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 sites of 215 children at Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) and 751 children at the Marieval Indian Residential School reported by the Cowessess First Nation. This Caravan gathered our people together in unity to support the survivors and each other through the emotional impacts of the recent findings. It also brought awareness to all those that are just now finding their relatives, as well as demonstrating our support for and alliance with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.

As the Caravan went through various municipalities it drew out supporters and allies that acknowledged  the Caravan from the sides of the roads. The Caravan ended with a powerful ceremony at KIRS, including a song led by Syilx children and youth, a clear statement of resilience of Syilx culture in the face of colonial violence.

Chief Clarence Louie states that, “Today we have come together as a Nation to support each other, our families and ultimately our Nation. The truth of the matter is that these missing children have been known about all along, our Syilx Indian Residential School survivors has been calling it out for years. To date, the Government of Canada has failed at taking any meaningful action or accountability for these atrocities.  At this point we are demanding local, provincial and federal officials finally step up to the plate, take direct action on finding justice for these children, and begin implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action.”

Syilx Indian Residential School survivors recently demanded at an Indian Residential School Gathering that “Colonial institutions like residential schools have tried to rob us of our identity, but we are resilient. We need to continue to gather as we always have to continue to pass our culture and language down so that we can thrive for generations to come.”

~

The Syilx Indian Residential School (SIRS) Committee is a group of highly dedicated, intergenerational Syilx Indian Residential School survivors. The SIRS Committe is invaluable in providing direction to the Nation on numerous projects regarding the Indian Residential Schools. This Committee, represented by the seven member communities, has expressed that they feel a sense of belonging and healing from participating on this Committee. They have a true ownership role in ensuring projects move forward, taking into account their knowledge and experience. For more information on the Syilx Indian Residential School experience visit: www.syilx.org/wellness/indian-residential-school/

For more information contact:
Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 120
E:tmontgomery@syilx.org

MEDIA RELEASE – For the Children Caravan


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 response to the lack of justice in the face of recent discovery of the burial sites of 215 children at Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) and 715 children at the Marieval Indian Residential School reported by the Cowessess First Nation, alongside many others nationwide. It gathers our people together in unity and support the survivors and each other through the emotional impacts of the recent findings. It also brings awareness to all those just now finding their relatives, alongside showing our support for and alliance with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. A ceremony at the Kamloops Indian Residential School will take place after the caravan.

We all have a role to play. Non-Syilx allies interested in contributing can:

EDUCATE

Educating yourself on the history and ongoing impacts of the Indian Residential School system is foundational to becoming an ally. For a wealth of resources regarding the Syilx Indian Residential School experience visit: www.syilx.org/wellness/indian-residential-school/. The ONA’s “Take the Indian Out the Child” book can also be purchased at: https://www.syilx.org/shop/

ADVOCATE

We are calling on all Canadian citizens to contact your local, provincial, and federal elected officials to demand that they act on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report Calls to Action. To learn more about the TRC and it’s findings visit: http://www.trc.ca/

PARTICIPATE

Non-Syilx allies looking to support the Caravan on June 26th are asked to line Highway 97 close to your nearest caravan location and times (provided below) to cheer on the participants. You can also donate to the Syilx Indian Residential School Committee by e-transfering donations to etransfertd@syilx.org, using the password “nation”. Please indicate in the comment box that it is for the SIRSC.

For more information or media interested in covering the Caravan please contact:

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

Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager
T: 250-826-7844
E: wellness.manager@syilx.org

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead

T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 120

E: tmontgomery@syilx.org

Syilx Okanagan members interested in joining the Caravan should contact:

Raven Mikuletic, ONA Event Planner

T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 12

E: events.support@syilx.org

CARAVAN TIMES & START LOCATIONS
The time listed below is the time that vehicles should be departing. Please arrive 20-30 mins prior to that time.

South Okanagan Events Centre | 9:00 AM
853 Eckhardt Ave W, Penticton, BC

Westbank First Nation Office | 9:50 AM
515 Hwy 97 South Kelowna BC

Vernon Okanagan College Campus | 10:50 AM
7000 College Way, Coldstream, BC

Douglas Lake Road | 11:40 AM
Douglas Lake Road, Westwold, BC

Kamloops Petro-Pass  | 12:10 PM
175 Kokanee Way, Kamloops, BC

Kamloops Indian Residential School | 12:30 PM
330 Chief Alex Thomas Way, Kamloops BC

Ceremony at Kamloops Indian Residential School | 1:00 PM

MEDIA ADVISORY – For the Children Caravan


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 low.

An estimated 1% (3,816) adult sockeye were counted at Bonneville Dam upstream of the mouth of Columbia River on June 13, 2021.  In-season forecasts for returning sockeye to Bonneville Dam is expected at 112,600 adults, of which 80-85% are migrating to the Okanagan (Osoyoos, Skaha, and Okanagan Lake). We anticipate 31,000 to 62,000 adults migrating into Osoyoos Lake between end of June through early October.

Based on fisheries management, a food fishery will be open to all Syilx Okanagan members.

Call for Syilx Okanagan Nation members to participate in sockeye monitoring research

As part of our monitoring efforts, ONA fisheries creelers and biologists will be on site soliciting members to participate in sockeye research at the fishing grounds in OK falls, Osoyoos lake, and McIntyre Dam. For those Syilx members interested in participating we will be requesting permission to sample adult fish you catch to:  recover tags, take a small DNA samples, measurement the length, and ear bones for aging. Your participation is greatly appreciated as it informs our work in enhancing and protecting salmon stocks.

