Lieutenant Governor Austin
(Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin/Twitter)

A new provincial award launched on Thursday is seeking to honour those who lead the cause of Indigenous reconciliation in British Columbia.

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award is a joint effort between the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and the BC Achievement Foundation.

It recognizes individuals, groups, and organizations who demonstrate exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

“I am deeply honoured for this opportunity to recognize the exemplary individuals and organizations who advance reconciliation in our province,” Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin said in a statement.

“Reconciliation must take root in our hearts, within families, between generations and throughout our communities.”

Nominations for the award are now open online through the BC Achievement Foundation’s website.

Two signed testimonials are required for the nomination form, which also asks for specific information on what work the nominee has done to advance reconciliation and to positively impact the lives of Indigenous youth or elders.

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award was partly inspired by the artistic work of Steven Point, the first Indigenous Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Point donated his hand-carved and hand-painted red cedar canoe, Shxwtitostel, to the B.C. Parliament Buildings as a symbol of reconciliation.

According to Point, Shxwtitostel shows how British Columbians “are all in the same canoe” and must “paddle together” to move forward.

“It is a very proud moment for me to witness the launch of the British Columbia Reconciliation Award,” said Point.

“Our world and its issues are not apart from us, but rather are a part of who we are. We must not stand by and observe the world, but rather take steps to bring positive change.”

Committee members for selection of the British Columbia Reconciliation Award will include Indigenous Elders, B.C. First Nations leadership and government partners.

The nomination period will be open until Jan. 15, 2021.

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