We stand in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq community of Nova Scotia

Oct 17, 2020

Reconciliation Canada stands with the Mi’kmaq People who are lawfully trying to exercise their inherent right to fish as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada 21 years ago.

Reconciliation Canada is horrified by the racial tension rising on the shores of Nova Scotia over the lobster fishery. It is inexcusable that the Mi’kmaq People still cannot exercise their inherent right to fish as affirmed in the landmark supreme court ruling in the case of Donald Marshall Jr.. The ruling affirmed that Mi’kmaq had the right to earn a moderate living from the fishery.

We are a nation that cherishes the rule of law. But we also stand proudly on the premise that this law is entrenched solidly on the redeeming notions of justice and equality.

So, why are we here in this moment confronted with signs of hatred, violence and vigilantism?

Why is the verdict of our highest court in the land not applied, not honoured? Twenty-one years is far too long. We have all failed the Mi’kmaq.

Our relationship, Indigenous and non-indigenous, is on trial once again, just as it was on the Wetsuwaten stand-off.

Reconciliation Canada calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to engage his high office’s influence to bring all the parties together to seek resolution mutually. To call for peace and reconciliation that creates a pathway forward that is inclusive and shares prosperity.

We call on the Minister of Fisheries and the Department of Fisheries to avail all of its resources and expertise to expedite a process that will lead to mutual agreement and benefit.

To the RCMP, keep the peace and protect and serve.

To all others, call for a peaceful and just solution to this precarious conflict.

Let us try to advance reconciliation. Namwayut- We are all one.

Statement on Multiculturalism Day

Jun 26, 2020

June 27th is Multiculturalism Day, a day that officially marks Canada’s commitment to celebrate the cultural and racial diversity that continues to flourish within our society. 

As we stand side by side to make our vision of a vibrant and inclusive Canada a reality, this day serves as an important reminder that we must unite as one and honour our differences.   

We acknowledge that not everyone experiences society in the same way.  We must respect the diverse, cultural contributions and unique gifts that each and every person brings to our land. Together we must educate ourselves and engage in collective dialogue to work towards building a multicultural world; our future depends on it.

‘Namwayut – We Are All One.

A message from Chief Joseph regarding the current dialogue on racial injustice

Jun 9, 2020

Our Ambassador Chief Robert Joseph shared the following statement regarding the current dialogue on racial injustice:

To everyone who has walked with us, worked with us, supported us, partnered with us, now is a time to take action.

People are standing up against the injustice of the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. There are countless stories in Canada as well.

Systemic racism is not new. What’s new, is it is being filmed on smartphones and shared on social media. It’s being brought to light like never before.

See something, say something.

Contact your local, provincial, federal leaders and tell them, it’s not ok to treat people differently because of race. Have hard conversations with your family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and bosses. Racism has to end. It’s time to get on the right side of history. It’s time to embrace our common humanity like never before.

We cannot afford to stand silently any longer.

Martin Luther King Jr. said: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Now is the time to embrace and live out: Namwayut – We Are All One

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.

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.  

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.

Statement on the Unist’ot’en Camp in Wet’suwet’en Territory

Jan 8, 2019

Reconciliation Canada is deeply concerned over what took place yesterday in the Unist’ot’en Camp on Wet’suwet’en Territory: heavily armed RCMP tactical squads overrunning peaceful and unarmed land defenders.

This event propagates the long-standing practice of using force, based upon a legal system that once enabled the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.

There must be better ways and different approaches to resolving conflict.

Throughout the history of this country, we have applied the same old approaches that result in the same old outcomes.

In this time of reconciliation, we must all do better as this may very well be our last chance – our final opportunity – to become the country that we so deeply desire to be: a country that is truly equal, just and compassionate.

Without change, there can be no reconciliation.

Our country – the RCMP, the federal government, the provincial government, and the courts included – must get serious about reconciliation and live up to our common values and ideals.

If we cannot change now, then this country may never change.

We must – especially in times of conflict and disagreement – recognize our common humanity and common desire for a better country.

Statement on the attack in the Tree of Life Synagogue

Oct 30, 2018

Our thoughts, prayers and love go out to all the family and friends of the 11 sacred lives taken so ruthlessly at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

What occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 is an expression of hatred in its most violent form. These unspeakable acts must stop. We must all stand up to and speak out against anti-Semitism, and against prejudice and discrimination.

Now more than ever, we must uphold our shared values of humanity, dignity, equality, hope and peace. Let us honour the courage of those whose lives were taken by being the purveyors of love.

Statement on the Exoneration of Tsilhqot’in Chiefs

Mar 27, 2018

Reconciliation Canada honours the memory of the six courageous Tsilhqot’in Chiefs exonerated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons yesterday, March 26, 2018.

These courageous Chiefs were wrongfully hanged some 150 years ago for defending their homelands from encroachment. Amid what is referred to as the Tsilhqot’in War, these Chiefs acted in what they believed to be a defense of their territories and sovereignty.

The colonial authorities acknowledged this by extending an invitation to the Chiefs to engage in peace talks. The Chiefs agreed to the peace talks, but were instead imprisoned, tried and hanged.

History has a way of baring the truth and, thus, the exoneration. These acts can become pillars and foundations for discovering peace, harmony and reconciliation. The exoneration holds huge promise for our pluralistic society.

We urge all Canadians to learn more about our shared history and about each other.

The Tsilhqot’in are open to new ways forward with all Canadians. The recent Surpeme Court of Canada decision granting them 1,700 square kilometers of land only emboldens their desire to create new relationships through a lens of Reconciliation based on mutual respect and trust.

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