If you notice tags in a fish or have any other questions please contact:
Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager
e: hwright@syilx.org
t: 1-250-718-5215

ONA_Fishery_ Notice_2021


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) on Tk’emlups te Secwepemc territory, in just one day, and was a recognition for all the children that never returned from the KIRS.  For participants in this year’s Unity Run was particularly emotional and hard hitting as many are the children and grandchildren of Indian Resident School Survivors.

“Watching our youth run for the 215 children that never made it home was a humbling and emotional experience. It was healing for our people, healing for our survivors, and lifted the hearts of a Nation in mourning. Witnessing this historic run and to be welcomed with song and ceremony by Tk’emlups te Secwepemc people is something we will all remember. It was an historic event, that was led by our youth, and inspired by the 215 children. Limlemt to all those who participated and to those who organized this historic event,” Chief Chris Derickson states.

Leaders from multiple Nations — alongside Syilx Okanagan members — welcomed the runners as they crested over the hill at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, including y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Keith Crow (LSIB) and y̓il̓mixʷm Chris Derickson (WFN) from the Syilx Okanagan Nation, kukpi Rosanne Casimir, Councillor Marie Baptiste and Councillor Jeanette Jules of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation and kukpi Judy Wilson from the Neskonlith Indian Band.

As we wrap up this event we recognize that actions such as these support our youth and ensure that they are able to affirm a better life moving forward, while also raising awareness of the colonial violence that our people have faced and continue to face.

~

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 Syilx Okanagan Nation. The annual run provides the opportunity to experience being out on the territory, being together as a Nation as a means to address a broad range of community and societal issues from suicide and mental health to cultural rejuvenation and reconnection with nationhood and the land. It also brings together youth to create awareness, cultivate pride, and promotes the continuation of Syilx culture for generations to come.

For more information contact:
Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 120
E: tmontgomery@syilx.org

MEDIA RELEASE – Unity Run Goes to 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 as a means to address a broad range of community and societal issues from suicide and mental health to cultural rejuvenation and reconnection with nationhood and the land. It also brings together youth to create awareness, cultivate pride, and promotes the continuation of Syilx culture for generations to come.

cewelna (Leon Louis) and Grouse (Wilfred) Barnes are members of the Okanagan Nation Response Team, a team made up of community members that support the Nation communities to prevent and respond to suicide, suicidal behavior and other crisis, for numerous years utilizing their cultural knowledge and perspectives. It is through this role that they have been a guiding presence on the run year after year.

“By running on the land our people are connecting to each other, to the tmxʷulaxʷ, and to all of our ancestors. When they are on the Run we are teaching them about our culture, place names, our captikwł, it gives them an identity of who they are. To be proud of who they are.” – Grouse (Wilfred) Barnes

As the cultural support people on the Run they often gather the participants to give teachings rooted in our Syilx worldview (when we are able to gather in person)— shining a light on the transformative power of prayers and intentions while they leave their footprints across Syilx territory. Whether it has been through sharing captikwl or parts of the language, they have worked tirelessly to provide hundreds of Unity Run participants with a sense of pride and honor in being Syilx. There is probably no better show of this support than in how they pass the feather off to the first runner to launch the event every year.

cewelna is also a member of the Syilx Indian Residential School Committee, so this year the run has a special weight and importance — as this year we run for the 215 children who never made it home from the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

“The people who went [to Indian Residential Schools] encountered a lot of hurts and pains. When they had children, they passed that on to them. And then their children pass it on. It’s in our genes, the hurts and pains we’ve been through. When we begin to heal, then we don’t pass these on. Then it’s not in our genes anymore.” —Leon Louis, Son of Leonard Louis, who attended Indian Residential School

As we face a particularly heartbreaking moment in our Nation, and take on the pain unearthed from the findings at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, such words give us hope and guidance as we grapple with the violence that our communities have faced.

In 2018 the Okanagan Nation Alliance and this Committee released the ‘Take the Indian Out the Child’ book, which gathered stories from Syilx Indian Residential School survivors and their families and told the story of the extremely violent and forced assimilation that they faced at these institutions. To learn more about the Syilx Indian Residential School experience visit: www.syilx.org/wellness/indian-residential-school/

#forthepeople

Spirit of Syilx Unity Run – Community Profile


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 Indian Residential school (KIRS)— to raise awareness about the disproportionate rates of violence and suicide that our communities confront.

This year’s Unity Run has a particular weight and importance as our Nation collectively grieves the recent uncovering of a mass grave of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Many syilx Indian Residential School Survivors are alive today, and were forcibly removed from their families and sent to KIRS. As the level of these atrocities and attempted genocide are made public, they shed light on deep wounds that our people have known about all along, as well as the intergenerational abuse, trauma and violence our Nation continues to endure.

Chief Chris Derickson opened the event, stating “We all know the violence that’s been committed against our people for centuries, and now we have the memory of 215 children that never made it home, and it’s our job to honor the memory of these children. It’s our job to make sure that the next generation lives a better life than this one, and the one that never made it. And I’m asking our Nation, our people, to really take it seriously, when we say that we are running to raise awareness for suicide prevention and violence prevention. The most terrible of which is the violence we commit against each other as Indigenous people in our communities. How we talk to one another. How we interact with one another. There are behaviors that can no longer be tolerated. If we’re going to honor the memory of these 215 children that never made it home, let’s make our homes better, let’s make our communities better, let’s make our Nation better, by honoring one another and treating each other as Syilx people. Understanding that how we treat each other determines the lives that our children will live.”

