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Sep 30, 2021

National Day for Truth & Reconciliation at the Kelowna Chamber

A Message from the Chair of the Board
 
I begin this note to Chamber members and the business community by respectfully acknowledging that our organization, over its 115-year history, has operated on the unceded traditional territory of the Syilx Okanagan peoples.
 
As you are no doubt aware, the federal government declared September 30th as a new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day for all of us to reflect, learn, and turn our good intentions into tangible action towards healing the harms suffered by Canada’s Indigenous population.
 
The Kelowna Chamber is undertaking several initiatives to raise awareness among our members of this important date and draw attention to cruelties of the residential school system. There are many opportunities for learning and they are available at anytime not just on Sept. 30th. I encourage all Chamber members to pursue the activities and videos made available by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
 
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The Federal Government's move to entrench National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, answers the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for a statutory holiday that honours survivors, their families, and communities, and ensures that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
 
It is my sincere wish that all Chamber members honour this spirit of the holiday. No matter if you were off from your regular employment or were required to work, I encourage you to take time to learn, reflect, and place those who are dealing with this ongoing trauma in your heart and in your mind. I also urge you to seize the opportunity of this day to personally and meaningfully engage with the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s Calls to Action.
 
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Lastly, BC’s recognition of September 30 this year is an interim measure while the province begins to engage with Indigenous partners and the business and labour communities to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate this day going forward. The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce will join that engagement process along with regional Indigenous community leaders and our members in formulating a longer-term plan for how to mark and interact with this important day in the future. We believe the business community has an important role to play in reconciliation and we are committed to do our part. If you have any ideas, please share them with us at hello@kelownachamber.org.
 
Sincerely Yours,
 
Jeffrey Robinson,
Chair of Board,
Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Est. 1906
 
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Kelowna Chamber Team Reflects on the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation
 
The team here at the Kelowna Chamber also has taken time to reflect on what Truth & Reconciliation means to us, and what we want to learn and action moving forward.
 

Question: What does Truth and Reconciliation mean to you?

Lauren Martell, Member Services Manager (and member of the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan)

Truth and reconciliation to me means being an ally and standing in solidarity with those that have been directly or indirectly impacted by Indian Residential Schools. It means providing the space for others to share their stories. It means listening and reading to learn, and unlearn, to help create change.

Michelle Plante, Program and Member Services Lead

Hearing and learning from the stories of the survivors of the residential schools, understanding and acknowledging what the multiple generations endured during that time at the residential schools and how they were impacted. Also, what we can do as a society in the future to continue that learning, building of relationships and recognition of the indigenous people in our community.

Caroline Miller, Policy Analyst

This day is a good reminder to do something meaningful and it has fueled my passion to figure out how to make a positive difference going forward.

Liana Pesl, Member Services Assistant

Today means an acknowledgement that this history happened in our country in a very real, tragic, horrendous way. It means we can let this be a spark that ignites a massive change movement to better educate, learn, and find interest in our Indigenous history. I hope today marks the first of many opportunities for myself to learn, understand, and grow as an individual.

Dan Rogers, Executive Director

Truth and Reconciliation means taking sincere steps to fully understand the truth around the atrocities of the residential school system and facing our history so that we can build a better future together.

 

Question: What is one thing you have learned or hope to learn about truth and reconciliation?

Lauren Martell, Member Services Manager (and member of the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan)

One thing that I want to learn is what I can do professionally and personally to support those Indigenous organizations and individuals that are creating change in our community, province, and country. I want to learn how I can be a better ally for those that are creating positive change for truth and reconciliation to benefit future generations.

Michelle Plante, Program and Member Services Lead

Hearing the stories from survivors of the residential schools is heart breaking. Listening to what they went through has been an eye-opening experience and it is important to hear these stories and have a deeper knowledge of the trauma they experienced. I am thankful that the Chamber allowed us this opportunity to really learn and reflect on this day. I personally want to extend this learning and gain more knowledge through reading of literature, research, and listening to more stories from the survivors.

Liana Pesl, Member Services Assistant

I feel privileged to work for the Chamber knowing it is part of a large national network that is helping forge a new and positive path forward. an opportunity to pause and embrace Truth and Reconciliation. How it affects us personally and how we may acknowledge, learn and more forward to create a more inclusive, understanding and forgiving society.

Caroline Miller, Policy Analyst

The one thing I learned about T&R is how much there is to learn.

Dan Rogers, Executive Director

I hope to encourage an appreciation of the value of small steps. Today is a day to raise awareness and understanding of others, specifically to understand the truth around the devastating impact to generations because of the residential school system in Canada. Only by understanding and accepting the truth will we be able to take small steps on a long journey towards reconciliation.

 

Question: What are you/your chamber doing to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

Our team (Kelowna Chamber) is using this day to continue its journey of raising internal awareness of the truth around residential schools and the atrocities inflicted on the Indigenous Population.

This has included:

> A Statement from our Board Chair to our members and the business community encouraging the community to pick up the Truth and Reconciliation Challenge.

> We also of course pick up our Orange shirts through our local first nation in recognition of this day and we share the story of where Orange Shirt day began.

> We are using our large network to share information with our members and the business community as to what they can do and where they can find resources to help them learn and understand.

> Our team is also focused inwards, using this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation as a day to reflect and learn. This included setting time aside as a team to:

  • Review videos that have captured some of the country’s Indigenous history.
  • Participate in facilitated group discussion to better understand the past and our understanding of it and to share our own stories and history.
  • Initiated a discussion to identify tangible steps our Chamber can take towards helping our organization, our members, and the community collectively heal and create a better and more just society.

> We are also using this day to promote our Indigenous Business of the Year Award as part of our Business Annual Excellence Awards.

> Our Board also dedicated time today for a fulsome discussion on how the board can provide leadership and work with our local Indigenous partners to help the community better understand the truth and chart a better path forward.

> A Task Group has been created by the Board to provide leadership in improving our relationships with our local Indigenous organizations with the understanding this will be a long-term commitment.