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City of Vancouver proclaims a Year of Reconciliation

June 20 2013

Vancouver’s Year of Reconciliation is about building a common future together, one that acknowledges the historical impacts that have shaped the experiences of Aboriginal peoples across Canada - Mayor Gregor Robertson

Year of Reconciliation logo

The City of Vancouver is the first municipality in Canada to proclaim June 21, 2013 to June 20, 2014 as the Year of Reconciliation.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will present the proclamation on behalf of Council to Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, on the eve of National Aboriginal Day, at a summit at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in downtown Vancouver on June 20, 2013.

The summit will be attended by cross-cultural groups, and includes speeches and presentations from Mayor Robertson, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, representatives from the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, the First Nations Leadership Council, and the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council.

Helping all cultures within our community move forward with shared understanding and respect

In the spirit and tradition of dialogue and storytelling, which are an important part of Aboriginal culture and heritage, summit delegates will also participate in an afternoon of Engaged City dialogue that will help inform the Mayor and the City about important considerations that will guide the next steps in Vancouver’s goal to become the world’s first City of Reconciliation.

“Vancouver’s Year of Reconciliation is about building a common future together, one that acknowledges the historical impacts that have shaped the experiences of Aboriginal peoples across Canada,” explained Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We are supporting Reconciliation Canada as a way to help all cultures within our community develop new relationships, heal from the past, and move forward with shared understanding and respect.”

A year-long initiative featuring gatherings, dialogue, public education, and public and arts programs

The City of Vancouver is embracing reconciliation through a year-long initiative that includes a series of gatherings, intercultural dialogue and storytelling workshops, public education, and cultural and arts programs as ways to mend the past, build shared understanding, and to create a legacy for meaningful change in society.

There are a host of City programs in the works that connect to Reconciliation. These include Aboriginal components within the Stanley Park 125 celebrations, the creation of a reconciliation legacy carving centre at Britannia Park, and the development of a Newcomer’s Guide to Aboriginal Communities, Elders and Arts program.

Programming will also be included through the Vancouver Public Library’s (VPL) dialogue sessions, author readings and documentaries, including a dedicated series with a British Columbia focus. VPL is re-energizing its Aboriginal Storyteller in Residence program, which returns later this year with a new storyteller who will share the tradition and craft in free workshops and sessions.  

“Reconciliation is an opportunity for all Canadians to renew relationships, based on a shared understanding of our histories and our cultures and walk a path together for a shared tomorrow. To ‘reconcile’ is to weave a stronger and more vibrant social fabric, supported by the unique and diverse strengths of Canadians and their communities,” said Chief Dr. Robert Joseph.

Four major events coming up in September

Reconciliation Canada will host four major events to help advance the work of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) BC National Event in Vancouver this coming September. They include:

  • Lighting the Flame of Reconciliation on September 16. A sacred fire will be lit to symbolize the commencement of the Week for Reconciliation;
  • All Nations Canoe Gathering on September 17 from Kits Point to the Olympic Village along False Creek, to highlight traditional ceremonies and welcome all Nations to Coast Salish lands;
  • A Walk for Reconciliation on September 22 that will bring people from all of Canada’s many cultures to walk a path together in a shared commitment to reconciliation.
  • A New Way Forward Ceremony will follow the Walk at Creekside Park on September 22, a call to action to develop future relationships between Aborginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

About residential schools in Canada

Residential schools in Canada date back to the 1870s. Over 130 residential schools were located across the country, with the last school closing in 1996. During this period, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were removed from their families and placed in these schools. Many were forbidden to speak their language and denied their culture. It is estimated that more than 80,000 former students are living today. The ongoing impact of residential schools has been felt through several generations.

Founded in 2012, Reconciliation Canada is building new relationships between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians, relationships built on a foundation of openness, dignity, understanding and hope. Reconciliation Canada is engaging people from every part of Canadian society in an open and honest conversation about our diverse histories and experiences in order to build resilient, sustainable communities.

Get more information about the Year of Reconciliation

Get more information on upcoming Year of Reconciliation events and register for the Walk for Reconciliation:

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Learn more about this initiative

Year of Reconciliation

Year of Reconciliation

In partnership with Reconciliation Canada, the City supported a Year of Reconciliation by acknowledging the negative cultural impacts and stereotypes that resulted from Canada’s residential school system.