Big changes are happening to the Royal BC Museum. The 135-year-old institution announced today it will begin a process of decolonization to ensure the museum is a welcoming place for everyone.
"This is necessary to begin the long-term work of creating new narratives that include under-represented voices and reflect the lived experiences and contemporary stories of people in BC,” acting CEO Daniel Muzyka said in a news release. The current exhibits will remain until Dec. 31, with a phased approach to updating galleries beginning in 2022.
Last week, the museum announced another exciting development as the province selected three firms to participate in the next phase of design and construction proposals for a new building in Colwood. Chamber Champions Kinetic Construction and Knappett Projects Inc. are bidding on the project to potentially partner with RBCM.
The new facility will house RBCM’s collections and research department, as well as the BC Archives.
Sept. 30 is National Truth and Reconciliation Day — a time to reflect on the history of residential schools and to listen with purpose to the stories of our Indigenous friends and neighbours.
Municipalities across Greater Victoria are hosting events to commemorate and celebrate indigenous voices, including:
The City of Victoria will be hosting the Xe xe Smun' eem-Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony from noon to 2:30 pm at Centennial Square. The event will include Indigenous performances, a minute of silence, and guest speakers sharing their personal experiences with residential schools and reconciliation.
The District of Oak Bay will be hosting events through the group ReconciliACTION Oak Bay – beginning in front of Oak Bay High School at 10 am, the event will honour residential school survivors with members of the Songhees Nation sharing their wisdom.
The City of Colwood will be presenting the Na'tsa'maht Gathering in honour of Truth and Reconciliation. The event will take place from 10 am – 4 pm at Royal Beach, and will include traditional songs, drumming, dancing and more.
The Corporation of the District of Saanich will be lighting the municipal hall orange on the evenings of September 29-30, and the flag will be lowered to half-mast.
The Township of Esquimalt has illuminated the Archie Browning Sports Centre in orange this week, and will continue to do so until September 30.
Along with the region’s municipalities, post-secondary institutions have committed to close their campuses on Sept. 30 and are offering informative and inclusive events:
The University of Victoria has been hosting various reconciliation events throughout the week. From film screenings at the First People’s House to livestreamed educational sessions, the university also has orange shirts designed by Carey Newman Hayalthkin’geme available at the bookstore. University President Kevin Hall will be detailing UVic’s calls to action and the role of education for Truth and Reconciliation.
Royal Roads University invites the community to join in virtual learning and events to honour the strength and resilience of Indigenous Peoples, including the #DrumForTheChildren virtual event at 2:15 with the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation. On and around campus, many will share on social media their commitment to reconciliation wearing the limited-edition Orange Shirt with a powerful logo of the Heron People Circle (elder and old ones) by member Clarence “Butch” Dick of Lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees) Nation.
Camosun College hosted their Orange Shirt Day event Wednesday at 1 pm. Attendees were invited to create love baskets filled with treats and medicines. The baskets will be delivered to residential school survivors who work closely with the college.
How will you recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation? For the first time, Canadians will officially join together tomorrow to honour Indigenous children who experienced traumatic abuse under the residential school system.
For the business community, a starting point could be the specific call to action by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Meaningful consultation, respectful relationships and ensuring consent of Indigenous peoples are among the ways businesses can help the reconciliation process. Other ways include ensuring access to jobs and training needed to benefit from economic development, as well as making sure all of us better understand the history of residential schools and ongoing challenges facing Indigenous people.
This summer, The Chamber took steps to address this call to action by creating an Indigenous Business Task Force. If you are interested in contributing to this initiative, or know someone who would be good addition, please contact us at email@example.com.
How does your business plan to mark Canada's first National Truth and Reconciliation Day on Sept. 30?
Canada's civil service will take the day off with pay. As well, the province and numerous institutions such as the University of Victoria, Camosun College and the Greater Victoria School District are also giving staff the day off.
“The Chamber has also made the decision to close our office on Sept. 30. We felt it was the right thing to do for our organization and reflects the decision we made, earlier in the summer, to create a new task force to help Indigenous entrepreneurs and First Nation businesses fully participate in Greater Victoria’s business community,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said, noting that the day is not a statutory holiday according to BC's Employment Standards Act. “Every organization will make their own decisions based on their business and sector.”
