Government Commitments

Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation

British Columbia commits to reconciliation with new action plan

May 8, 2024

First Peoples Law Report: Vernon Matters – The province of B.C. will be undertaking several reconciliation actions in the government building.

B.C.’s new Reconciliation Action Plan outlines efforts to address historical injustices and ways to build new relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

“As Speaker, it’s my priority to ensure every person who visits the Parliament Buildings feels they are welcome, and that they belong here. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is an essential part of this work,” Raj Chouhan, Speaker of the legislative assembly, stated.

“It has been my honour to begin building a new relationship with First Nations leaders, both in Victoria and throughout the province – and to acknowledge that true reconciliation is not achieved through a single act, but rather through ongoing commitment and concerted effort.”

The plan, based on work by the Speaker’s Indigenous Reconciliation Advisory Committee (SIRAC), includes five commitments and seven initial actions, all of which were based on input from First Nations leaders and feedback received through engagement and outreach efforts.

  • UNDERSTANDING: Fostering the understanding of the historical role and actions of the Legislative Assembly and its role in reconciliation
    • Deliver an official apology, by the Speaker on behalf of the Legislative Assembly, to First Nations across British Columbia
  • EDUCATION: Provide educational opportunities and resources to elected officials and staff to enhance the understanding of Indigenous history and contemporary issues
    • Offer core learning to all Members (of the Legislative Assembly) and staff on Indigenous histories and cultures, contemporary Indigenous issues, and effectively working with and representing First Nations
    • Include reconciliation resources in the orientation program for Members of the 43rd Parliament, including on the Legislative Assembly’s committment to reconciliation and additional resources for learning about, and strengthening relationships with, Indigenous Peoples
  • INCLUSION: Review the rules, practices and symbols of the Legislative Assembly to incorporate Indigenous cultures and participation
    • Seek opportunities to incorporate Indigenous customs and cultures into the rules, practices and symbols of the Legislative Assembly
    • Develop and implement consistent practices to provide for the participation of Indigenous representatives in Legislative Assembly ceremonies and proceedings
  • REPRESENTATION: Ensure Indigenous cultures are reflected in the Parliament Buildings and throughout the Legislative Precinct
    • Initiate a review of all public spaces and visitor programming to determine how and where Indigenous stories can be represented
  • COMMEMORATION: Design and construct a monument in recognition of Indian Residential School survivors and the children who were lost to their families and communities
    • Develop a project plan for a Memorial Garden, in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, including the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and Songhees and Esquimalt Nations

“I am incredibly pleased to see the legislative assembly commit to taking bold action and building a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples across British Columbia through tabling the Reconciliation Action Plan,” Taylor Baker, a member of the SIRAC, said.

“I commend the Speaker for taking the time to visit First Nations communities across the province to learn about their histories and perspectives, and then apply those learnings to develop a coherent plan of action that will lead to more inclusivity of Indigenous Peoples in and around the legislative assembly.”

The Reconciliation Action Plan document noted the details on implementation of the five commitments and seven initial actions will be developed based on continued engagement. The same process will also be used for developing any future actions the Legislative Assembly wishes to pursue as part of its reconciliation efforts.

“We applaud the Speaker for his proactive approach in spearheading the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, an institution deeply intertwined with colonial legacies,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said.

“Throughout history, the relationship between First Nations and the legislative assembly has been marked by racism, denial, and subsequent discord. We look forward to the implementation of the Reconciliation Action Plan by all members of the legislative assembly in full alignment with the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and grounded in mutual respect, collaboration, and partnership.”

The province added the Reconciliation Action Plan is the first document of its kind released by a Canadian parliamentary institution.

by Liam Verster