B.C. Court Confirms Rights in Arrow Lakes

March 27th, 2017

Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory, Westbank BC:  The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is welcoming the provincial court’s March 27, 2017 Desautel decision.

The decision arose as a result of hunting charges laid by the Province against Rick Desautel in 2010. The court acquitted Desautel and held that the descendants of the Sinixt continue to exist and hold rights in the Arrow Lakes.  The Sinixt had previously been declared extinct by the federal government back in the 1950’s.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the ONA stated that, “This is a historic win for us; the court has confirmed what we have always known – that the Sinixt were the original inhabitants of the Arrow Lakes region long before the Europeans arrived.  Descendants of the Sinixt are now part of the ONA in Canada and the Lakes Tribe in the U.S.  It should be clear to the Province now that the Arrow Lakes region falls squarely within our territory and is subject to our Title and Rights.”  Grand Chief Phillip further stated that, “four weeks of court time was taken up trying to figure out what the Indigenous history of the area is.  We, the Syilx Okanagan people hold the history of the area but because of the rules of the courtroom, we could not be there to bring forward our information.  We hold up our two elders, Richard Armstrong and Hazel Squakin, who were able to share some of their knowledge in support of Rick Desautel.”

Grand Chief Phillip further commented that, “Rick Desautel, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) in present-day Washington State, traces his ancestry to the Sinixt.  As colonization advanced and especially with the imposition of a boundary between the US and Great Britain, our Sinixt people were forced to choose which side of the border to live in.  Yet we are all related and we remain related to the present-day.  The ONA and CCT will continue to be united through our cultural, familial, territorial, economic and political ties.  Neither the Court’s decision nor an imaginary line at the 49th parallel can affect the relationships of our Sinixt people and the Title and Rights that belong to us.”

Grand Chief Phillip concluded by challenging the Province to properly engage in reconciliation.  “Since the hunting charges were filed against Rick Desautel back in 2013, we have called on the Premier to join us on the only path to certainty in the Arrow Lakes area.  We expect with this decision the Province will see the error of its courtroom ways and take up the invitation of our Chiefs to meet and put in place positive arrangements respectful of our Title and Rights.  It’s time for face to face courage at the negotiation table rather than hiding behind closed doors in the courtroom.”

The Okanagan Nation Alliance represents its member communities and is mandated to protect, advance and defend its collective Title and Rights.  The ONA member communities include thousands of members who are Sinixt descendants who historically lived in the Arrow Lakes area.

Media contact:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

Chairman, Okanagan Nation Alliance

Cell: 250-490-5314

A Letter of Gratitude on Terra Madre Day

February 3rd, 2017

As Terra Madre Day 2016 nears the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) would like to take the opportunity to thank Slow Food Thompson Okanagan, Slow Food Canada, Slow Food Turtle Island and Slow Food International’s continued support in sharing the story of the return our sc’win and advocating for indigenous food sovereignty in general.

At the core of our connection with Slow Food is a set of shared values around the deeper significance of food and food systems, not only for sustenance, but for the well-being and resilience of people, cultures and ecologies. The key tenants of Slow Food “good clean and fair” food resonates with our indigenous perspective and experience, particularly regarding social justice, conviviality and the sacred nature of food that connects all of us. On Terre Madre Day the Syilx Nation acknowledge the importance and significance of this day set aside for reflecting upon our actions. We stand with our sisters and brothers around the world in our hard work advancing food security efforts for our beautiful peoples, beautiful lands, resources, and sacred waters. We look forward to collectively furthering these practices in the year to come.

Okanagan Nation welcomes Grand Chief Ed John’s report on Aboriginal Child Welfare

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Renowned German Professor, Hartman Lutz at En’owkin Centre on Penticton Reserve

February 3rd, 2017

Hartman Lutz chaired the North American Studies Program at the University of Greifswald until March 2011. He gained his PhD in Philosphy from the University of Tubingen in 1975. Professor Lutz will reflect on his experiences working in Indigenous Studies and speak about and screen his film Trapped in a Human Zoo, a 2016 documentary about […]