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:, who also has more details.

Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries manager stated that “Northern Pike are known to have major impacts on aquatic ecosystems which includes current salmon returning to the Okanagan system and undoubtedly  future salmon restoration efforts in the Upper Columbia.  It’s important our programs continue to suppress and monitor.”

Signing up for this program will require information such as your catch including the date and location of capture, as well as length, weight, and photo of the catch that includes a date stamp and a locally recognized landmark. These reports greatly contribute to further Northern Pike suppression and monitoring efforts in the Columbia — as a large, adult female pike can produce upwards of a quarter million eggs in a year.  Anglers who partake and submit information will be put into a draw for $200, $100, or $50 Canadian Tire gift certificate at the end of the season in December 2021.

The ONA launched its Northern Pike suppression program in 2018 and continues to implement its program in suppression and monitoring of invasive Northern Pike in the Columbia. Our suppression efforts focus on pre-spawn adults in spring, and adult, juveniles and young-of-the-year. Capturing pre-spawn adults is an effective method of suppressing the population. In 2020 at least 144 pike were effectively removed from the Lower Columbia River and Pend d’Oreille River.

Funders of the Northern Pike Suppression Program include: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Columbian Basin Trust, Teck, Fortis, FWCP, and BC Hydro.


Detected in 2010 in the Columbia River in Castlegar, Northern Pike are suspected of originating from Montana and migrating downstream through the Pend d’Oreille system. Established populations now exist in the Robson Reach and the Kootenay River confluence areas, as well as downstream throughout Lake Roosevelt. They have been documented moving further downstream in the Columbia each year. For more information on the ONA’s Northern Pike Suppression program please visit:

For More Information Contact:
Michael Zimmer, ONA Biologist
T 250 304 7341       E

Pike Program Media Release

kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery Update

January 29th, 2021

Our sc’win (sockeye) alevins are almost all completely hatched. Once they hatch we add plastic rings bio-media (or synthetic media) to their incubation boxes, which mimics silt in the rivers. The newly hatched alevins (yolk sac fry) will burrow themselves into the silt for protection until they have utilized their yolk and can start feeding freely.

The alevin hide in the rings and can then utilize all their yolk for development. If we didn’t add the rings, they would constantly be swimming and they would use too much energy and therefore would not continue to develop properly. Once, the alevin have used almost all of their yolk sacs, they are ready to begin feeding.

To move them out to the rearing area, we utilize a unique “ponding” method. This method is called volitional release, and basically the fry swim out to their respective raceways for feeding all by themselves!!! No handling which reduces a lot of stress and mortality. Once they are in their raceway, we start the feeding process. We feed them all by hand, and around 8-10 times per day.

Okanagan Nation’s ‘Fish in Schools’ Program Educates Participants on Importance of Salmon in the Okanagan

January 18th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: Over the last week the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), as part of the Fish in Schools (FinS) program, delivered the final round of sc’win (sockeye salmon) eggs or fry to participating schools on Syilx territory.

In 2021 six schools from school district 53 (Oliver/Osoyoos/Cawston) will participate in the program. Each of the schools received 100 “eyed” sc’win sockeye eggs for their in-class incubators. Participating schools include: Osoyoos Elementary, Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary, Osoyoos Secondary, Southern Okanagan Secondary, Cawston Primary, and Oliver Elementary.  ­­­­

The Okanagan Correctional Centre also received FinS eggs for the second consecutive year. This year the staff and inmates involved with the FinS program purchased two more additional “in-class” incubators, bring the number of aquarium incubators in the prison to — two for Sockeye, and one for Chinook.

ONA’s FinS program illustrates the ONA’s commitment and leadership in salmon restoration throughout the territory. It is a comprehensive fish education program for school students, with a focus on sc’win (sockeye salmon), their lifecycle and the importance o­­­­­f their ecosystems. By creating greater awareness of fish species, the intent is for students to become educated and aware of both salmon, their habitat and surrounding ecosystem.

