There is a longstanding tradition in British Columbia that when a new Lieutenant Governor is appointed to office, they outline several key themes for their term.
These themes are reflective of the personal priorities of the Lieutenant Governor. Often, they are tied to an issue that the Lieutenant Governor is passionate about addressing in our society.
The Honourable Janet Austin will use her position to shine a light on contemporary social issues and help create positive societal change and improve the lives of British Columbians.
Her Honour has identified the three distinct areas of focus for her term, which will serve as guiding principles as she develops programs and initiatives aimed at building a stronger, healthier, and more robust society.
Her Honour’s themes include supporting our democracy and public institutions, advancing reconciliation for the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and championing inclusion, diversity and gender equality.
Read more about Her Honour’s three themes below.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
One of British Columbia’s greatest strengths is the diversity of its people.
We are incredibly fortunate to live in a society that celebrates our differences, while also recognizing the commonalities that bond us together.
Over the past few decades, our province has been a global leader in creating a more tolerant and inclusive society. British Columbians have been at the forefront of driving this societal shift. But our work is not done yet.
Her Honour believes that creating a truly inclusive society remains one of the most pressing issues of our time, which is why she has identified it as a top priority for her term as Lieutenant Governor.
Inclusion means promoting multiculturalism. It means championing gender parity in business, politics, and society at large. It means fighting for equality for the LGBTQ+ community. It means breaking down barriers for individuals living with disabilities. And it means demonstrating compassion and support for the most vulnerable members of our society, including our friends, colleagues, and neighbours who may be struggling to overcome mental health challenges, addictions, or poverty.
At its core, inclusion is about unleashing the potential of British Columbians and empowering people from all walks of life to flourish and contribute to our society.
Her Honour believes the first step towards achieving this goal is to bring people together, spark conversations, overcome stigmas, and ultimately nurture a culture that sees the true value in having a diverse spectrum of ideas, opinions, perspectives, and experiences at the table.
In doing so, we will create a British Columbia that we can all be proud to call home.
DEMOCRACY AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
One of British Columbia’s greatest challenges is the fragility of democracy in the 21st century.
Across the globe, politics have become increasingly polarized in recent years, while the tone of rhetoric from political leaders has become more combative and divisive.
Like many, Her Honour is concerned that this decline in civil discourse undermines our democratic conventions, erodes respect for our public institutions and discourages people from becoming engaged in the democratic process. As Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Her Honour feels she has an important role to play in promoting civic engagement and constructive participation in our democracy.
Given the non-partisan nature of her role, Her Honour feels compelled to leverage her position to encourage the cross-fertilization of opinions and bring together British Columbians with differing perspectives who share the desire to make their communities a better place to live.
Her Honour also pledges to encourage elected officials, employers, community organizers, and others in leadership positions to do their part to reach out beyond the boundaries that divide people in our society. And she will urge institutions (including community groups, business organizations, non-profits, and post-secondary institutions) to host events and conversations that provide a neutral ground for the exchange of ideas.
Her Honour believes we must all take responsibility to engage with people from different walks of life and that we should approach those interactions as an opportunity to listen, learn, and understand the views of our neighbours, which are often rooted in personal experience.
She also believes that encouraging civic engagement in the next generation is a crucial step, which is why one of her keystone initiatives will be the creation of a Youth Advisory Council to support this work.
One of British Columbia’s greatest opportunities is reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
As Her Majesty’s direct representative in British Columbia, the Honourable Janet Austin is deeply committed to strengthening the ever-evolving relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples. This includes honouring Indigenous traditions and heritage and promoting the vibrant and diverse cultures of the First Nations communities of British Columbia to the rest of Canada and the world.
The Lieutenant Governor supports a dialogue of reconciliation and respect, and participates in events and promotion of public awareness of this ongoing journey.
Her Honour believes that reconciliation is about honest reflection and restitution. It’s about moving forward in friendship and forging meaningful relationships. It’s about the recognition of past injustices, working to heal those wounds, and ultimately ensuring a brighter future for all British Columbians.
In recent years, our province has begun the reconciliation process in earnest. Important work is now underway to ensure First Nations communities are full participants in decision-making that affects their rights and lands.
It is also encouraging to see new economic partnerships with First Nations communities and efforts being made by our provincial government to close gaps in Indigenous health, education, skills training, and employment.
The road to reconciliation will be a long one, but it is full of promise. Her Honour is dedicated to travelling to First Nations communities throughout British Columbia, speaking with Indigenous leaders, and being a strong voice championing reconciliation during her tenure at Government House.