Friday, February 23, 2024

Vancouver Islanders torn on how to navigate reconciliation’s path forward


A recent survey has determined that Vancouver Island and British Columbia are torn on the path to reconciliation for the province’s Indigenous population — specifically when it comes to economic reconciliation.

Reconciliation is the work to restore relations with a person or group who have been wronged and in the context of BC and Canada, it is meant to be a journey toward Indigenous Canadians having their rights and First Nations recognized by all. 

The First Peoples of Canada were colonized, had their sacred lands stripped away, were moved to areas that were difficult to live off of, had their children taken from them and through the residential schooling system, had much of their culture and language lost to time. 

Recently, a Research Co. survey found that some, but not all British Columbians are attempting to reconcile with the First Nations throughout the province, but how to go about it is still up in the air. 

On Vancouver Island, 65% of respondents said they agree with reconciliation as a concept, while 21% disagreed and 14% were unsure of their stance. 

When it comes to economic reconciliation — the process of making economic amends for historical injustices to Indigenous Peoples — only 43% agreed it is necessary, while 39% disagree and 18% were undecided.

The survey results show mixed responses when it comes to who the onus for economic reconciliation should fall. 

According to this survey, 24% of Vancouver Islanders say the federal government is already doing too much for economic reconciliation and 28% say they need to do more. 

When it comes to the provincial government, 22% say they are doing too much while 27% say there is more to be done. 

As far as the municipal government’s role in economic reconciliation, 17% said too much was being done and 30% said more could be accomplished. 

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Self-determination is the right of Indigenous people to determine their political status and freely pursue their own cultural development. This includes their right to do with their wealth and natural resources however they choose. 

Meanwhile, self-government grants Indigenous communities law-making authority in governance and economic development. These laws operate in harmony with existing federal and provincial laws.

With these two concepts, 56% of Vancouver Islanders believe that Indigenous communities should have the right to self determination, while only 50% believe they should be permitted to self-govern. 

In terms of specific actions to aid in BC’s reconciliation journey, the survey gauged respondents’ feelings toward a number of different tangible things that could be done. 

They were asked if they would want to have an advisory committee established to aid the BC Legislative Assembly in making policies that impact Indigenous communities. To this, 51% agreed, 25% disagreed and 24% were unsure.

When asked if Indigenous communities should have a say in what housing initiatives take place on their land, 70% agreed, while 18% disagreed and 12% were unsure. 

A majority of 69% also agreed that on Vancouver Island, more should be done in providing education and resources to Indigenous British Columbians. 

What do you believe on the topic of reconciliation? What next steps would you want to see made in your community or the province as a whole? Let us know in the comments!

Curtis Blandy

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