British Columbia

Inaugural B.C. reconciliation award presented to 9 individuals, organizations

The British Columbia Reconciliation Award is given to British Columbians that have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous people.

Recipients include playwright Corey Payette, scientist David Suzuki and UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

Children of God writer and director, Corey Payette, is one of the recipients of the first British Columbia Reconciliation Award. (Mique'l Dangeli)

Six individuals and three organizations have been recognized for their work around reconciliation with the inaugural British Columbia Reconciliation Award. 

The new award, announced in November, goes to British Columbians who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect, and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous people.

It was founded by former lieutenant-governor Steven Lewis Point, and the winners were determined by a committee including Indigenous elders and leaders.

Corey Payette, a playwright, actor, and director, was among this year's winners. 

"It's a great honour," Payette told Michelle Eliot, guest host of The Early Edition. 

"For me, it recognizes the work that me and so many of my Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaborators have been working towards over the last 10 years. It says to me that we're headed down the right road and we are doing the right things to reach people and to make change in our community."

Other individual winners include Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, David Suzuki, Corporal Christopher Voller, Dawn Drummond and Xele'milh-Doris Paul. 

Carrier Sekani Family Services, Marine Plan Partnership of the North Pacific Coast and xaȼqanaǂ ʔitkiniǂ (Many Ways of Doing the Same Thing) Research Team are the three organizations to receive the award. 

"Being part of establishing the reconciliation award program and serving on the inaugural selection committee has been heart-warming and empowering. Reviewing all the nominations has shown me the power of reconciliation and how it can change people and communities' lives for the better," said B.C. Achievement Foundation board member Kekinusuqs, Dr. Judith Sayers. 

"It shows we can live together and achieve great things if there are willing people working towards a vision of reconciliation."

For Payette, reconciliation means listening to people who have been historically silenced for generations, and changing your view about what it means to live on this land. 

Payette's musical, Children of God, has been seen by almost 50,000 people, and after each show, the audience gathers to listen to stories from survivors and other audience members. Each conversation is unique, combining the voices of those who have faced discrimination with experiences from non-Indigenous people.

"To have those two voices in the room, sharing space together, that, I believe, is how you create better relationships and ultimately is how we get to a place where we can truly understand each other better and then repair some of those relationships for the next generation," Payette said. 

"It's been an unbelievably profound experience."

To hear Corey Payette's interview on CBC's The Early Edition, click here: 

Corey Payette speaks with Michelle Eliot about recognition for his play, Children of God. 6:44


With files from The Early Edition