Congratulations to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip on the Acceptance of an Honorary Degree from the University of British Columbia

November 28th, 2018

Musqueam Territory, Vancouver, British Columbia: Today, November 28, 2018, at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Chan Center, ʔaʔsi wɬ  (Grand Chief Stewart Phillip) was awarded an honorary degree.

On behalf of the Syilx Okanagan people, we want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to ʔaʔsi wɬ for his years of hard work. It is our tradition to celebrate the achievements of our people, but today we also pause to honour him for his perseverance and commitment.  He has fought many battles, and today we are in a new era, where our Title and Rights are finally being recognized. There is a genuine desire for reconciliation on all sides, and we, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, are the beneficiaries of these tireless efforts to improve the lives of all indigenous people within our Nation, our province, in this country and internationally. Today, we acknowledge and honor ʔaʔsi wɬ for this extraordinary achievement and recognition of his life’s work.

Chief Chad Eneas stated that ‘When Grand Chief Stewart Phillip began working for our communities and fighting for indigenous rights, he was not welcome at the table, but he was undeterred. He is a man of conviction, a diplomat, and steadfastly committed to the rights of indigenous people everywhere. We are proud to call him our own!”

Pauline Terbasket followed, remarking that “Grand Chief Stewart Philip is a visionary, a man of integrity and I’m proud to call him a mentor. He is a role model for all our young people. The Syilx people join together in celebration of this man who has fought tenaciously for indigenous title and rights.”

Lim’ limpt Grand Chief Stewart Phillip for all that you have done, and continue to do, for the Syilx Okanagan Nation!

For further info contact:

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
t: 1.250.707.0095 ext.120 e:
MEDIA RELEASE – GCSP Honorary Degree

Community Notice: Marine Nutrient Loading in Regional Waterways

October 9th, 2018

As part of our continued conservation efforts, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is currently collecting broodstock gathering sockeye salmon eggs for the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery. It is recognized that Skaha and Okanagan Lake are nutrient poor when compared to Osoyoos Lake.  As with previous years, we will be restarting the Marine Nutrient Reintroduction Program. Through this program we return the salmon carcasses taken during broodstock back into local streams. This program proves important for stream vitality as well as fish returning to the streams. If we increase the nutrients then the lake may grow more food for young sockeye fry.

The Penticton Indian Band (PIB) has sanctioned and is collaborating on this activity for Trout Creek. We have a sign on location for the site that describes what we are hoping to achieve.

Any further questions or concerns may be directed to:
Norm Johnson, ONA Facility Operations Biologist
t: 1.250.707.0095   ext 351

Indigenous Leaders celebrate 50th Annual General Assembly of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

October 4th, 2018

(Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Territory/Kamloops, B.C. – October 3rd, 2018) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is celebrating its 50th Annual General Assembly (AGA) this week, a gathering of over 100 Chiefs, proxies, and policy experts to discuss significant political and social issues that impact BC First Nations.

The event is being held from October 2nd through 4th at Moccasin Square Gardens in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Territory. The theme of this year’s AGA is “50 Years of Exercising Our Title and Rights.”

“49 years ago, after a three-day meeting here in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, 175 Chiefs unanimously voted to create the UBCIC in order to defend our Aboriginal Title and Rights from Pierre Trudeau’s infamous White Paper,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC. “What resulted is nearly 50 years of unwavering advocacy for Indigenous peoples across multiple sectors, including land claims research, violence against Indigenous women and girls, destructive resource extraction practices and projects, and the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Agenda items include discussions of Canada’s proposed Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework, UBCIC’s submission to the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and protections for wild salmon. In addition, Grand Chief Phillip will be honoured for his 20th year as President of the organization.

“The AGA is the centrepiece of UBCIC operations, a space where we can all gather and work on issues integral to our livelihood and identity as Indigenous peoples,” said Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC. “It’s a space where Indigenous voices are uplifted, celebrated, and given room to speak from our hearts and traditions. We discuss issues that are painful and exasperating, but our sense of community and strong determination turns our frustrations into tangible action at these meetings.”

UBCIC will host three special events in conjunction with the 50th AGA: a group photograph, an Indigenous Women in Leadership Dinner, and a banquet accompanied by a test screening of the upcoming UBCIC documentary Unceded Chiefs, directed by filmmaker Doreen Manuel. The founding members and homemakers will be honoured at this banquet, along with those who participated in the 1980-1981 Constitution Express movement.