In the face of these traumas, Syilx people are gaining strength every day. As a Nation, we are working to reclaim and restore our traditional Syilx ways of being and knowing. We are the unconquered people of this land and have lived with our mother earth from the beginning of time. As runners lay their footprints down on the tmxʷulaxʷ (land) over the coming days they are affirming our inherent connection to the tmxʷulaxʷ and culture, while also connecting to ancestors. This Run not only raises awareness on these issues of violence, but also instills pride and the continuation of our Syilx culture and nsyilxcen language for generations to come.

__________

For our ancestors

For the tmixʷ that missed our presence

For the tmxʷulaxʷ that was calling us home

For the parents and grandparents who were robbed of their children

For the children who were taken away

For the families who bore their pain

For the generations of loss of language and culture

For those who never had a chance to speak

For those who choose not to speak

For those who have spoken and continue to speak

For all those effected by Indian residential school

For all our grandchildren, for all time.

Spirit of Syilx Unity Run Communications

 


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 horrifying discovery has confirmed what our survivors and families have known and feared all along, that the violence and abuse far exceeded what was previously reported.

“The legacy of the Indian Residential School system has had devastating impacts on the Syilx Okanagan Nation that continue to be felt today. The level of inhumane and criminal treatment of First Nation’s children at the hands of colonial governments and organized religion is deeply disturbing. We are calling on the Province of British Columbia and Government of Canada to directly address these atrocities,” stated Chief Clarence Louie.

While the families, communities and Nations process this unthinkable discovery, it is important to remember the intense grief that Syilx Okanagan people and all Indian Residential School survivors will feel over the coming days, weeks, months and years. The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Chief and Council hosted an Urgent Chiefs meeting today, in which Chief Clarence Louie added “I want to thank the Tk’emlups Chief and Council for arranging this meeting and inviting us to do and share what needs to be done,” and affirmed that “the Syilx Okanagan Nation are ready to participate and support wherever possible.”

As part of a collective, Nation-wide response, the Syilx Indian Residential School Committee is also asking that all members reach out to survivors and family members to check in and see if they need support. There are also cultural and social support and resources in our respective communities, our spiritual and cultural leaders in our Nations and communities.

As more information is received and preparations for ceremonies and more meetings continue we will keep you posted.

~

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society has a 24/7 emergency crisis: 1-800-721-0066. KU-US Crisis Line Society also provides a 24-hour provincial Indigenous crisis line: Adults call 250-723-4050; children and youth call 250-723-2040; or toll-free 1-800-588-8717.

For further information please contact:
Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair
T:  250-498-9132

Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager
T: 250-826-7844
E: wellness.manager@syilx.org

MEDIA RELEASE – 215 Residential School Remains Uncovered


Syilx Okanagan Nation Call For Protection ki?lawna? (Grizzly Bear) After a Mother and Cub Spotted in the Okanagan

May 20th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On May 11, 2021, a Kelowna resident filmed a rare sighting of a ki?lawna? (grizzly bear) mother and cub north of the city. Tragically, the bears were recorded eating garbage left on site.

For the Syilx people, ki?lawna? are a significant part of our laws and protocols. They are an important part of our creation stories that remind us of our responsibilities to our tmuxlawx (land). For generations, habitat fragmentation, ecosystem degradation and a number of other factors have contributed to the decline of ki?lawna?. Their declining population throughout Syilx Okanagan territory demonstrates that the health and security of the landscape is in dire need of protection.

ki?lawna? are an integral and critical part of Syilx Okanagan Nation culture since the beginning of time. The Syilx Okanagan territory was once home to a thriving population of ki?lawna?, however today they are often said to be extirpated from the area. In 2014, Syilx Okanagan Nation’s Chief Executive Council implemented a mandate to protect and recover ki?lawna? throughout our territory. We continue to implement this important work through a number of initiatives, including monitoring of an existing population of ki?lawna? in the Okanagan area. Monitoring efforts in the Okanagan region further assist in securing much needed funding and capacity to protect and manage their habitat,” states ki?lawna? (Chief Clarence Louie).

ki?lawna? have previously been thought to be extirpated from this part of Syilx Okanagan territory. However, ONA is working to document a population in the area, in partnership with FLNRORD and Environment Canada and Climate Change. Additionally, ONA leads the recovery of grizzly bears in the North Cascades, one of two critically endangered populations. We are also actively restoring important grizzly bear habitat in the Kettle Granby area, bordering the Okanagan to the south-east. Through these monitoring, recovery and restoration initiatives, ONA is working to meet our mandate to recover and protect grizzly bears throughout the region.

For further information, or to report a grizzly bear sighting, please contact:

Cailyn Glasser, MSc, ONA Natural Resource Manager
t: 1.250.707.0095 ext.213  c: 250-469-1595
e: cglasser@syilx.org

MEDIA RELEASE – Grizzly Bear Sighting


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, the Indigenous-led project of the Syilx Okanagan, Ktunaxa and Secwépemc Nations, in partnership with Canada and BC, is exploring innovative ways to bring the salmon back.