The eggs are raised by participants until they are fry in the early spring. Upon successfully raising the sc’win fry they will be included in the Syilx Okanagan ceremonial releases throughout the Syilx Territory.


The Fish in Schools program has been running successfully since 2003 in the Okanagan region, and contributes to the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery’s fry release efforts. The kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titx(Salmon) – one of our Four Food Chiefs – to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory. Opened in 2014, the 25,000 square foot hatchery has the capacity to rear 8 million eggs. It is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for 5 million eggs from brood stock management until fry release.

For More Information Contact:
Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager
Tel: (250) 718-5215

MEDIA RELEASE – Okanagan FinS 2021

Okanagan Nation Raises Awareness of Salmon Restoration in the Columbia with the ‘Fish in Schools’ Program

January 13th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory:

Five groups, including four schools, in the Columbia region received salmon eggs, from the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery, last week as part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance Fish in Schools (FinS) Program. FinS is a comprehensive fish education program for youth, with a focus on salmon, their lifecycle and the importance of their ecosystems. By creating greater awareness of fish species, the intent is for students to become future advocates for both salmon and their habitat. The program has been significantly scaled down compared to last year, in which we had 16 programs in the Columbia, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A significant milestone for the FinS program in the Columbia this year is that we have provided chinook salmon eggs to the two original pilot schools (Twin Rivers Elementary, Castlegar, and Glenmerry Elementary, Trail).

“Chinook are significant in that they represent n’titxw – Chief Salmon – one of the four Syilx Food Chiefs. The presence of chinook in the Upper Columbia after an absence of 80 years is a remarkable cultural and ecological achievement,” Chief Keith Crow, Lower Similkameen Indian Band, states.

Chinook populations in the Okanagan River are currently at the forefront of additional restoration efforts underway by the ONA, and provided this opportunity to access Chinook eggs through the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery.

In the Columbia Region, 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 major tributaries the Salmo River and Slocan River. This program is another illustration of the ONA’s commitment to leading salmon restoration throughout all parts of Syilx territory.

The ONA upholds their responsibility to the tmixw (all living things), our Syilx Okanagan traditional ecological knowledge systems and actively involve our knowledge keepers that inform our interactions on the land – balanced with the incorporation of western science. Through the integration of these two systems, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) has been persistent in ensuring that we are restoring and rejuvenating the habitats and ecosystems of the Upper Columbia and Okanagan Basin in the most dynamic way possible. We engage both traditional knowledge and cutting-edge science to contribute to protecting and advancing a biodiverse environment. FinS is a key step in the Syilx Nation’s broader intent to raise awareness and bring salmon back to their original range, having been blocked from returning by dams along the Columbia River in the 1940s.


The Fish in Schools program has run successfully since 2003 in the Okanagan region, and contributes to the kł cpə̓ lk) stim̓ Hatchery’s fry release efforts. The kł cpə̓ lk, stim̓ Hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titxw (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

MEDIA RELEASE – Columbia FinS 2021

The Syilx Okanagan Nation Congratulates Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem, Q.C. on Appointment to the British Columbia Supreme Court

December 21st, 2020

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory – December 21, 2020:  The Chiefs of the Syilx Okanagan Nation offer their congratulations to Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem, Q.C. on her appointment as a justice to the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Syilx Okanagan Nation Tribal Chair, Chief Clarence Louie provided the following comment, “On behalf of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, I am pleased to offer my congratulations to Ardith Walpetko We’dalx Walkem on her appointment to the BC Supreme Court. Justice Walkem is the first First Nations woman to be appointed to this bench,” He further stated that, “Justice Walkem is deeply respected amongst First Nations leadership, including the Syilx Okanagan Nation, for her advocacy and pursuit of justice for First Nations people. We wish her the very best in her many years to come as a Supreme Court Justice.”

Justice Walkem, Q.C. grew up in Spences Bridge, B.C., and is a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation. After completing a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s Studies at McGill, she attended law school at the University of British Columbia. She also earned a Master of Laws degree from UBC with a research focus on Indigenous laws.