“The 50th AGA marks a historic milestone for UBCIC. Despite major opposition, discrimination, and colonially-imposed barriers, we have survived and thrived as a leading Indigenous political organization.” said Chief Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC. “The late Grand Chief George Manuel, in conversation with Louise Mandell, stated that our rights need to be constitutionalized and also recognized. We will continue to fight tirelessly for the health and wellness of our peoples and communities and the further protection of our inherent Title and Rights – for fifty more years and beyond.”

Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: (250-490-5314)

Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: (250-974-8282

Chief Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer, Union of BC Indian Chiefs: (250-320-7738)

UBC Okanagan Raises Syilx Okanagan Nation Flag: Special Ceremony Marks Official Flag Raising

September 28th, 2018

A new and permanent place has been given to the Syilx Okanagan Nation flag at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
Yesterday members from the Syilx Okanagan Nation and the UBC Okanagan community gathered at the university’s courtyard to celebrate the raising of the Okanagan Nation flag on a newly installed pole. The Okanagan campus is located on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. The flag raising formally signifies UBC’s recognition of the Syilx Okanagan Nation in whose lands the university resides.

UBC Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard says creating a home for the flag on this campus has been on her mind for some time. This spring, the university and the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) began plans to install a fourth flagpole, giving the Syilx Okanagan Nation flag a place to fly continuously alongside the UBC, Province of BC and Canadian flags.

“UBC’s Okanagan campus has the rare distinction and privilege of being a post-secondary institution founded in partnership with local First Nations,” said Buszard. “By permanently raising the ONA flag we will ensure this symbol of the Syilx Okanagan people has an enduring presence on campus which reflects the significance of our partnership with the ONA. We are grateful to be welcomed in Syilx territory and proud to serve Indigenous peoples, including through committed support of student access and success.”
At yesterday’s event, a number of dignitaries spoke about the partnership with UBC and the ONA including UBC Chancellor Lindsay Gordon, Westbank First Nation Councillor Chris Derickson and Okanagan Indian Band Councillor Dan Wilson. Amber Cardenas along with Margaret Manuel sang the Okanagan song whilst the flag was raised by Syilx Okanagan students Briana Wilson and Cody Isaac.

Speaking at the event, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, ONA Chair, called it a special moment in BC’s history.

“This act demonstrates direct action and leadership taken by UBC. Today is an honourable and historic day in raising our flag and emblem upon our beautiful lands and is truly a day for celebration,” said Stewart. “The ONA’s Chief’s Executive Council continue to encourage all post-secondary institutions and school districts within the territory to establish and strengthen working relationships with the nation for the purposes of increasing recognition of Syilx Okanagan culture, language, presence and territorial recognition.”

A similar flag-raising event is planned for UBC’s Vancouver campus later this year. Each campus sits on the traditional territory of its host nation: Musqueam in Vancouver and the Syilx Okanagan Nation in the Okanagan.

The flags formally signify UBC’s recognition of Indigenous peoples in whose lands the university resides, explained Chancellor Lindsay Gordon, and will add to a growing visible Indigenous presence on both campuses that includes bilingual signs providing alternate street names in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and nsyilxcən Indigenous languages.

Media Contact:
Okanagan Nation Alliance
Tara Montgomery | Communications Lead,
Phone: 250-707-0095 ext. 120 | Cell: 250-862-6866

Media Release – UBCO Flag Raising

“We are all in this together and that we need to come together as peoples from all parts of the
globe, all parts of the country and we need to come together to learn from our histories and our pasts”
-Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

Fisheries Update Community Notice

July 31st, 2018

As of July 27, 2018 about 193,038 Sockeye have entered the Columbia River. It is estimated that 85% of the return is Okanagan. We are anticipating there will be 209,000 sockeye returning in total. We estimate 70,000-75,000 sockeye have entered Osoyoos Lake
with an estimate of about 10,000 to 15,000 sockeye in Skaha Lake.

People were fishing at “sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (s-wuh-wuneetkw) and nʕaylintn (Ny-lin-tn) since the beginning of July and river temperatures have increased where the sockeye have fallen back into Osoyoos Lake. Catches so far in Canada for food fisheries are estimated to be about 1,000-2,000 in river.

There will be a recreational fishery opening on Osoyoos Lake from August 3-13, 2018 with a 2
Sockeye/day limit. ONA will review catches on August 13, 2018 for consideration of another
recreational opening. Estimated catch is 2,000 sockeye.