Learn more about this vital work through the Bringing the Salmon Home Festival May 10-16, 2021 happening online at ColumbiaRiverSalmon.ca. The free online events include keynote presentations, salmon cooking classes, and sessions on food sovereignty and food security, Indigenous knowledge and western science, storytelling, and discussions with artists, musicians and poets.

Be first in line to register for the free festival events. See the full program at ColumbiaRiverSalmon.ca

Chief Keith Crow of the Syilx Okanagan Nation says, “The Syilx Okanagan Nation have a long-standing and successful record of salmon reintroduction in the Okanagan system of the Columbia watershed, with upwards of 500,000 sockeye now returning annually. We know, from decades of experience, that we do have the technology, and also that partnerships and collaboration are central to salmon restoration. The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative will take the same dedication to collaborative work, now with the other two Nations, to bring salmon back to the upper Columbia River region. We know reintroducing the salmon can be done, despite the many challenges.”

Kukpi7 Wayne Christian of the Secwepemc Nation says, “This Initiative is about providing both salmon and hope for our common future. As Indigenous Nations we know that this work is feasible. And it is our sacred responsibility. We’re excited to be co-hosting this Bringing the Salmon Home Festival as part of engaging community members in this important work.”

Sandra Luke, Chair of the Lands and Resources Sector Council of the Ktunaxa Nation Council, says,“Bringing the salmon home will require innovative and creative solutions from both technical experts and traditional knowledge holders from the three Nations. It is vital we work together with all governments to ensure we can find a way to bring salmon back to our homelands. The Bringing the Salmon Home Festival and The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative are tremendous opportunities to showcase the importance of salmon to the Ktunaxa Nation, as well as to work collaboratively to achieve the goal of bringing the salmon back.”

For more information, please contact:

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 120
E: tmontgomery@syilx.org


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 Similkameen Conservation Program

The strategy will enhance the ways of caring for, protecting, and restoring the values and interests of the Okanagan Lake shoreline and watershed tributaries. When complete, the strategy will provide the knowledge and expertise to assist with new land-use planning decisions that support common, consistent, and collaborative approaches to protect shoreline natural areas, prepare for and mitigate climate impacts, and promote sustainable development.

The partnership is key to the projects’ success and holds the greatest potential for finding solutions to complex land use issues. This initiative plans to shift the existing planning processes and outcomes through the support of project partners that include differing perspectives, a collective understanding, and a shared approach to the issues in the watershed.

It’s envisioned that communities across the Okanagan region and all levels of government will benefit from this unique, unified – Syilx led framework that aims to:

  • Address cumulative impacts of shoreline and upland development
  • Promote Best Management Practices and leadership in watershed governance
  • Provide learning and knowledge sharing opportunities

The initiative has received support from the Syilx Okanagan Nation, three Okanagan Regional Districts, and seven local governments. Other active partners include the Province of BC, the Okanagan Basin Water Board, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, UBC Okanagan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Contacts:
Cailyn Glasser
Natural Resources Manager
Okanagan Nation Alliance
250-707-0095

Scott Boswell
Program Manager
Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program
250-718-4096

Brittany Lange
Environmental Planner
Regional District of Central Okanagan
250-469-6149

Media Release – Okanagan Lake Grant


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, traditions and ancestry. As a result, this confirmation that Sinixt rights continue to exist in Syilx Okanagan Territory is critically important to our Nation, particularly given the Crown’s denial of those rights over many generations.    

The case was an appeal of the BC Court of Appeal’s decision that upheld that Richard DeSautel, a member of the Lakes Tribe of the Confederated Colville Tribes and a United States citizen, has an Aboriginal right to hunt in the Arrow Lakes area of British Columbia.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the Province’s appeal and confirmed some key legal principles:

  • The purposes of s. 35(1) are to recognize the prior occupation of Canada by Aboriginal societies and to reconcile their modern-day existence with the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty over them.
  • The honour of the Crown is engaged in its relationship with Aboriginal people and reconciliation is an imperative.
  • It is for Aboriginal peoples to define themselves and to choose by what means to make their decisions, according to their own laws, customs and practices.

In commenting on the decision, Chief Clarence Louie, Tribal Chair of the Chiefs’ Executive Council of the Syilx Okanagan Nation stated that: “We are pleased that the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed what we have always known: that the Sinixt (in our language, the sʔalt̕ik̓ʷt) are not extinct, and that the imposition of international boundaries and forced displacement of our people through colonization could not take away our Aboriginal rights.”

Chief Louie went on to note: “The international border between Canada and the US was imposed on our people without our consent. Our members were forced to choose which side of the border to live on – some moved south to the Colville reservation and others moved west to the Okanagan valley – but we continue to be united through our cultural, familial, territorial, economic and political ties. As nsyilxcen-speaking peoples, we will continue to advance and protect our Aboriginal title and rights in our territory.”

The ONA participated in the Supreme Court of Canada appeal, and two Syilx Okanagan Nation members – Richard Armstrong and Hazel Squakin – shared their knowledge of the Arrow Lakes area at Mr. Desautel’s trial. The Okanagan Nation Alliance and its Chiefs’ Executive Council represent Syilx Okanagan Nation members and are mandated to protect, advance and defend the Syilx Okanagan Nation’s

collective Title and Rights.  Syilx Okanagan Nation communities include thousands of members who are Sinixt descendants and whose ancestors historically lived in the Arrow Lakes area.

