Reconciliation through awareness on National Aboriginal Day

History was made last month when a Talking Stick from the Songhees First Nation was presented to our Speaker of the Legislature

John RustadMinister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation


VICTORIA – History was made last month when a Talking Stick from the Songhees First Nation was presented to our Speaker of the Legislature, the Honourable Linda Reid. This was an important example of the B.C. government’s commitment to reconciliation and an embodiment of what reconciliation means.

The Talking Stick is a powerful symbol of consensus-style governance. It commands respect for free speech, something that is core to our democracy. With the Talking Stick, a speaker has the freedom and power to say what is in his or her heart, and it emphasizes the importance of listening.

The Talking Stick also represents a change in the way we recognize First Nations history and culture, and highlights the need to be collaborative and partners in the work we do. It is a powerful reminder that First Nations and the need for reconciliation should always be respected.

On June 21, we marked the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day. It’s an opportunity to continue to build understanding, raise awareness and celebrate the successes of Aboriginal people and communities.

I want to emphasize the importance of reconciliation through awareness. By participating in National Aboriginal Day events, we can all take an important step in fostering collaboration and embracing reconciliation.

Our government has been working in partnership with First Nations and Aboriginal leaders on reconciliation for well over a decade, and the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 report has energized this work across the country. The report called for actions to be taken by governments and institutions, calls to action we take seriously as we work to create a culture of awareness in the province.

Reconciliation comes in many forms. To me, reconciliation means to respect, to be aware and to acknowledge each other as equals. It’s about teaching our children about their past, and it’s about creating understanding and better opportunities for Aboriginal people.

It may be the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day but we still have work today to achieve equality for Aboriginal people in Canada.

I’m proud of the work we have already started in British Columbia, developing revenue-sharing agreements, economic partnerships, education improvements and skills-training initiatives that help to rebuild First Nations communities that had been left out of opportunity for far too long.

The Aboriginal youth demographic is the fastest growing in B.C. with more than half of the population under the age of 25. Our youth is our future, and we need to establish a collaborative environment, one that will be vital to long-term collaboration.

Participation in National Aboriginal Day events will spark conversations, and conversations spark understanding. It is my hope they will be the catalyst for better awareness. I encourage all British Columbians to do their part, attend a National Aboriginal Day event in your community.


Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read