There will be an economic fishery with trolling only in Osoyoos Lake from August 3-31, 2018. Estimated catch is 3,000 sockeye.

If food fishing: Please have status card available as DFO enforcement
will be out periodically making sure it is only the ONA Members fishing right now.

For More Information Contact:
Howie Wright, Fisheries Manager T: (250) 707-0095 ext. 104 E:

Fishing Notice_July 31 2018

Wild Fire Update from Province of BC

July 26th, 2018

Placer Mountain Fire

Location: Approx. 37 km south of Princeton.
Fire is located west of Ashnola River and Cathedral Park. The fire is not in the Park.
Date of Discovery: July 17, 2018
Fire Size: 520 ha
Status: Out of Control
Cause: Lightning
Resources: 22 firefighters, 4 helicopters, 8 pieces of heavy equipment and industry personnel.
Objectives: Continue establishing wet lines along hose trails. Bucketing is being carried out in areas where the fire is burning aggressively.
Danger tree assessing and danger tree felling is ongoing. Establish a contingency line to the west of the fire with heavy equipment. The fire has crossed McBride Creek and is progressing upslope into the old Diamond Fire of 2017.
Evacuations: No current evacuation orders or alerts. Future road or area restrictions may be implemented due to traffic on the Ashnola Road.

Snowy Mountain Fire (K51238)

Location: Approx. 14 km south of Keremeos
Date of Discovery: July 17, 2018
Fire Size: 1,530 ha
Status: Out of control.
Cause: Lightning
Resources: The fire continues to be monitored. A remote camera has now been set up and is providing real time imaging.
Objectives: Land managers have been consulted and trigger points have been set to determine at what point this fire will be actioned. The fire is burning at a high elevation and is visible to Cawston and Keremeos.
Other: This fire is located in the Snowy Protected Area. BC Parks has closed Ewart and Wall Creek trails pending further assessment of the fire.
For more information go to:
Evacuations: There are no current evacuation orders or alerts.

Information Officer: Ken Juvik | 604-819-7205
Placer Mountain Fire (K61241)

K61241 Community Bulletin July 25

Syilx Nation Signs Syilx Okanagan Language Declaration

July 25th, 2018

At the 2018 ONA Annual General Assembly, on July 18th at saʔtikn at the Manning Park Resort, the Syilx Okanagan Nation Elders present and member Chiefs endorsed the  Iʔ Syilx iʔ sukʷnaqinx scqʷəlqʷiltət Syilx Okanagan Language Declaration. While the Council and Nation members signed as witnesses, drummers and singers provided spiritual significance to the signing with beautiful songs that filled the room already bursting with so much pride.

“axaʔ iʔ kʷu syilx iʔ kʷu ͝ sukʷnaqinx kʷu cnqilxʷcən ta nsyilxcən uɬ way t̕əsxʷuy uɬ ta mnimɬtət kə ck̕ɬqixʷstm uɬ kə ctiɬstm, uɬ niʕip kə ck’ʷulmstm iʔ nsyilxcən aʔ nqilxʷcntət.”

“We, the Syilx Okanagan Peoples have spoken our nsyilxcən language since time immemorial and we are responsible for the protection, revitalization and advancement of our nsyilxcən language.”    – excerpt from the Syilx Okanagan Language Declaration

Over the last year, speakers have developed the Language Declaration as an expression of Syilx legal principles that stand as a valuable instrument to be able to advocate for the importance of our language. Our language gives us this right and responsibility to be here. Our Elders spoke in nsyilxcen to the importance of the signing of this historic Declaration. Elder and fluent language speaker Pauline Archacan also talked about our rights and the significance of the Declaration and how she was fully satisfied with the wording in the Declaration.

Speaking to the importance of the Declaration Chief Byron Louis stated, “That this is the most significant document I have ever signed.”

After the signing took place, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said “this is history, incredibly significant. This is an international standard of nationhood. Forty-five years ago, the majority of our people were fluent, sadly that’s not the case anymore. This Declaration is a public expression of intent to stay together. This Declaration contains our laws on how we care take our culture and everything that represents. Without the language it’s impossible to undertake these tasks. It’s at the core of our being, there’s no question. We’ve been encouraged by our Elders to revive our language and today we made this commitment.”