For more information please contact:

Chief Clarence Louie
Tribal Chair
Okanagan Nation Alliance
Tel:  250-498-9132

MEDIA RELEASE- SCC Decision Desautel


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 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: www.syilx.org/projects/lower-columbia-river-pike-suppression/

For More Information Contact:
Michael Zimmer, ONA Biologist
T 250 304 7341       E mzimmer@syilx.org

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


OKANAGAN NATION SECURES $500,000 IN FUNDING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT RESPONSE SERVICES PROGRAM

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.”

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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: tmontgomery@syilx.org

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

xa?tus

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

Email: hwright@syilx.org

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: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010

For further information please contact:

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

MEDIA RELEASE PCNs


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: https://rcybc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/RCY_NSSI_Report.FINAL_.pdf

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”


‘Fish in Schools’ program reaches 41 participant schools

December 19th, 2019

Syilx Territory, Westbank, BC – The Okanagan Nation Alliance Fish in Schools (FinS) Program is now in 41 participating public and private and Band Operated schools throughout the Syilx Territory as well as the Penticton Museum and Archives, Christina Lake Stewardship Society and the Oliver Correctional facility.

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, the intent is for students to become future advocates for both salmon and their habitat.

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. The program has doubled in size in the Columbia region this year – which demonstrates the success of the program.

This year the FinS program extends to the Oliver Correctional Facility programs department as well. It will provide inmates with a new educational opportunity in order to contribute to broader knowledge and training necessary to apply for jobs when they are released.

Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager states that “Bringing FinS to the Oliver Correctional Facility will increases awareness on fish culture, sockeye life cycle, and traditional knowledge on what salmon and indigenous fish species means to the Okanagan Syilx people. It also continues to exemplify ONAs ongoing commitment in providing FinS education to as wide an audience as possible.”

The ONA upholds the r responsibility to the tmixw (all living things), our Syilx Okanagan traditional ecological knowledge systems and actively involve our Cultural knowledged 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 bio-diverse 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.

Over the course of December the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is delivering fish tanks and equipment to all our participants throughout Syilx territory, as part of the Fish in Schools (FinS) program. Egg delivery to FinS participant schools will being in early January 2020. Upon successfully raising the fry, students will include their fry in ceremonial releases that take place throughout the Syilx Territory in 2020.

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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.

For More Information Contact:

Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager          Michael Zimmer, ONA Fisheries Columbia Biologist
Tel: (250) 718-5215                          Tel: (250) 304-7341


FinS Participants

School Districts 8, 10, 20, and 51, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, and Regional District of Central Kootenay

  1. Christina Lake Elementary
  2. Glenmerry Elementary
  3. Hutton Elementary
  4. Kinnaird Elementary
  5. Lucerne Elementary
  6. Robson Community School
  7. Salmo Elementary
  8. South Nelson Elementary
  9. Twin Rivers Elementary
  10. Sentinel Secondary
  11. E. Graham Community School
  12. Fruitvale Elementary
  13. James E. Webster Elementary
  14. Rossland Summit School
  15. Hume Elementary
  16. Michael’s Catholic School
  17. Ecole des Sentiers-alpins
  18. Christina Lake Stewardship Society

In the Okanagan Sub-basin FinS continues to be offered at:

  1. OK Falls Elementary
  2. Oliver Elementary
  3. Osoyoos Elementary
  4. Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary
  5. Senpokchin Elementary
  6. Outma School
  7. Cawston Primary
  8. Columbia Elementary
  9. Wiltse Elementary
  10. Little Paws Daycare
  11. Ntamqen School
  12. South Okanagan Secondary School
  13. John Allison Elementary
  14. Casorso Elementary School
  15. Penticton Excel K-12 Learning Centre
  16. Ellison Elementary
  17. Alexis Park Elementary
  18. Sensisyusten
  19. Enowkin Center
  20. Osoyoos Secondary
  21. Queens Park Elementary,
  22. West Bench Elementary,
  23. KVR Middle School
  24. Kaleden Elementary
  25. Penticton Museum and Archives
  26. Oliver Correctional Facility

FinS Media Release


Okanagan Nation Alliance Destigmatizes The Drug Overdose Crisis With The Purple Ribbon Campaign Caravan

August 28th, 2019

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: From August 27-28, 2019, the Okanagan Nation hosted the
‘Purple Ribbon Campaign Caravan” as part of International Overdose Awareness Day. This Caravan saw people from across the Syilx Okanagan territory rally and travel to various communities, sharing resources and bringing awareness to the issue of the pervasive drug and opioid crisis that is gripping Syilx Okanagan communities, and the Okanagan in general. There is an urgent need to address the stigma that surrounds drug use and overdose, while simultaneously increasing culturally appropriate supports and services to decrease the violence and disruption that our communities face.

A highlight of the caravan included an Awareness Walk, where over 40 people, including Syilx Nation members, as well as many others whose lives have been impacted by the tragedies of addiction and overdose, joined together and walked across the William R. Bennett Bridge to City Park, in Kelowna. This initiative brought light to the issue, and was an opportunity to collectively shed the shame and silence that often isolates those most effected by this crisis.

