CLBC commits to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

Community Living BC (CLBC), a crown corporation that supports adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, celebrated an historic signing ceremony on June 3, promising to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. An official Board statement was signed by CLBC leadership, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Sheila Malcolmson and Neil Belanger, head of the CLBC Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC). The signing was witnessed by IAC self-advocate Charlene Barney.

The emotional ceremony, which took place in Richmond, included the Indigenous tradition of using designated witnesses. The witnesses were asked to bring back the story of the ceremony to their communities. Speakers relayed how past systemic racism had resulted in feelings of shame and guilt, and of their struggles to be heard. As the stories were shared, others talked about the healing and trust they felt during the ceremony and noted the sense of dignity and respect being shown.

Speaking about the work that led to the ceremony, CLBC Board Chair Michael Prince said, “We needed to make sure we had an understanding of the ways that discrimination against Indigenous people combined with another form of discrimination – ableism…. In our first steps on the journey, we learned that we could only work at the speed of trust. We needed to do the work of building new relationships.”

Later in the ceremony Gwen Campbell-McArthur, of the CLBC Elders Council, wryly described how she’d been doing this work for nearly 50 years.

“As this work improves lives and services to Indigenous people, it also improves the lives of everybody,” said CLBC CEO Ross Chilton. “We will keep working to earn your trust. We can do better, and we will do better.”

The CLBC Board Statement, created with the Indigenous Advisory Committee, lays out four principles that now guide the work of CLBC: cultural safety and humility; equity and anti-racism; impactful, enduring and sustainable; and self-determination.

“Everyone benefits when our communities are inclusive and when all people have access to opportunities,” said Minister Malcolmson. “The signing of the CLBC Board Commitment to advance reconciliation is a significant step forward in our work together. We have so much gratitude for Indigenous peoples’ guidance and strength as we continue to identify, prevent, and remove barriers for people with disabilities.”

CLBC is taking specific steps to building trusting relationships with Indigenous communities, such as having the role of the Indigenous Advisory Committee enshrined into legislation on May 12 this year. Other steps include:

  • creating a Vice President of Quality Services and Indigenous Relations.
  • creation of a baseline survey, to ensure that Indigenous voices are not only heard, but also tracked.
  • strengthening relationships with urban Indigenous organizations;
  • embedding the value of cultural safety in the CLBC strategic plan.

“Here at CLBC our work of reconciliation has just begun. I hope this work has created an environment in which First Nations can now come to the table, knowing they will be heard and respected,” said Ross Chilton.

Videos from the ceremony:


Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Sheila Malcolmson signs the commitment to reconciliation:

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