The work to develop this Declaration took a long time, this was a very significant day. We want to acknowledge all those who worked on this Declaration and through this work we honour our Elders and those who have kept our language alive.

Syilx Okanagan Language Declaration

For more information on the Syilx Okanagan Language Declaration:

Photo Gallery of Syilx Okanagan Language Declaration Signing

Syilx Nation’s Annual General Assembly: Coming Together and Sharing Our Stories

July 17th, 2018

saʔtikn (Manning Park), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) are proud to announce that our Annual General Assembly (AGA) will take place from July 17-19, 2018. This event provides Syilx people with the opportunity to gather as a Nation, to celebrate the many successes that have taken place for our people over the last year, and reflect on the challenges that we continue to face. This year the Upper Similkameen Indian Band (USIB) in co-operation with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB) are hosting the event at saʔtikn (Manning Park).

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip states that “Last year, my message was that we could not depend on the courts or governments; that we could only depend on each other. Fortunately, that message has resonated throughout the Nation as we continue to cherish and protect our lands, and to safeguard the well-being and quality of life of our people. Positive change requires commitment, persistence and courage. Together, we will realize the great potential of the Syilx Okanagan Nation.”

A central part of this year’s AGA will include the launch of the recent publication “Take The Indian Out of the Child: Okanagan Syilx Experiences in the Violent and Forced Assimilation of Indian Residential Schools.” This publication, along with the many presentations, illustrate how truly tenacious and resilient Syilx peoples have collectively been and continue to be through some of the most difficult times in our history. The official launch of the publication will take place at 2:30 pm at the Alpine Room at the Manning Park Resort.  Other activities will include presentations from community members and representative’s across the Nation, including Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, George Saddleman, and the Wellness and Natural Resource Committees.

Aligned with AGA, the annual Youth Leadership Gathering is also taking place, providing Syilx youth from across the territory with the opportunity gather, and engage in on-the-land based activities.

Full agenda of the event:

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.

For further information please contact:

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

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead:
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext 120


2018 Syilx Fishery Notice

July 11th, 2018

The purpose of this Bulletin is to provide you an update on the 2018 Okanagan sockeye harvest year.

Flows are at 65 cms, about 4 times what is usual. For people currently fishing at the nʕaylintn (McIntyre Dam) and sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (OK Falls) please be careful. We do not recommend people going into the water.

  • The returns are on the higher end of the forecast
  • As of July 9, 2018, about 182,458 Sockeye have entered the Columbia River. It is estimated that 75-85% of the return is Okanagan. We are anticipating there will be 210,000 sockeye returning in total with 155,000-180,000 sockeye heading to the Okanagan
  • As of July 8, 2018, about 68,609 sockeye have migrated over Wells Dam. We estimate 100,000 to 130,000 will migrate over Wells dam in total.
  • People are currently fishing at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (s-wuh-wuneet-kw) and nʕaylintn (Ny-lin-tn) since the beginning of July and river temperatures haven’t increased where the sockeye have not fallen back into Osoyoos Lake

For all Okanagan Nation members, if food fishing, please have status card available as DFO enforcement will be out periodically making sure it is only the ONA Members fishing right now.

Okanagan Nation’s Indian Residential School (SIRS) Survivors Release Publication Sharing Their Stories

July 10th, 2018

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is honored to announce the publication of “Take The Indian Out of the Child: Okanagan Syilx Experiences in the Violent and Forced Assimilation of Indian Residential Schools.” The official launch of the publication will take place on July 17, 2018, at 2:30 pm during the ONA’s Annual General Assembly at saʔtikn (Manning Park), BC.

This publication contains over 50 contributions, the majority of which are first-hand accounts from Syilx Indian Residential School (SIRS) survivors. The ONA’s Syilx Indian Residential School Committee (SIRS) guided the development of the publication. It is a testament to the strength of the Syilx people in surviving the horrendous experiences of Indian Residential Schools and the aftermath that followed.

This book was written so that Syilx people, today and for generations to come, will know the atrocities that occurred and how we survived. Learning through the past is an integral part of living well today, and lays the foundation for a healthy future. It also celebrates the fact that the Syilx people are here and are thriving. As such, it is a tribute to the former Indian residential school students who shared their stories – and is a memory of the many whose stories will never be able to be told, and is an historical and personal account of Truth telling. This is critically important to share so that families, communities, tribes, Nations of indigenous peoples all will continue a pathway forward. As stated by Denise Lecoy, Syilx community member, “we’re here in the name of hope, I wish you all healing and strength”.

