FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – In her keynote speech at the North Central Local Government Association AGM & Convention, former Justice Minister Jody-Wilson Raybould told delegates they must act as “in-betweeners” to help continue the work of true reconciliation.

Raybould spoke of the after-effects of colonialism and how it has created deep divides between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

“Even as we live next door to each other, amongst each other, there is silence between us. The reality of silos is something that affects us all, indigenous and non-indigenous, and it is destructive,” Raybould said.

She says Canada has siloed stories historically, with the story of Canada’s founding seeing indigenous people left out and not welcomed.

Raybould said the discovery of mass graves in the past year proves that much learning must take place to form a shared story.

“Even though public awareness about the history of the residential school system in Canada had grown exponentially in the past decade, the realization that thousands of children never returned from these schools because they died was a horrific shock to the public.”

“While the reports of the mass graves were horrific for indigenous peoples, it was in no way shocking in our communities. It was always known that children died and never returned from residential schools in various ways,” Raybould stated.

Raybould says to transcend the silos and create that shared story, Canadians must step up and act as in-betweeners to help bridge the gap.

“Individuals and organizations learning to walk between and translate between and transcend the silos. It is it’s not easy. It takes courage. It demands being uncomfortable. It often means breaking away from and out of expectations,” Raybould said.

“If we are going to live side by side together, we are not going anywhere. Then understanding our different ways of being is important. This is the reverse of assimilation, colonialism, and racism. It is knowledge inclusion and equity.”

The NCLGA conference is happening at the Pomeroy Hotel and Conference Centre this week.

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.