News

‘Fish in Schools’ Program Extends to Over 30 School in the Face of COVID-19 Restrictions

January 19th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: Over the last week the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) delivered the final round of the fish tanks and equipment to 30 schools throughout Syilx territory, including 13 returning schools and groups in the Columbia, as part of the Fish in Schools (FinS) program. These deliveries have come as new provincial regulations have halted the distribution to some institutions due to ever changing COVID-19 regulations. Ten new schools in the Columbia are anticipating delivery of chillers and tanks in the next few weeks, in the hopes that they too, can participate this year.

Chief Keith Crow, CEC member and Co-Chair of the Columbia River Salmon Initiative (CRSRI) stated that “FinS remains a key program component in the ONA’s broader salmon restoration goals to bring salmon back to their original range — raising awareness about the importance of salmon to the ecosystem and the Syilx Nation. Salmon is central to our culture, laws, practices, and principles as peoples. We know salmon have been, and continue to be, blocked from returning by hydro-electric dams created throughout the Columbia River system since the 1940’s, yet Syilx Leadership remains committed to this work as in both the Okanagan sub-basin and Upper Columbia regions where salmon once flourished. We remain steadfast to restoring and rejuvenating salmon back to the Upper Columbia and Okanagan Basin by building and strengthening key working relationships and the public’s awareness of the importance of our once primary food source. This is done by upholding our sacred responsibilities — through numerous ceremonies, ensuring salmon habitat is stewarded in the most innovative ways possible and respecting our ancestor, our elders, their teaching, our traditional knowledge keepers, while engaging western science.”

FinS is a comprehensive fish education program for youth, with a focus on sc’win (sockeye salmon), their lifecycle and the importance of their ecosystems. By creating greater awareness of fish species with youth and students of different ages, the intent is for them to become future leaders, land protectors, water managers, scientists and the multitude of environmental and social justice professions that are available for them. In the Columbia, this program further cultivates awareness of salmon’s historical runs from the ocean, upstream to the Kettle River, Columbia, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenay Rivers, including tributaries of the Salmo and Slocan River.

“The FinS program has proven to be highly successful and popular, with far more requests for participation than we can keep pace with. By having students in the room be able to directly participate in rearing eggs, and raising the hatched fry in the classroom, and seeing their life cycles firsthand, they are able to have a direct contribution and connection to salmon reintroduction efforts. The program also offers educators scientific and cultural resources that enrich students understandings of the importance of this species, for the ecosystem and Syilx people”, Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager added.

Egg delivery to FinS participant schools took place over the first half of January 2022. Upon successfully raising the fry, students will include their fry in ceremonial releases taking place throughout the Syilx territory in 2022.

~

The Fish in Schools program has been running successfully since 2003 in the Okanagan region and contributes to the kł cp̓əlk@ stim̓ Hatchery’s fry release efforts. The kł cp̓əlk@ stim̓ Hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the salmon – one of our Four Food Chiefs – to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory.

For more information contact:
Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager
Tel: (250) 718-5215

Michael Zimmer, ONA Fisheries Columbia Biologist
Tel: (250) 304-7341

‘Fish in Schools’ Program Extends to Over 30 School in the Face of COVID-19 Restrictions Media Release


Syilx Okanagan Nation Call on US Secretary of Interior to Relaunch ki?lawna? (Grizzly Bear) Recovery Work in the Northern Cascades of the US

January 13th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation is urging the US Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland, to act immediately and relaunch the recovery planning process for ki?lawna (grizzly bear) in the US portion of the North Cascades. This process was stalled under the previous US Administration since 2016.  However, we are hopeful that the […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Demand Proper Engagement Regarding Recent Old Growth Forest Deferrals Announcement by the Province of BC

December 17th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation are deeply concerned and disappointed by the recent announcement by the Province of BC that claims to have engaged and consulted with 161 First Nations regarding old growth logging deferrals. Instead, of the 161 Nations that were ‘heard from’ on this process, most are fully opposed, and […]

wápupxn (lynx) Project

November 19th, 2021

Protection of all parts of the tmixw requires strong collaborations to ensure successful restoration efforts take place and assertion of our responsibilities throughout all parts of the territory. As part of this commitment the Okanagan Nation Alliance are working with the Colville Confederated Tribes — alongside local trappers, BC’s Ministry of Forests, Land, Natural Resource […]

One River, Ethics Matter Conference

November 11th, 2021

Okanagan Nation Alliance and UBCO, host Columbia River Conference Voices from both sides of the border discuss ethics of the Columbia River Treaty What: One River, Ethics Matter (OREM) conference Who: UBCO’s Jeannette Armstrong, ʔaʔsiwɬ Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, traditional knowledge keepers, environmental experts, academic and religious scholars When: November 17 and 18, from 9:00 […]

