›› Craig Candler

“…the legacy of ­colonialism is still with us… in ­speaking with Canadians across the country, the two ­questions I am most often asked are “What can I do?” and “How can I make a ­difference?” – Jody Wilson-­Raybould, From Where I Stand

Many of us are asking these questions this summer. Orange shirts and ­territorial acknowledgements are springing up all over as Fernwood, and all of Canada, is reminded of the colonialism our communities, and our homes, are built on.

Colonialism literally made Fernwood. The same system that put Indigenous kids into residential schools took ­Indigenous land and divided it up into thousands of little private lots that make up ­Victoria today. Orange shirts and words of ­acknowledgement are good, but shouldn’t we do something about our own ­backyards? For one option, check out ­reciprocitytrusts.ca.

Reciprocity Trusts is a new organization of home owners, renters, and businesses working to make recognition of ­Indigenous lands more real. Reciprocity Trusts is based on an online tool that allows you to make annual reciprocity payments based on your property’s value, or the rent you pay each month. Reciprocity payments go into a local Indigenous owned and ­controlled trust and then to the First Nations communities whose territory you live on.

Reciprocity Trusts is getting started right here in Victoria. For now, interested homeowners, renters, or businesses can visit reciprocitytrusts.ca and pledge to say that you like the idea and want to be part of it. After a meeting with Songhees, Esquimalt, and other south island Nations this summer, Reciprocity will be ready to accept payments soon. For homeowners, the recommended reciprocity payment is based on 1% of property taxes each month, or between about $400 and $600 a year for the average Fernwood home. For renters, it’s 1% of monthly rent.

Christina Clarke, Songhees First Nation, says, “I know there are a lot of people who want to do something and we’ve got to find a way to channel that energy. The idea behind Reciprocity is long overdue.”

#decolonizeyourbackyard at reciprocitytrusts.ca.