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The walls of Government House in Victoria have a meaningful new addition.
Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and T'esóts'en, Patrick Kelly, a member of the award selection committee, installed two canoe paddles in honour of the 2021 and 2022 British Columbia Reconciliation Award recipients.
The installation also marks the call for nominations for the 2023 awards.
The award draws inspiration from the work of Steven Point, Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl, 28th lieutenant governor of BC, and a founder of the award.
His hand-carved red cedar canoe, Shxwtitostel, currently on display at the BC Parliament Buildings, was created as a symbol of reconciliation.
It symbolizes the understanding that "we are all in the same canoe" and must "paddle together" to move forward.
Each year, individuals, groups and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to furthering reconciliation— or inspired others to continue reconciliation efforts—are recognized.
The inaugural ceremony for the 2021 and 2022 recipients will take place at Government House in Victoria in the new year.
"Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is about righting past wrongs," said Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers from Hupacasath Nation and BC Achievement Foundation board member.
"In order for it to be true reconciliation, Indigenous Peoples must define what reconciliation is and what is needed to move forward. Bridging the gap between the two worlds through the reconciliation efforts of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people builds the relationships needed for the journey.”
In honour of this legacy, each years' recipients receive a print of a canoe paddle designed by the Emerging Artist recipient of the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art.
The 2021 paddle was created by Kwakwaka'wakw artist Cole Speck, and the 2022 paddle was created by Dene and Carrier beader Crystal Behn.
An ongoing series of BC Reconciliation Award paddles will be displayed in Government House.
"As we launch the third year of the British Columbia Reconciliation Award, the image of the paddles resonates stronger than ever," Austin said. "It is through combined effort that paddles move a canoe forward. I see this united strength in our past recipients and look forward to witnessing it in the 2023 nominations.”
The nomination period for the awards will be open from Nov. 22, 2022, until Jan. 20, 2023.
To nominate someone for the next round of awards, click here.