Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

2023 C-Suite Awards: Reconciliation Canada CEO Karen Joseph

A conduit for and champion of meaningful reconciliation across the country

BIV is proud to recognize eight exceptional corporate executives with 2023 C-Suite Awards.

Six CEOs and two CFOs were recently featured in BIV's print edition, including Reconciliation Canada CEO Karen Joseph, who will be recognized with a BC CEO Award at an in-person event Nov. 15.

Joseph is Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw and the eldest daughter of Hereditary Chief Kwinkwinkwalkigedzi-Wakas (Chief Dr. Robert Joseph) and Matriarch Gwantilakw (Donna Joseph). She is the co-founder and CEO of Reconciliation Canada, a national charitable organization dedicated to deepening and weaving reconciliation into the fabric of our lives. Joseph is a fellow of the Academy of Systems Change and has been awarded Canada’s Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) for her contributions to Canada’s reconciliation movement. In 2022, she received a YWCA Women of Distinction Award.

The following Q&A with Hopkins has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

What has been your greatest business or career success to date?

There have been many on this journey of reconciliation. This is especially true as reconciliation is a way of being that calls us to our highest self. The 2013 Walk for Reconciliation changed the course of this country. It was an acknowledgement that reconciliation is not an Indigenous issue. It is a Canadian issue steeped in systems, values and cultures that no longer serve the people of this land.

The design reflected an initiation into a new society that began with an invitation, followed by the hard work of dialogue circles that catalyzed meaningful relationships to support a nationwide reconciliation movement.

What was your toughest professional or career decision?

The toughest decision was understanding when a new phase of reconciliation was necessary. Moving beyond dialogue into concrete actions that address the disparities faced by our children, mentors and elders who live in urban communities. Over 50 per cent of Indigenous Peoples live in urban settings. Exposure to, understanding of and practising our ways of being is unrealistic as our traditional houses are in our remote communities.

Now we move forward on building Traditional Houses to support these teachings in the major cities across this country.

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

Trust the process. This has nothing to do with me. I am merely a conduit. Each time I hit a

challenge or a barrier, I kept showing up inspired, open and ready to work, with love.

How do you lead?

My leadership style reflects the teachings of my people. My job is to listen and facilitate the vision. A great team involves great people who know more than I do in their areas of expertise. My superpower is connecting all the people and pieces together in a coherent story and strategy that is informative and moving. This is achieved by recognizing that our children are our reason for being. We are responsible to them. They are the ultimate beneficiaries of any social change initiative.

Biggest personal and professional areas of growth over the past year?

Reconciliation Canada catalyzes meaningful relationships to build a vibrant Canada where all peoples achieve their optimum potential and shared prosperity. The success of Reconciliation Canada’s values-based dialogue and leadership initiatives led to a dramatic increase in demand. Our team recognized the urgency and the complexity of reconciliation at this critical moment and time and did our best to meet that demand. The level of emotional and physical expenditure required to do this transformative work is extreme. Ultimately, it took a huge toll on our health and well-being. We needed to come to a virtual stop to explore how to care for ourselves and then rebuild our relationship with the work and one another with the ultimate goal of sustaining our highest selves for the long haul. Living at our optimum potential is the hardest and most rewarding part of this journey.

Tickets are available to BIV's 2023 C-Suite Awards on Nov. 15 in Vancouver. More information on the event and this year's award winners is available here.