.

Chief Stephen Augustine

What does reconciliation mean to you?

Reconciliation takes many forms – Nation to Nation, organizational and personal. At the Library, we aim to support community members in their personal journeys towards learning about a history that was hidden for many years, and its ongoing impacts in Indigenous communities. In many respects, the truth comes before reconciliation – it’s important for people to learn historical truths as well as the truth about the resilience and rich culture of Indigenous Peoples that is evident today. It’s also important that individuals have the opportunity to define reconciliation in a way that reflects their personal values. For me, reconciliation is a journey of continuous learning which leads to actions, large and small, that contribute to a future where the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples is based on mutual respect.


How did you first get involved in reconciliation?

The Honouring Reconciliation: Hearing the Truth initiative began with a Canada 150 grant. From the outset, however, it was clear that this was not a project but rather the development of an ongoing practice that would continue well beyond the grant time frame. It was also clear that it would be necessary to build and cultivate relationships with Indigenous organizations and the local Squamish Nation. We were very fortunate that Reconciliation Canada supported and partnered with us from the outset.


What is your vision for reconciliation, on a personal level and organizational level?

On an organizational level, our vision is to view everything that we do through the lens of reconciliation. This means decolonizing our practices where possible, offering programming and collections that represent Indigenous perspectives and consulting with local First Nations in our planning. On a personal level, this journey has been transformational. In my perfect world, stereotypes would be challenged at every turn, all Canadians would have the opportunity to learn about and acknowledge the hardship and challenges that our history has imposed on Indigenous Peoples and everyone would commit to a better future through reconciliation. I recognize that we have a long way to go but we can start by building respectful relationships.


What do you wish you had known at the start of this journey?

The dark parts of history and the legacy of residential schools have been brought to light in recent years and most people have a basic awareness of the struggles and challenges that resulted from destructive policies and practices. What we discovered as we went further in our learning is the fierce strength and resilience that Indigenous Peoples have exhibited in the face of incredible challenges. Much was lost but much was retained through sheer determination and bold resistance. It would have been helpful to have had that perspective from the outset.


What advice do you have for Canadians looking to join the movement?

Listen and read. Learn everything that you can. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action is a good starting point. Be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint. Many of us are hardwired to jump to action and to fix problems. Resist that urge and commit to acknowledgment, respect and building positive relationships that can lead to real change. Enjoy the journey and the gifts of the people you meet along the way. We are so grateful for the generosity, warmth, and wisdom of the people we have worked with.


What advice do you have for organizations across Canada to get started or to stay motivated?

There are a number of steps that organizations can take and a number of factors that contribute to success and motivation. Some of the most important things are:

  • Ensure that there is a commitment from organizational leadership
  • Provide multiple learning opportunities for staff at all levels of the organization so that everyone feels that they have a role to play in reconciliation
  • Allow sufficient time for the learning and reflection
  • Attend local Indigenous cultural events
  • Take time to build relationships with local First Nations before taking action
  • Engage with members of the local Indigenous community and include their perspectives when planning and implementing initiatives
  • Know your local context. Learn about the protocols that are in place in the territories where you operate and what is important to the First Nations people who live there.
  • Be flexible with timing, processes, and procedures when possible
  • Be humble, be respectful, be brave



International Women’s Day 2019: #BalanceforBetter

Mar 8, 2019

“I was taught to always hold true to your core values and principles and to act with integrity…I come from a long line of matriarchs, and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House. This is who I am and this is who I always will be.”
-Jody Wilson-Raybould


Today is International Women’s Day – this year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, is an important recognition and reminder that gender balance is essential for communities and economies to thrive.

We honour and uphold the place of women as leaders, and as pillars of strength and resilience within our families, communities and throughout society. Without a doubt, women play an invaluable role in the growth and success of the reconciliation movement.

Today and every day, we hold up our hands in respect, gratitude and love to all the women in our lives. We continue to hope for and work towards a reality where our mothers, daughters and sisters are honoured, valued and treated as equals.

Through our work, we remain committed to honouring and upholding their innate strength and resilience. We look forward to continuing this important work through our upcoming events and initiatives – please stay tuned for updates in the coming months to see what we’re up to and how you can get involved.

Cultural Teachings: Welcome to Territory & Land Acknowledgments

Feb 4, 2019

Written by Tim Manuel, Cultural Advisor and Public Engagement Lead

Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have used formal protocol to acknowledge their surroundings, which is meant to honour their spiritual beliefs. This acknowledgment is often spoken in their own language. Indigenous people believed and understood that they are only one aspect in the great diversity of life on the land. They use a common expression such as “all my relations” – words that resemble an all-encompassing meaning – when acknowledging the people of the land, such as tqeltkúkwpi7 (Secwepemc version of Great Spirit). Their acknowledgement includes or specifies water, ancestors, animals and plant life, all of which are considered to be alive and therefore having a “spirit.”

Indigenous ancestors knew and believed that everything in nature is connected, that nothing exists in the environment for itself as everyone and everything depends on one other for survival. They are simply recognizing the importance of these spirits and connections in the great cycle of life. Everything Indigenous people need for survival, whether it be food or shelter, comes from the land. Indigenous people believe that they are a part of the land and it is a part of them – this forms a basis of their culture and identity. Indigenous people formally announce their intention of being on the land as though they were to speak to the ancestors, including during an acknowledgement of territory or a formal welcome.

Each Indigenous nation will have different stories to share as well as unique teachings from their ancestors from when they travelled on the land or by water. Some stories were of unity or conflict between nations, while some were regarding land or resources. During the time when travelling was a necessity, one of the most important reasons to do so was to trade goods as part of participating in the traditional economy and to establish relationships between neighbouring nations. These times are important to note because Indigenous peoples believed there is strength in unity, which is a principle element of traditional governance. There were natural boundary markers such as rivers, mountains or mythological places, which indicated to Indigenous people which territory they were on or passing through.

When arriving into another Indigenous territory, they would acknowledge being a visitor to the area: First by acknowledging the ancestors and, if there were blood ties (such as through kin or through marriage), those would be mentioned. If there were no kinship ties, then a meeting with the leadership would happen to announce one’s intent.

During an acknowledgement of the land/territory, the visitor first announces themselves by introduction, which also includes any family ties. Second, they acknowledge they are a visitor/settler and speak about their intention of being there. And lastly, they proceed to acknowledge the territory in which they stand. This helps with understanding that there are protocols in place that must be followed, mostly based on keeping good relationships and respect between people.

Meanwhile, a territorial welcome is from a Chief/political representative/elder or someone who is a descendent of the ancestral lands upon which the event is being held. This should be done with the understanding between the person and the event organizer prior to the event taking place. The importance of following this protocol is to communicate intent and show respect to the spirit of the land.

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