“I continue to affirm that what we are facing is an overdose emergency, both here on Syilx territory and throughout British Columbia. We know that First Nations people are five times more likely than non-First Nations to experience an overdose. Such stats drive home the fact that these issues have their roots in colonization and the impacts of inequality that continue to reverberate through our communities. As a Nation it is imperative that we come together and take on these pervasive inflictions so that we can heal and move forward together, united as one” states Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

The First Nations Health Authority, Interior Health and the Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton Friendship Centres, alongside the Metis Community Services Society, joined the ONA for the Purple Ribbon Campaign Caravan, which showcased the united front and the collaboration needed to successfully address this crisis.

It is important for anyone facing these issues to know that you are not alone, and that there are resources and supports available to see you through challenging times. For more resources visit:
www.syilx.org/wellness/our-programs-and-services/purple-ribbon-campaign/
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ONA recognizes Purple Ribbon Day – and all the efforts globally – that provide a deeper recognition to the issue of drug addiction and overdoses, alongside all of the victims of the current opioid emergency. Efforts like the Purple Ribbon Campaign Caravan are part of a broader range of programs and activities, including the Nation Drug Forum, that the Nation takes on to actively address the current opioid crisis that is devastating communities throughout the territory.

For further information please contact:
Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip, ONA Chair
T: 1-250-490-5314

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 120 E: tmontgomery@syilx.org

MEDIA RELEASE- Purple Ribbon Campaign Caravan


OKANAGAN NATION ALLIANCE ADDRESS DRUG CRISIS WITH SYILX WELL-BEING: NATION DRUG FORUM

July 31st, 2019

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On July 31, 2019, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) will host the “Syilx Well-Being: Nation Drug Forum”. This Drug Forum is part of a broader stream of work carried out by the ONA that affirms our continued commitment to bring awareness to the issue of the pervasive drug and opioid crisis that is gripping Syilx Okanagan communities. There is an urgent need to address the stigma that surrounds drug use and overdose, while simultaneously increasing culturally appropriate supports and services to decrease the violence and disruption that our communities face.

This year’s Drug Forum will include captikwl, a ‘Voices from the People’ Panel and participatory action dialogues and Guest Speakers of families directly impacted by loss due to loss of a child due to this crisis. The Forum will engage Syilx Okanagan leadership, frontline workers, community members, ONA staff and partner agencies in our continued effort to build upon Syilx models for both well-being and resiliency in the face of these most challenging social and community issues.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip states “The overdose crisis constitutes a state of emergency. This crisis is fueled by poverty and inequality, and finds its roots in the devastating trauma of colonization that continues to have a profound impact on our people. If we don’t address these core issues, which includes connections to land and meeting basic needs, our people will continue to suffer. As Syilx People we carry an inherent responsibility to each other, our families and our communities, that no one is left behind, and that we are on the healing path, together as a Nation.”

Events such as the Drug Forum are collaborative efforts that include the support and contribution of partners such as First Nations Health Authority and Interior Health.

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The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was formed in 1981 as the inaugural First Nations government in the Okanagan, which represents the 8 member communities of the Okanagan Nation. The ONA mandate is to work collectively to advance and assert Syilx Okanagan Nation Title and Rights over the Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory.

MEDIA RELEASE- DRUG FORUM 2019

For further information please contact:

Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip, ONA Chair
T: 1-250-490-5314

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: 1-250-862-6866 E: tmontgomery@syilx.org


Okanagan Nation Recognizes Coralee Miller as Salmon Feast Artist

July 29th, 2019

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The ONA congratulates Syilx Okanagan Nation member, Coralee Miller, as the artist of the 2019 Okanagan Nation Salmon Feast logo. Every year the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) has a Nation community member create an original design to represent the annual Okanagan Nation Salmon Feast.

As Coralee states ” I am of mixed heritage, but have grown up as Syilx Okanagan in my community of Westbank. I love art and am working to better myself as an artist by attending UBCO. My favourite mediums are sculpture, painting and drawing, as well as the occasional digital work.  I work as a museum asssistant at the Sncewips Heritage Museum and I love it as it is the one job that gives me a chance to contribute my artistic skills to the space. I love meeting new people and sharing my culture through art and through the oral stories that I hold dear.”


Historic Agreement Reached Between Columbia River Basin Indigenous Nations, Canada and British Columbia to Collaborate on Salmon Re-Introduction

July 29th, 2019

In the spirit of partnership and reconciliation, a landmark agreement to explore salmon reintroduction into the Columbia River Basin between the Syilx Okanagan, Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Indigenous Nations, Canada and British Columbia was signed today in Castlegar. The Letter of Agreement is a commitment by the five governments to collaborate on exploring the reintroduction of Pacific anadromous salmon into the Canadian portion of the Upper Columbia River Basin. The reintroduction of salmon into these areas hopes to restore fish stocks to support indigenous food, social and ceremonial needs.

This collaborative effort will complement the current negotiation process between Canada and the United States to modernize the Columbia River Treaty. The Government of Canada is working closely with the Province of British Columbia and the Syilx Okanagan, Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Indigenous Nations to shape Canada’s approach to these negotiations.

