What is Economic Reconciliation?

August 02, 2019

I don’t think there is just one definition and I believe one definition limits the possibilities.  Language can be so constricting, especially when it is not our own.  Our Indigenous Languages are no-where near as limiting as the English language. This is hopefully demonstrated and understood through my previous article on Grounding Economic Systems in Culture.  I hope you comprehend the complexity of our ‘knowing’ in a deeper way through this sharing of knowledge.  Each Nation of course will be in a different space when it comes to sharing this ‘knowing’ with you, as some Nations/Communities are still in the process of regaining this back into their own being. Colonization has devastated our culture, traditions, language, teachings, etc.  The sharing of this, if not lost already, are finally being brought into the light to be shared with the new generations.  Thus, my true excitement and passion for grounding this work in this knowing.

Let’s go back the idea that one’s own language is more explicit to deriving one’s awareness of themselves and others.  I’ll say it once again, that the English cannot fully do justice to our ‘knowing’ as there are not enough words to explain it.  For example: "COMMUNITY” in Nsyilxcәn (Okanagan) is a word that has the meaning that we are ‘OF ONE SKIN’. The one skin is not referring so much to the idea that we’re biologically related as to the idea that we share something which gives us a covering, a security, a protection – in the same way that our skin, stretched over our blood and bones protects us from dissipating back into our larger selves which is the external world. Your skin holds you together.” (Dr. Jeanette Armstrong, Sharing One Skin)

Which is interconnected with understanding ‘Sharing Ones Skin’, Enowkinwixw, ‘How Food Was Given’, etc. The complexity of knowing is worth being curious about how to create the foundation of doing better at Reconciliation in the Economic System. One’s knowing of the Cultural Frameworks of the Communities and Nations one will be ‘doing business with’, will greatly influence your relationship to the outcomes to those benefactors, the Children and Families of those Communities.

I mention above the limitations of language, because this narrows our ability to communicate explicitly how we engage in conversation concerning our needs.  Based on place, language culture, etc., I believe Economic Reconciliation may be different for each Nation. Thus, the understanding/meaning of Economic Reconciliation for each Nation/Community should be flexible to meet the specific needs, context and unique worldview for each. It’s not just the bottom line, it’s a multitude of things intertwined for the well-being of everything.

My understanding of Economic Reconciliation does include things like:

  • Holistic awareness of wealth (it is more than just money)

  • Well-Being (social, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, place, resources, etc.)

  • Social Innovation and Social Finance

  • Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Triple/Quadruple Bottom Lines

  • Co-operatives, Non-Profits

  • Essentials like Housing, Food, Employment, Purpose. Education

  • Knowledge, Traditions, Ceremony, Protocols

  • Culture, Language, Place, Resources

  • Sovereignty, Self-Determination, Equity, Equality

  • Healing, Spirituality, Compassion, Empathy

  • Forgiveness for self and others, Peace

  • And whatever else is required to make it work

And is influenced by some of these guiding principles:

  • Membership driven (the children and families of these Communities and Nations)

  • Values and Community/Nation Based Development

  • Multi-Generational (Decisions today affect 7 generations from now)

  • Traditional Knowledge influences or foundation of all things

All of these things are interconnected, they do not stand alone or in a silo.  Our well-being through wealth creation and sustainability is through all of them.  If you put a child in the centre, their well-being includes all of the above and so much more.  The ripple effects of all of these things play a role in that child’s life, their parents’/care givers’ lives, their immediate and extended families, community and Nations.  So, you see the web of connections and why Economic Reconciliation is important.

Economic Reconciliation Visual, Sxwpilemaát Siyám

Our people knew how to live off the land, respect the resources it provided. They were guardians for that well-being, purpose and balance for all things. We still are guardians, this has not been lost to us.  Our world is healing itself every day, so must we.  Economic Reconciliation requires us to find this balance once again, to be a guardian for all things, be responsible to the one planet we do have, and protect her like we were born to her.

To reconcile our Economic past, look to the vision of a new way, and find a platform to launch the new framework of our well-being in relation to our greatest resource, mother earth.  This is not an easy task, as many people are stuck in the wrath of our current mind set of Economics.  Despite knowing that the industrial capitalist economy has killed and is still killing the earth and ourselves, things are not changing enough.  Prophecies share that we the indigenous are here to now teach the new ways. We are already doing this, I just want us to be louder, more persistent, to continue to make huge shifts, change policies, laws, set new precedents, hear our children, heed their knowing and let them lead the way.

Let’s be, in totality, the ‘Champions’ for Economic Reconciliation, working together in collaboration, partnership, and solidarity for a new way of being for a new Economy. There are so many brilliant people, projects, events, entrepreneurs, social enterprises, businesses, etc. already doing this work. I can only imagine the possibilities if we did it more collectively with a similar vision in mind.  I want to explore this with you, in partnership, collaboration, together for our people, by our people.  We know this is who we are, let’s put it into practice and demonstrate to our allies, how they can do this with us.

Influences on Economic Reconciliation:

  • Legal landscape in Canada

  • Truth and Reconciliation 92 Calls to Action (and not just call 92)

  • Bill 41 - Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

  • National and International movements to Support Indigenous Community Economic Development

  • Trust in Indigenous Ways of Knowing


Influencers in Economic Reconciliation:

  • Governments – Federal, Provincial, Municipal

  • Industry

  • Financial and Educational Institutions

  • Non-Profits, Cooperatives, Foundations, Charities (Social Innovation/Social Finance)

  • Businesses

  • Media


Outcomes of Economic Reconciliation:

  • A way to be curious about understanding Indigenous ways of knowing and being 

  • Understanding traditional economic systems with the intent of framing a new economic system of well-being for both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Nations

  • Addressing the current socio-economic state of Indigenous people in B.C.

  • Developing a framework for strengthened partnerships between government and Indigenous governments for community economic development and well-being

  • Building local relationships with First Nations to support indigenous economies and economic development opportunities

  • Using traditional indigenous economic principles to realise sustainable, effective, and comprehensive community economic development

  • A digital platform for regional players to discover indigenous economic development and their role in Economic Reconciliation