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Reconciliation and the ACRD

Reconciliation and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District
Reconciliation Canada is the vision of Dr. Robert Joseph, Gwawaenuk Tribal Elder. This charitable project is a collaboration between the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) and Tides Canada Initiatives Society (TCI). Reconciliation Canada aims to revitalize the relationships between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians . This vision is achieved through the hosting of public events and activities that inspire a groundswell of Canadians of all ages, faiths and cultures to share stories of resilience and create a new way forward that builds a stronger Canada for all.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was born of the federal Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) in 2008, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history in which former residential school students took the federal government and the churches to court. Their cases formed the IRSSA, and part of that agreement called for the establishment of the TRC.

The TRC was extended a budget of $60-million over five years (2008 to 2013) to prepare comprehensive historical reporting on residential schools, gather statements from survivors, fund and host national events in different regions across Canada, along with other key objectives described on their website. Their mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened, and document the accounts of anyone directly affected by residential schools.

Reconciliation Canada initiatives uphold and advance the healing work of the TRC through a series of events that align with the TRC's national event in September. The aim is to encourage all British Columbians to participate in the process of reconciliation.

Reconciliation Canada held a Community Engagement Workshop within the Alberni Valley on May 15 and 16. It was attended by community leaders, survivors and others impacted by Indian Residential Schools (IRS) from across the province. One of the actions from the workshop was to request all local governments within the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to declare 2013 as the year of Reconciliation and undertake further actions to inform themselves and their constituents about reconciliation and the impact of IRS within the region.

The Board of Directors of the ACRD adopted the resolution and made a commitment to become further engaged in the process of reconciliation as individuals and as a Board of Directors. Subsequently they invited Dr. Robert Joseph to attend a meeting of local government leaders and senior staff. This was held Monday June 17 in Port Alberni at the meeting facilities at Chances Rim Rock.

The Regional Directors took the cause of reconciliation to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) annual convention in September 2013, with the request that members be made aware of the reconciliation events occurring during the same week in Vancouver and UBCM members make an effort to attend the events. Subsequently UBCM, held a workshop including Dr. Robert Joseph and the ACRD Director representing Huu-ay-aht John Jack and UBCM adopted its own resolution declaring the year of reconciliation.

Meanwhile the regional district has adopted the practice of recognizing the traditional territories where it conducts its meetings and has met with the Port Alberni Friendship Center and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council to discuss ongoing acts toward reconciliation. There are a number of initiatives the board is exploring including the identification of first nations place names within its current and future parks and facilities.

The Regional Board is exploring additional opportunities to become further educated and engaged and will continue the dialogue with its partners within the ACRD.