Syilx Okanagan Support Motor Vehicle Restrictions on Wildfire Burn Sites on the Territory

October 29th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Chiefs of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) firmly support the recent decision by the Province of British Columbia to restrict motor vehicle (MV) access on backroads in the Thompson Okanagan and parts of the Kootenay regions that have been impacted by the 2021 wildfire season. This closure is taking place […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Calls for Full Scale Overhaul of Ministry of Children and Family Development in Light of Saunders Case

October 7th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory:  The Syilx Okanagan Nation is extremely disappointed by the recent plea deal that was struck for Robert Riley Saunders — a long standing Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) social worker later found to be uncertified and who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Indigenous children on Syilx territory. […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Open Letter for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

September 29th, 2021

The Syilx Okanagan Nation is calling on all Canadians to remember what September 30, 2021, means for Indigenous Peoples — beyond reconciliation.  Orange Shirt Day was spearheaded by Indian Residential School Survivor Phyllis Webstad, who shared her story widely to bring awareness to the harm and trauma created by colonialism and Indian Residential Schools on […]

Banners Installed to Honour Residential School Attendees and Families

September 28th, 2021

UBCO marks Orange Shirt Day with installation of banners                     UBCO general science student Fiona Lizotte and Okanagan Nation Alliance Wellness Manager Jennifer Lewis, both members of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, hold up the Orange Shirt Day Banners now hanging across the campus. UBC Okanagan, in […]

Taking a Stand with Orange Shirt Design

September 21st, 2021

Description of Imagery:  This image depicts a flying bird with rainbow wings, lined with the statements “əts ha’ stim iʔ scəcmalaʔ” and “puti kʷu aláʔ” — which translates to “every child matters” and “we are still here”. These phrases are like the wind beneath the bird’s wings that are lifting them up and supporting them […]

Moves Toward Decommissioning Wilsey Dam Another Step to Returning ntitiyx (Salmon) to All Parts of Syilx Territory

September 20th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory:  After decades of advocating, the Okanagan Nation Alliance commends BC Hydro’s important step towards decommissioning Wilsey Dam and the Shuswap Falls Powerhouse. BC Hydro will now move forward planning for the decommission and prepare an application to the BC Utilities Commission to obtain approval to cease operations at the facility. These […]

Voting in the 2021 Federal Elections

September 17th, 2021

Greetings to our dear Elders, Leaders, and community members. With the greatest respect, we ask for your help and appeal for your support. We are working on getting out the vote on Election Day. One of our most important efforts in this campaign is to reach Indigenous voters and make it easy for them to […]

Access to sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (OK Falls) fishery Update

September 9th, 2021

The site of the sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (Okanagan Falls) salmon fishery is an important area in Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory. Prior to colonization it was the second largest inland fisheries on Syilx territory, and was a central part of our food, social and economic fisheries. Access has been an issue that the CEC have brought forward for […]

Artist Showcase: Csetkwe Fortier

August 30th, 2021

Csetkwe Fortier Csetkwe (Pronounced: chuh-set-quah) (Meaning: Lights Reflection on Water) Csetkwe is a multi-gifted artist with her roots in the Syilx (Okanagan) and Secwepmec (Shuswap) Nations. Holding the responsibility and respect of being stamia (two spirit), a sqwuy (mother to sons) and a Traditional Knowledge Keeper, she mainly represents in Live Arts and Visual Arts. […]

Community Harvesting Notice: Blue Tongue Outbreak

August 26th, 2021

Please be advised a Blue Tongue outbreak in a herd of california big horn sheep, by GrandForks, has been confirmed. We are encouraging hunters to report any sick game they come across to Addison Fosberry, ONA Wildlife Biologist at (250) 300-8226, for more information: epizootic_hemorrhagic_disease.pdf (gov.bc.ca)

Wildfire Safety Information

August 16th, 2021

The 2021 wildfire season has arrived early in BC with devastating consequences. Wildfires can start easily and spread quickly. Knowing what to do in an emergency is critical to ensuring the health and safety of your community members and protecting your critical infrastructure. For more details please visit: www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/wildfire-emergency-contacts-and-supports-2021 If you are evacuated and need […]

Community Fishing Notice: Mable Lake and Middle Shuswap River

August 4th, 2021

Fraser River Chinook are available for harvest in Mable Lake and at Shuswap Falls. The salmon fishery is open to members of the: Lower Similkameen Indian Band, Okanagan Indian Band, Osoyoos Indian band, Penticton Indian Band, Upper Nicola Band, Upper Similkameen Indian Band and the Westbank First Nation. This year the ONA fisheries department expects […]