Quotes

“The restoration of salmon to all parts of the territory, including that of the Upper Columbia, is part of our inherent rights and responsibilities as Syilx Okanagan People. ntityix (Chief Salmon) is one of our Four Food Chiefs, and a central part of securing Syilx food sovereignty. Moving forward we are dedicated that these efforts not just use the best, cutting edge science, but also align with Syilx Okanagan traditional knowledge, cultural beliefs and practices for successful return of salmon, protection of our waters and the health of the planet”.
– Chief Chad Eneas, Penticton Indian Band

“The Syilx Okanagan Nation remains steadfast in our commitment to salmon reintroduction throughout all parts of the territory, including that of the Upper Columbia. As we have exhibited with the reintroduction of salmon in the Okanagan sub-basin, the Syilx Okanagan Nation have the vision, leadership, and science and technical capacities to ensure that this work is successful. Today represents a monumental step forward, as it will be through partnerships with the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Nations, as well as the Province of BC and Government of  Canada, that these efforts will be fully realized.”
– Chief Keith Crow, Lower Similkameen Indian Band

“The loss of salmon from ?amakis Ktunaxa (Ktunaxa Nation territory) has had profound and long-term impacts on our Nation: socially, economically, culturally, spiritually and ecologically. The impacts to us have been comparable to the impacts of residential schools and forcing us on to reserves. We have been working to restore the salmon since at least the 1950’s, and today I am thrilled that the five governments that need to work together are doing just that: committing to work collaboratively to see what we need to do together to bring the salmon back. This is one small step on the long road to reconciliation.”
– Kathryn Teneese, Chair, Ktunaxa Nation Council

“I am very honoured to be a part of this signing to reintroduce the salmon back to our Columbia River. My Grandfathers Adrian Teneese and Chief Louie Arbel would have remembered the salmon run. This is the beginning of a challenge that we will overcome to bring our salmon back. I believe that my grandchildren and future generations will be able to fish the salmon once again in the Columbia River. This was the essence of our culture and life that kept us healthy not only physically but was the bond of our communities. Today we have a duty to make sure the waters are healthy so when the salmon return they will be able to reproduce and give us the sustenance that is crucial to our future generations.”
– Chief Barb Cote, Shuswap Indian Band

“ The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership. By combining science and research with Indigenous knowledge and advice, we stand a much better chance of successfully reintroducing salmon to this portion of the river and, ultimately, increasing Indigenous communities’ access to more fish for food, social, and ceremonial purposes.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“The historic loss of salmon migratory access to the Canadian portion of the Upper Columbia River has been a longstanding concern in the Columbia River Basin. I’m pleased that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with the Province of B.C. is working with the Syilx Okanagan, Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Indigenous Nations on this significant project. The signing of this important agreement is the first step in a multi-staged process to explore how salmon can be reintroduced back into this important watershed.”
– Pamela Goldsmith Jones, Parliamentary Secretary, Global Affairs Canada

“Salmon are integral to Indigenous communities and to the economic, environmental and social fabric of British Columbia. With this Agreement, the partners are taking a significant step towards bringing salmon back to the Upper Columbia Basin to protect and enhance salmon stocks for future generations. This signing demonstrates our government’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
– The Honourable Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

“Restoring salmon runs on the Upper Columbia River is incredibly important for Indigenous Nations of the Basin, and will also benefit basin residents and the ecosystem. As the MLA for Kootenay-West and as the Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, I am very pleased by this step forward. “
– The Honourable Katrine Conroy, BC Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty

Quick Facts:
● The construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in the 1930s and 1940s in the state of Washington blocked salmon from reaching the Upper Columbia River in Canada leading to the extirpation of salmon stocks.
● In 1964, Canada and the United States implemented the Columbia River Treaty to develop the hydroelectric potential of the Columbia River Basin and to manage flood risk. For more than 50 years, the Treaty has been a model of efficient work and cooperation benefiting both Canada and the United States.
● The two countries are in the process of negotiating to modernize the Treaty. The next round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in Cranbook, BC, September 10-11, 2019.
● The signing of the Letter of Agreement demonstrates a renewable three-year commitment amongst five governments to work together to explore ways to reintroduce salmon into the Upper Columbia River Basin. The reintroduction of salmon into these areas, if successful, could restore fish stocks to support indigenous food, social and ceremonial needs and harvest opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
● Federal and Provincial science advice and Indigenous traditional knowledge will be key to ensuring any reintroduction of salmon into the Upper Columbia River is successful.

News Release – Signing of LoA


Rebuilding Our Syilx Nation & Recognition

July 23rd, 2019

Upholding their mandate to protect and advance Syilx People’s Title and Rights, the Chiefs Executive Council has been negotiating with Canada at a Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination table.

We know who we are. Through this process, the government of Canada can finally and formally tell itself and all of its bodies to recognize the Syilx People and our Syilx Nation. This is a much more effective path than continually fighting for our rights in costly endless court cases.

Recognition of the Syilx People, developing ankc’x̌ʷiplaʔtntət uɬ yʕat iʔ ks səctxət̕stim – our laws and responsibilities – and establishing our Syilx Nation government are vital steps to fully realize our collective title and rights under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

This is a not a treaty. It is not a land claim settlement. It does not set up a municipal level government. It has nothing to do with a corporation. We give up nothing! Instead, Canada will be legally bound to stop its denial and recognize the Syilx Nation and our People’s inherent Title and Rights.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip states: “This is the path to a more just future where we never again have to struggle at every turn to assert our identity and rights as a Nation.”

