Reconciliation with Chief Robert Joseph (2013/14)

January 15, 2014 - March 7, 2014

SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue presented Chief Robert Joseph with the 2014 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue in recognition for his tireless work to renew relationships among Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. 

About Chief Joseph    

Chief Robert Joseph is a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation who upholds a life dedicated to bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding and racism at home and abroad. 

His insights into the destructive impacts these forces can have on peoples’ lives, families and cultures were shaped by his experience with the Canadian Indian Residential School system. Joseph began his life immersed in the rich cultural and family life of the Kwakwaka’wakw People. Unlike many other First Nations, his people were able to maintain much of their traditions due to the isolated and self-sustaining nature of their small village located on the central coast of British Columbia. Nonetheless, the reach of the government was long and eventually, as a young child of six years old, Joseph was removed from his community in order to begin an education designed to “kill the Indian in the child.” Despite the harsh lessons and abuse endured during his 11 years spent at St. Michael’s, Chief Joseph retained a deep understanding of his place in the world and his responsibility to his people. 

As one of the last few speakers of the Kwakwaka’wakw language, Chief Joseph is an eloquent and inspiring Ceremonial House Speaker. He shares his knowledge and wisdom in the Big House and as a language instructor with the University of British Columbia, an internationally recognized art curator and co-author of Down from the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast.

In 2003, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from the University of British Columbia for his distinguished achievements in serving British Columbia and Canada.

Chief Joseph is currently the Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, Chairman of the National Assembly of First Nations Elder Council, and Special Advisor to both Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Indian Residential School Resolutions Canada.

As Chairman of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation and Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation with the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IFWP), Chief Joseph has sat with the leaders of South Africa, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia and Washington, DC to learn from and share his understanding of faith, hope, healing and reconciliation.


  • January 15, 2014

    January 15, 2014

    Simon Fraser University President Andrew Petter and Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue Academic Director Mark Winston presented the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue to Chief Robert Joseph on January 15, 2014.

  • January 23, 2014

    January 23, 2014

    Reconciling Injustices in a Pluralistic Canada was one of the most comprehensive events ever held in Canada to highlight the knowledge and expertise that stakeholders themselves bring to reconciling injustices.

  • April 04, 2014

    April 04, 2014

    The SFU Reconciliation Workshop held space for the campus community to discuss SFU's role in supporting reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

  • The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue commissioned a series of five poems exploring the concept of reconciliation in honour of Chief Robert Joseph, recipient of SFU’s 2014 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue.

  • March 06, 2014

    March 06, 2014

    Youth Voices on Reconciliation was a day-long dialogue for students, teachers and administrators to discuss the role of the high school system in creating reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

  • SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue presents a series of videos highlighting the work of Chief Robert Joseph. Chief Joseph is the recipient of the 2014 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue for a lifetime of outstanding achievements promoting reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Award Program Outcomes

  • Developing shared principles to support the reconciliation of a broad range of historical and contemporary injustices in Canadian society, in conjunction with stakeholders affected by injustice
  • Highlighting the life and work of Chief Robert Joseph through a series of short videos, which have since been used as an educational resource by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and local high schools
  • Commissioning a series of reconciliation poems, originally presented in partnership with Vancouver Public Library and since featured in SubTerrain magazine and placed on display at Vancouver City Hall
  • Exploring the role of BC's education system in supporting reconciliation by engaging students, instructors and administrators at the SFU Reconciliation Workshop and Youth Voices on Reconciliation high school event

Select Media & Commentary


The Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue is presented to an individual who exemplifies, internationally, the spirit and programs of SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Recipients of the award have demonstrated excellence and accomplishments in using dialogue to further complex issues of public importance.