The Chamber will be using our Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter channels to reflect on the importance of this day as well as ongoing efforts to support the reconciliation process. Please follow and share, and let us know if you're planning anything to mark the day by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more resources to help your organization, click here.
Richard Michaels has been named chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s newly formed Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion. The committee will reach out to better include communities that have faced systemic marginalization due to race, ethnicity, gender, physical capabilities or other factors.
“I am proud to be the first chair of this new committee, which recognizes that the demographics of Greater Victoria are evolving and that adapting to this change is fundamental to the sustainability of our region’s economy,” said Michaels, president of MACCRIM Solutions and a member of The Chamber’s Board of Directors. “The Chamber is working to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment that engages businesses owners and entrepreneurs who reflect the full spectrum of our region. This strengthens our organization and ensures everyone in our region’s business community is represented by The Chamber.”
The purpose of the Committee for the Advancement of Diversity and Inclusion is to offer advice and guidance to help The Chamber create a more inclusive and welcoming business community. The mandate is part of the work the organization has been doing to achieve its vision of being “the region’s most diverse and influential business association.”
In June, The Chamber also announced the creation of an Indigenous Business Task Force to work toward reconciliation by engaging with Indigenous-owned businesses and First Nations to ensure they have access to all opportunities available to help them flourish.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we know things will not be as they were before it started,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “This is the time to take what we’ve learned from successfully adapting to challenging times and make our economy more sustainable. Good business really does build great community for all.”
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams has been named to the inaugural Canadian Chamber of Commerce BIPOC and Inclusion Council.
Diversity initiatives across the country are playing a part in creating a more socially inclusive economy. Small businesses play an important role, but often don’t know where to start.
"Chambers are experts at building connections and bringing people together," Chamber CEO Bruce Willams says. "We talk about being more inclusive and diverse, and we also need to walk the walk by hearing directly from voices and lived experiences that will guide us in making meaningful change."
The new council will inform the Canadian Chamber’s initiatives in supporting BIPOC, drive meaningful action to address the identified challenges and opportunities BIPOC face in participating in the Canadian economy, share and recognize best practices and advocate for changes that facilitate diversity and inclusion.
The Chamber has repeatedly advocated that inclusion is a key economic driver. Across Canada, improved participation rates could add 2.2 million workers to the labour force by 2040, including more women, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, thereby growing our economy by $101 billion.
Financial support is available for First Nations and Indigenous entrepreneurs looking to produce or process food, or other associated activities. The BC Indigenous Agriculture Development Program provides up to $8,000 for specialized planning and coaching services to help develop food and agricultural businesses.
Food security is a priority for our region, and tapping into Indigenous knowledge about sustainable production on their traditional territories can only help as we continue to face challenges due to climate events.
The program is first-come first-serve and will be available until all of the ascribed funding is allocated.
The move to Step 3 of BC's Restart Plan has renewed optimism among the many businesses that had been stifled by pandemic restrictions.
"We're gradually expanding our capacity to move a little closer to whatever normal is going to be," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams told CFAX's Al Ferraby. The two also discussed the need for Canada to open its border to international travellers.
Getting back to business is not without its challenges. Employers continue to struggle finding people to fill available jobs, and supply chains are still working through some of the bumps caused by extended shutdowns. The Chamber and our community partners also continue to urge the provincial government to return its workforce to downtown offices.
Williams also spoke to CFAX about The Chamber's effort to support Indigenous business and follow through on calls to action outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The Chamber Board recently approved the creation of a new task-force committed to listening and working alongside First Nations' businesses and Indigenous entrepreneurs. Another way we're supporting economic reconciliation is through a new membership program created for Indigenous-owned business.
The Victoria Native Friendship Centre was bequeathed a large property in the District of Oak Bay. The house, donated by 85-year-old Marion Cumming, is one of many properties donated to Indigenous groups across Canada by Cumming and her late husband Bruce.
A decision has not yet been made on how the property will be used, but ideas include using the space for board retreats or an artist in residence.
On Monday, The Chamber celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day on social media, and we continue to look for new ways to support Indigenous-owned businesses in Greater Victoria.
Next week, we will announce a special initiative to help more Indigenous businesses benefit from being part of our region's business community. The Chamber is committed to being an inclusive organization and making sure we live up to our vision of being the region’s most diverse and influential business association.