The Chiefs Executive Council will continue in its role as governance body through transition to our own Nation level government. ankc’x̌ʷiplaʔtntət uɬ yʕat iʔ ks səctxət̕stim – our laws and responsibilities must be set out and approved by Syilx Nation members through the community-led process to rebuild our Syilx Nation government. Recognition by the federal government will create a new Nation-to-Nation fiscal relationship with Canada and support access to Nation rebuilding and then ongoing Syilx Nation governance funding. Stronger intergovernmental relations and respect for Syilx decision-making authority in Syilx territory will support the full realization of our inherent and collectively held Title and Rights.

Rebuilding Our Syilx Nation + Recognition


Special Message from Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip – AGA Follow-Up Nation Recognition Message

July 23rd, 2019

Way’ Chiefs, Councillors and Membership,

Following the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) Annual General Assembly of July 17-18, 2019, it is
important to emphasize that the proposed Recognition Agreement process is one of de-colonization
where we as members of the Syilx Nation finally hold the power to decide how we are to govern our
collectively-held territorial lands and future.

Our Title and Rights are held collectively at the Nation level, not at the community Band level. It is
at the Nation level that we must work together to fully realize our Title and Rights.

• This Agreement is in no way a surrender of title, lands, jurisdiction or power.
• It does not give away anything or affect any of our rights.
• It does not change Indian Act reserve structure, local governance or status in any way.
• This is about rebuilding our power as Syilx People at the Syilx Nation level.
• This is not a treaty or a land claim. It does not set up any municipal level government or
corporation structure.
• This ensures the government does not ever deny our Title or Rights, including in court.
• This is an unprecedented Agreement and opportunity to ensure our power – Nation to Nation.
• It creates opportunities to rebuild our Syilx laws and responsibilities and our own Syilx
governance processes.
• This allows us to rebuild our own Syilx Nation governance and move beyond the ONA Society
Act process.

The Chiefs Executive Council has committed to Nation-wide community discussions specifically on
this Recognition Agreement. Syilx Nation members will be notified of Recognition discussion
forum schedules as soon as they can be confirmed. This will be in addition to the community-led
Syilx Nation Rising rebuilding engagement already underway.

lim’ləmpt
Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip

Special Message from GCSP – AGA Follow-up Nation Recognition Message


ONA Proud to Share 2018-2019 Annual Report

July 18th, 2019

The Okanagan Nation Alliance is proud to release the digital publication of our 2018-2019 Annual Report. The Annual Report is developed every year to support the ONA Annual General Assembly, and illustrates the breadth and depth of the work that takes place throughout the organization over the past fiscal year. It also represents our continued commitment to transparency and accountability in all the work that we carry out.

Since inauguration, the Okanagan Nation Alliance has remained dedicated to developing governance structures and operations, which uphold the Okanagan Nation Declaration and the rebuilding of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. Over the decades ONA has worked diligently to uphold our mandate to work collectively to advance and assert Syilx Okanagan Nation Title and Rights over the Territory. Today, not only has the range of work become greatly diversified, but we continue to face the opportunities and challenges of exponential growth. This Annual Report acts as an opportunity to reflect upon both where we are coming from, as well as where we are headed.

We hope you enjoy!

ONA 2018-2019 Annual Report

 


Syilx Okanagan Nation Gather and Celebrate at Annual General Assembly

July 17th, 2019

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Okanagan Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is proud to announce that our Annual General Assembly (AGA) will take place from July 17-18, 2019. This event provides Syilx Okanagan people with the opportunity to gather as a Nation, celebrate the many successes that have taken place for our people over the last year, and reflect on the persistent challenges that we collectively face together. This year the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) is hosting the event at the Prestige Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre, in Vernon, BC.

The keynote speaker for this year’s AGA is Bernie Williams Poitras, a community leader and long-time advocate for Indigenous women, who recently contributed to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The issue of Murdered & Missing Women and Girls, alongside the generational impacts of the Indian Residential Schools, systemic racism and violence, continue to have profound effects on Syilx communities, and Ms. Williams Poitras will be speaking to some of key processes that have been highlighted for addressing these issues through the National Inquiry.

Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip states that: “This is a trying time for Canada. The Prime Minister’s lofty promises of transparency, integrity, gender equity, Indigenous reconciliation, and enhanced environmental protection have all been shown to have very shallow roots. Words are one thing, but deeds are quite another. At this year’s AGA we continue to come together, as our ancestors have always done, to find the ways and means of taking on the challenges that colonialism has created, and finding solutions that resonate within our contemporary context.”

Alongside a variety of pertinent presentations and dialogues, there will also be a host of cultural activities taking place, including Canoe Races, Traditional Games, and nsyilxcən Bingo hosted throughout the two days.

Aligned with AGA, the annual Youth Leadership and Elders Gathering will also take place. This event provides Syilx youth the opportunity to connect with other peers from across the territory, engage in on-the-land based activities, and cultivate leadership skills. This event further supports the Syilx Okanagan Nation’s dedication to cultivate strong youth leaders today by their interaction with elders and other leaders throughout the Nation so that we may continue to thrive in the future.

For more info and a full agenda of the event visit: www.syilx.org/events/annual-general-assembly/

~

The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was formed in 1981 as the inaugural First Nations government in the Okanagan, which represents the 8 member communities of the Okanagan Nation. The ONA mandate is to work collectively to advance and assert Syilx Okanagan Nation Title and Rights over the Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory.

For further information please contact:
Grand Chief Dr. Stewart Phillip, ONA Chair
T: 1-250-490-5314

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: 1-250-862-6866 E: tmontgomery@syilx.org

MEDIA RELEASE- AGA 2019