Madam Justice Walkem articled at Mandell Pinder and McDonald and Associates. Practising with Cedar and Sage Law, she has worked extensively with Indigenous communities and organizations to support them in asserting their Aboriginal Title Rights and Treaty Rights. She is a mediator who also works within Indigenous dispute-resolution mechanisms. Her work has focused on the rights of children. She authored “Wrapping Our Ways Around Them: Indigenous Communities Child Welfare” (for the ShchEma-mee.tkt project) to support Indigenous communities in implementing their own child welfare laws or to work within existing child welfare regimes and to educate the legal community on how to work effectively with Indigenous peoples.

For further information, please contact:

Chief Clarence Louie, Tribal Chair

T: 250-498-9132

BC Supreme Court Appointment of Ardith Walkem


November 21st, 2020

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory:  The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is proud to announce the acquisition of nearly $500,000 from the Ending Violence Association of BC, with the funds going towards a Sexual Assault Response Services Program over the next three years.

These funds will build on the longstanding work already carried out by the ONA’s You Empowered Strong (YES) program, which actively supports Syilx Okanagan Nation individuals, families and communities who are dealing with the impacts of trauma caused by violence, including sexual assault and human trafficking. On June 3rd, 2019, “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report on the National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” was released ,outlining 231 Calls to Justice.  These calls demand specific actions to address the current, systemic issues that Indigenous communities experience, and that contribute to the on-going violence towards Indigenous women and girls, including the development of “self-determined and Indigenous-led solutions and services”.   In 2015 the ONA Wellness committee identified the needs to address family violence in the Okanagan Nation, and in Response the YES Program was launched.  On July 18th, 2019, the ONA CEC passed a Tribal Council Resolution to further support the Final Reports Call to Justice, and the continuation of the YES Program.

Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Chairman, states that “The roots of violence toward Syilx women and girls can be traced back to the trauma and systemic racism that communities have experienced over years of colonization. The ONA remains committed to ensuring that Syilx individuals and families across the Nation have proper support, safety, and healing. Through such initiatives as this we are taking decisive action to provide access to community-driven, culturally appropriate and effective services. This work must continue.”


You Empowered Strong (YES) is a program that addresses the need for community-based solutions for Syilx Nation individuals, families and communities who are dealing with the impacts of trauma caused by violence, including sexual assault and human trafficking, and are wanting to address the impacts in a safe, culturally appropriate way. Each community determines how they provide the service based on individual community needs. Prevention and education opportunities are available to communities to enhance knowledge around the many forms of violence and its impacts, personal safety, trauma informed practice among others.


For further information please contact:

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead

T: 1-250-862-6866  E:

Media Release – YES Funding

Syilx Okanagan Nation Stands in Solidarity with the Mi’kmaq Nation and the Sipekne’katik First Nation in Protecting and Exercising Their Fishing and Governance Rights

October 19th, 2020

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Okanagan Territory: The Chiefs of the Syilx Okanagan Nation have watched with distress as Mi’kmaq fishers, including members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, have been subjected to violence, intimidation, terror and racism as they seek to exercise their inherent, human and constitutionally protected rights, including treaty rights.

Canadians pride themselves on living in a Nation that is supposedly founded on the rule of law. For over twenty years, since the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R v Marshall, it has been settled law in Canada that the Mi’kmaq have a constitutionally protected treaty right to fish for a Moderate Livelihood. Despite this, those who readily point to the rule of law as justification for forcibly removing and imprisoning Indigenous land and water defenders for protecting their territories, remain deafeningly silent in the face of the abhorrent violence currently taking place in Mi’kma’ki. It is apparent that Canada’s laws do not serve to equally protect all of those who live within its imposed borders. We cannot and will not stay silent in the face of this terror.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan and the RCMP’s inaction in Mi’kma’ki has not gone unnoticed. Throughout Canada’s history we have seen that when Indigenous people organize and stand for our rights we are quickly confronted by the military or militarized RCMP officers tasked with protecting the interests of those who seek to exploit us and our territories. In the past few days video has emerged from Mi’kma’ki showing Mi’kmaq (including Chiefs and elders), being assaulted, Mi’kmaq property being destroyed and mobs intimidating Mi’kmaq fishers for doing that which they have an inherent and constitutionally protected right to do. Where is the military and RCMP response now? Where is Canada’s urgency and alarm?

