“The Okanagan Nation has accepted the unique responsibility bestowed upon us by the Creator to serve for all time as protectors of the lands and waters in our territories, so that all living things return to us regenerated. When we take care of the land and water, the land and water takes care of us. This is our law.”
Syilx Water Declaration excerpt
In July 2014, the Okanagan Nation Alliance endorsed the Syilx Water Declaration that was put forth by the Natural Resources Council, which will be a living document. Syilx Okanagan Nation communities have always recognized and nurtured a strong connection towards siwɬkʷ (water).
We were placed in a sacred manner upon this earth and charged to care for and protect all of our relations within our homelands especially our most sacred relative, siwɬkʷ. These responsibilities were given to us by the Creator, K̓ʷuləncútn and they have been upheld since the beginning of time by our ancestors. They now pass to us and our children through our grandmothers and grandfathers.
The Syilx Water Declaration serves as a living document on the Syilx/Okanagan relations and values to water. This document communicates the importance of water and responsibilities we have as Syilx/Okanagan people. The importance of water in Syilx/Okanagan communities and governance is related through captikwl and the natural laws. Syilx/Okanagan governance systems have always sustainably and respectfully managed water.
Water is recognized as an entity to be protected and shapes the norms of Syilx/Okanagan people. The natural laws of the land have been passed down through captikʷł. It is through captikʷł that the Syilx/Okanagan learn about their responsibilities to the water and land. The principles and responsibilities stated in the Syilx Water Declaration reflects the strong collective voice of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and it is our responsibility to move forward and act for siwɬkʷ for everyone in the Okanagan for perpetuity.