News

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. Saunders was charged with just three of the thirteen charges issued against him, including only one case of fraud.

Such a gross display of behavior with few repercussions highlights the need for a comprehensive and systemic overhaul of the MCFD to ensure that our children receive the best support possible.  We demand accountability be taken and that best practices are put into action in a way that ensures the highest standard of care for Indigenous children.

“MCFD needs to take accountability for their complete failure in following through with their due diligence in ensuring they were hiring a true certified worker. They must put quality measures in place to ensure that such cases as these do not continue to take place. They need provide the structures that ensure that there are qualified, quality staff in place. Cases like that of Mr. Saunders puts children’s care at risk and a brings forward the need for more inclusion and participation by Syilx families and communities in the care of Syilx children,” stated y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Greg Gabriel, Syilx Child and Family Governance Representative…”Every Child Matters”

The Government of BC has feebly attempted to have accountability of MCFD with the creation of the BC Representative for Children and Youth (RCY).  We know that the RCY has published many reports with recommendations, most of which has not been action by the MCFD.  All children deserve the absolute best care, we call on the Government of BC to ensure this is completed now, no more apologies. To date the MCFD has not clearly stated whether they have contacted all the youth who were harmed by Saunders, and whether all entitled youths have received supports.

“The Saunders case has added to the long standing deep rooted history of ongoing injustices and systemic racism that our people suffer at the hands of MCFD. The atrocities our children, youth and families face on a daily basis by MCFD’s lack of quality assurances and cultural appropriateness persists on a daily basis.  There is a distinct parallel of MCFD’s ongoing wilful ignorance of the harms to our people by their system and the ongoing wilful ignorance of the government to recognize the truth of Indian Residential Schools and the real actions required for true reconciliation. The systems purporting to serve the “best interests” of our children and families requires a full-scale overhaul to transform the horrific outcomes our people experience.”  Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager stated.

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The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was formed in 1981 as the Tribal government for the Syilx Okanagan Nation.  The ONA”s mandate is to advance assert, support and preserve Syilx Okanagan Title and Rights.  Further, the ONA is charged with the forum to bring forward numerous interests and form positions on areas of common concern.  For more info on ONA’s Children and Families work, please visit: www.syilx.org/wellness/our-programs-and-services/children-and-families/

 

For information please contact:

y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair
T: 250-498-9132

y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Greg Gabriel, Penticton Indian Band, Syilx Child and Family Governance Representative
T: 250-490-7250


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 […]

Bringing the Salmon Home Festival May 10-16, 2021

May 4th, 2021

You’re invited! Participate online at ColumbiaRiverSalmon.ca For over 80 years salmon have been blocked by dams from returning to the upper Columbia River in the Kootenay region of British Columbia. The Columbia River was once the source of the greatest salmon runs in the world. Bringing the Salmon Home: The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative, […]

Grant to Help Planning to Protect Okanagan Lake

April 28th, 2021

A substantial grant will help with the multi-year collaborative planning effort to protect the environmental and cultural values of Okanagan Lake and its watershed. The Vancouver Foundation is providing $300,000 to the partnership that is developing the Okanagan Lake Responsibility Strategy: Okanagan Nation Alliance Regional District of Central Okanagan Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program South Okanagan […]

Supreme Court of Canada Confirms Aboriginal Rights in Arrow Lakes

April 23rd, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Chiefs of the Syilx Okanagan Nation welcome today’s decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Desautel, recognizing and protecting Sinixt Aboriginal hunting rights in B.C. Many members of our Syilx Okanagan Nation communities are descendants of Sinixt (sʔalt̕ik̓ʷt) people and we all share common language, culture, history, […]

Congratulations y̓ilmixʷm ki law na Chief Clarence Louie on being named as an Honorary Degree recipient from the University of British Columbia

March 31st, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Okanagan Territory: It is our Syilx tradition to celebrate the achievements of our people and we would like to celebrate the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) recognition of y̓ilmixʷm ki law na, Clarence Louie, as one of UBC’s 2021 Honorary Degree recipients. Today, we acknowledge and honor ki law na for this […]

Calling All Anglers To Report Catching Northern Pike In The Lower Columbia River

March 26th, 2021

snɬuxwqnm (Castlegar), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is calling all anglers to support suppression efforts of Northern Pike.  We request that all anglers catching Northern Pike in the nx̌ʷntk’ʷitkʷ (Columbia River), including the Pend d’Oreille, Kootenay, Columbia and Kettle Rivers report these catches to Evan Smith, ONA biologist: esmith@syilx.org, who also has more […]