“This racist double standard must be called out and it must cease. We call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan and the RCMP to take immediate and decisive action to ensure that no more violence occurs and that the Mi’kmaq may exercise their inherent and constitutionally protected rights without concern for their own safety, or the safety of their property,” stated Chief Executive Council Tribal Chair, Chief Clarence Louie.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation will be organizing actions in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq for as long as our solidarity is needed. We will not sit in silence as the inherent, human and constitutionally protected rights of our First Nations relatives on the east coast are violated with impunity.

For more information please contact:

ki law na Ylmixwm Clarence Louie


Okanagan Nation Alliance

Tel: 1-250-498-9132

Press Release re. violence in Mi’kma’ki


Community Notice – kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Initiative Broodstock Update

October 6th, 2020

If you had been down to q̓awsitkw (Okanagan River) you may have noticed many of the waters red with sockeye salmon. These salmon are part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s (ONA) Sockeye restoration efforts — reintroducing sc’win (Okanagan sockeye) back to their historic range — including to t’iwcən (Skaha) Lake and kłusənitkw (Okanagan) Lake.  These efforts are part of the ONA CEC’s ongoing commitment to care for Syilx lands and resources, including responsibility to our sacred waters and the food sovereignty that they provide.

As part of this initiative we will be conducting broodstock — which involves beach seining and collecting eggs and milt from adult sc’win for rearing at the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery and release in the coming year.  In 2004, ONA began stocking t’iwcən (Skaha Lake) (and kłusənitkw (Okanagan Lake) in 2017) with hatchery-reared fry and monitored their growth, survival, and interactions on kokanee populations. From 2014 forward ONA has been rearing the fry for release at the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery.

The ONA Fisheries Team will begin pre-season collection at q̓awsitkw (Okanagan River) on October 7, with full-season collection taking place from October 13 to the end of the month. The current run forecast estimates that we could see one of the highest returns of sockeye since the reintroduction program began in 2004.

We will provide further updates as the broodstock season proceeds, including the numbers on how many eggs are harvested this year for salmon conservation.

Broodstock During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The ONA is committed to reducing exposure of both the staff and public to COVID-19.

Due to the pandemic broodstock and hatchery school tours have been canceled during the 2020 season. The ONA has reduced the size of crews and beach seine nets to prevent the spread of the virus amongst staff.

For more information contact:

Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Program Manager


Phone: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 104

Broodstock Notification 2020

Media Release: On the Way to Transforming Primary Care

September 25th, 2020

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation Chief’s Executive Council is pleased to support the recent implementation of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) on Syilx territory, in collaboration and partnership with Syilx communities.  Kootenay Boundary and Central Okanagan PCNs have already been announced, adding to the previously implemented South Okanagan PCN partnership with Penticton Indian Band.  The upcoming actions includes South Okanagan PCN Planning with Lower and Upper Similkameen Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band; North Okanagan PCN with Okanagan Indian Band; Nicola Valley with Upper Nicola Band; and Revelstoke PCN.  Access to community-based, culturally appropriate primary care services is crucial to the ongoing health of our Syilx citizens and Aboriginal people residing throughout our territory.

Accessibility is an ongoing challenge, with many of our member communities not having regular access to culturally appropriate primary care services.  Trauma, colonization and poverty have played key roles in the limited access to primary care.  The relationship between Indigenous people and health care services has been tenuous.   With the recent announcement of Minister Dix on addressing racism in health care settings, collaborative, culturally appropriate planning and services remains a priority.