Building a Better Future Bursary Receipents

July 29th, 2021

The ability of Syilx students to access post-secondary education is central to our Nation moving forward and our voices being heard. Each year the Okanagan Nation Alliance and Fortis BC provide two awards of $1200.00 to financially support eligible Syilx/ Okanagan Nation members enrolled or accepted into a recognized university or college on a full-time […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Celebrate Osoyoos Indian Band’s Land Purchase on the Lower Arrow Lakes

July 28th, 2021

snɬuxwqnm (Castlegar), Syilx Territory:  On July 28, 2021, the Syilx Okanagan Nation — including many Leaders, Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers — came together to celebrate the Osoyoos Indian Band’s recent acquisition of 9.5 acres of land along the Lower Arrow Lakes, just outside of snɬuxwqnm. We are grateful that our Traditional Knowledge Keepers and […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Gather and Stand for Unity at Annual General Assembly

July 27th, 2021

snɬuxwqnm (Castlegar), Syilx Territory:  From July 27 – 28, 2021, the Okanagan Nation Alliance hosted an Annual General Assembly in snɬuxwqnm. This event saw Syilx Okanagan members from across the Nation — including leaders, Elders, youth and community members —gather to celebrate the many successes that have taken place for our people over the last […]

Fish Passage Initiatives in 2021 at Okanagan Lake Dam in Penticton

June 30th, 2021

BACKGROUND/HISTORY: In 1997, the Syilx Community expressed serious concerns about the potential extinction of the Okanagan Sockeye population. At that time, returning Sockeye spawners had been reduced to a few thousand upstream of Osoyoos Lake. The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) has led Sockeye fry out-planting projects at Skaha and Okanagan lakes as part of a […]

Syilx Nation’s For the Children Caravan Unites the Nation and Demands Justice for All the Children Who Never Returned From Indian Residential Schools

June 27th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On June 26, 2021, a convoy of Syilx leaders, Indian Residential School survivors, their families (intergenerational), elders, members, and youth from across the Nation journeyed from sn’pinktn (Penticton) to the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This caravan is a direct response to the lack of justice in the face of recent discovery of the burial […]

Media Advisory: Syilx Nation’s For the Children Caravan Unites the Nation and Demands Justice for All the Children Who Never Returned From Indian Residential Schools

June 24th, 2021

 tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation’s ‘For the Children’ Caravan will start at 9:00 am on June 26, 2021, and will a convoy of Syilx leaders, Indian Residential School survivors, their families (intergenerational), elders, members, and youth from across the Nation journey from sn’pinktn (Penticton) to the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This caravan is a direct […]

Return of sc’win (sockeye) to Syilx Okanagan Territory

June 15th, 2021

Expect sc’win (sockeye) in nk’mip (Osoyoos Lake) within the next 6-9 days, and shortly thereafter, to sxʷ̌  əxʷnitkʷ (Ok Falls)! This year we are expecting a lower-than-average run of sc’win. Therefore, fisheries management recommendations will focus on food fisheries (trolling in Osoyoos Lake and angling at Okanagan Falls). Likelihood of a commercial fishery is very […]

Okanagan Nation’s Spirit of Syilx Unity Run Makes Emotional Journey to Kamloops Indian Residential School to Recognize All Children that Never Returned Home

June 8th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: From June 2-5 Syilx Nation members from across the territory ran out on the land as part of the Spirit of Syilx Unity Run. On Saturday, June 5, 2021, a special component of the run included an in-person event that went from nkm̓apəlqs (Head of the Lake) to the Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) […]

Spirit of Syilx Unity Run – Community Profile

June 5th, 2021

In 2009, Syilx youth had requested a Run to promote unity as well as bring awareness to the issues of suicide and violence within the Nation. From this the Spirit of Syilx Unity Run came to be. The annual run provides the opportunity to experience being out on the territory, being together as a Nation […]

The Spirit of Syilx Unity Run Recognizes All “Survivors”

June 2nd, 2021

The 13th Annual Spirit of Syilx Unity Run starts today June 2, and goes to June 7, 2021. After a small opening circle and prayer to kick off the run, this virtual event will see Syilx youth and members running out on the land in their own pods and communities, aimed at reaching the Kamloops […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Joins Other Nations Call for Accountability After Remains of 215 Residential School Victims Unearthed at Kamloops Indian Residential School

May 29th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation are shocked and profoundly saddened by the confirmation of 215 children’s remains found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School on Thursday, May 27, 2021.  Children from across many First Nation’s attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and this revelation is felt by every Syilx Okanagan family. This […]

Okanagan River Salmonid Sampling Near You

May 27th, 2021

snpintktn (Penticton), Syilx Okanagan Territory:   Okanagan Nation Alliance Fisheries biologists will be out sampling juvenile salmonids in the Okanagan River off-channel habitats between now and the end of this June. You’ll likely spot biologists in oxbows, side channels, floodplains, and other off-channel habitat along the main river between Okanagan and Osoyoos Lakes. Biologists will be […]