While the Primary Care planning process has had its challenges, there are some major achievements — additional FTE’s of family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, Aboriginal health coordinators and allied health professionals are to be celebrated.  Our members are able to access service in their own community, community relationships with health care providers are able to be built upon, overall improving the health of our members.

The planning process has allowed relationships to be developed and enhanced with the sharing of the reality of health care services in our communities and addressing our community priorities.  Our community health teams have been managing with very little resources and with partnerships are able to provide fuller primary care services in community.

The Kootenay Boundary Aboriginal Services Collaborative was developed to provide a space for Aboriginal people in the area to collaborate for PCNs and other service planning that is a major accomplishment for collaborative planning in the area. While our Nation continues to advocate for a level playing field for health care planning in terms of resources, time, capacity building partnerships, we remain hopeful about the transformation of primary care in Syilx territory.

“Access to health care is crucial to the ongoing wellbeing and social determinants of health for Syilx members, early and good access to primary care can minimize ongoing health and mental health concerns, “ Allan Louis, Syilx Health Governance Representative stated.

Article 21.2 of the UN Declaration Indigenous Peoples outlines that “states shall take effective measure and where appropriate, special measures to ensure the continuing improvement of economic and social conditions.  With particular attention to rights and special needs of indigenous youth, children and persons with disabilities.”

To read about Primary Care Strategy in BC visit:

For further information please contact:

Allan Louis, Syilx FNHA Representative // 1-250-306-8360


Media Release: `A Way to Cope: Exploring Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in B.C. Youth’

September 18th, 2020

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation Chief’s Executive Council acknowledge A Way to Cope: Exploring Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in BC Youth released today by BC’s Representative for Children and Youth (RCY). The RCY had identified non-suicidal self-injury as a trend requiring closer examination. This report hits home highlighting many long standing, critical issues and gaps in service for BC’s youth with the intention of informing decision-makers, service providers and the public.

Serious concerns with BC’s system of care for children and youth with mental health support needs is not new and the Province must recognize the urgency of finding the path forward as outlined in their commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The RCY has released many reports calling for vast changes within the service delivery system and  the reports are clear, the system is not effectively supporting our youth and as a result, they are left disconnected and in crises, some resulting in death.

Article 21.2 of the UN Declaration Indigenous Peoples outlines that “states shall take effective measure and where appropriate, special measures to ensure the continuing improvement of economic and social conditions.  With particular attention to rights and special needs of indigenous youth, children and persons with disabilities.”

It is reprehensible to learn that cultural connections were viewed as secondary considerations or less, ignoring how cultural connections could serve as a protective factor while multiple reports and best practice research has shown that culturally appropriate care is connected to better outcomes.  The blatant disregard of cultural considerations is unacceptable, our people been calling for the very implementation of cultural ways that have been developed and implemented since time immemorial.

There is a dire need for a fulsome transformation of the mental health system supporting the needs of our children and youth.  One of the report findings is that support is identifying children and youth as unwilling to engage, however it is likely that practitioners do not know how to support and our children and youth are left without critical resources.

Our children and youth are the core of our families and communities; it will take determined action by all people to ensure their proper support, safety and healing.  Syilx families, communities and Nation remain committed to addressing the issues, there is a requirement for partnership, collaboration and acknowledgement that it cannot be done alone.  The work must continue.

We appreciate the work of the RCY, continuing to bring light to these issues and advocating on behalf of children and youth in BC. We uphold our duty and obligation to fully protect, defend, uphold and advance the protection, health and wellbeing of our children and families, as such, we immediately call on the Provincial and Federal Governments to ensure adequate funding to fully transform the mental health system serving children and youth

To read the full report visit:

For further information please contact:

Chief Keith Crow, Lower Similkameen Indian Band, ONA CEC Child & Family: 1-250-499-9333

Allan Louis, Syilx FNHA Representative: 1-250-306-8360

Media Release – RCY “A Way to Cope”