It was created to educate all Canadians about the history of the Indian residential school system, the inhumane nature of its operations and its significant impacts on the Syilx Nation, which are felt today. Importantly, our people wanted to tell their own stories of their experience, not have it told for them.

“We have held hurt feelings and shameful stories in our hearts and minds for many years. They were secrets at one time, but now we are trying to make our communities aware of the crimes that were committed against us”, stated Hazel Squakin, Syilx elder and Indian Residential School Survivor.

This publication is a continued part of the ongoing commitment of the ONA’s Chiefs Executive Council to honor and support the survivors and their families. As part of the Nation’s Healing Strategy, this publication represents yet another step on the path toward healing, which over the last year has seen the unveiling of a Syilx Indian Residential School Monument and the hosting of the ‘Syilx Resiliency: A Day of Discussion on Healing’ Forum, which had Senator Murray Sinclair as the keynote.

ONA’s Syilx Indian Residential School Committee is comprised of representatives from all seven member communities, many of whom are Indian Residential School survivors. This Committee is committed to telling the truth and their stories, developing and implementing healing strategies throughout the Nation, and rebuilding their family systems. This group is highly dedicated, committed, and has provided invaluable direction to ONA staff on numerous projects. The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was formed in 1981 as the inaugural First Nations government in the Okanagan.

For further information please contact:
Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager
T: 1-250-826-7844

MEDIA RELEASE- SIRS Publication Announcement

Okanagan Nation Hosts Senator Murray Sinclair for Discussion on Resiliency Strategies in Face of Indian Residential School Experience

July 4th, 2018

snpíntktn (Penticton), Syilx Territory: On July 3, 2018, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) hosted the ‘Syilx Resiliency: A Day of Discussion on Healing’ Forum. This gathering is as part of the ongoing commitment of the ONA’s Chiefs Executive Council to support and honor the Syilx Indian Residential School (SIRS) Committee, as well as further dialogue and action in regards to Syilx peoples resiliency in the face of the Indian Residential School experience. This event is demonstrative of how the tenacity of Syilx peoples calls upon the need to make more people aware of the IRS history.

A number of topics were discussed including the development of a Syilx Indian Residential School Healing Strategy, Reconciliation with Our Allies, and personal strategies on healing and wellness. Senator Murray Sinclair was the keynote speaker, and is an indigenous lawyer and politician who served as Chairman of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2009 to 2015.

Senator Murray Sinclair stated that “We need to find a way to tell these stories and cause no further harm. Survivors must realize that it’s not only about us, it’s about our children.”

It is important to recognize that long before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Syilx Indian Residential school survivors determination brought us to this day. They were committed to rebuilding their family systems, lobbying governments for redress of this dark era in Canadian history and were always guiding and advocating for healing strategies for the people. The current Syilx Indian Residential School Committee provided the direction to keep this work moving forward, they wanted Senator Murray Sinclair to come and speak to the Nation, they wanted discussed how Syilx Allies can walk with us in reconciliation between all people. However, most importantly it is a forum to create further awareness and a reminder to everyone how resilient Syilx Peoples truly are and how we can take care of one another and those who are experiencing hurt and trauma attributed to our people’s colonization and specifically intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools. Eric Mitchell, Syilx Indian Residential School survivor further stated that: “For our Nation this is a very important kind of gathering that needs to happen more and more. In terms of learning to heal ourselves and heal our families and ultimately our Nation.”

This work will continue to move forward with a forthcoming publication of the Syilx Indian Residential School experience. The launch of this publication will take place at the ONA Annual General Assembly, on July 17, 2018.


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.

For further information please contact:

Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Manager, ONA

T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 151 C: 1-250-826-7844 E:

MEDIA RELEASE- Syilx Resiliency

Okanagan Nation Recognizes Cole Cassidy As Salmon Feast Artist

June 26th, 2018

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The ONA congratulates Syilx youth, Cole Cassidy, as the artist of the 2018 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. This year, his artwork, titled “Under the Morning Light” will become part of an ongoing collection of unique representations that illustrate our Nation members’ connection to and the general importance of the Salmon Feast. To see a gallery of all the commissioned artwork to date please visit:

Cassidy shares that “Since I can remember I have always been drawing, if you ask anyone they will say I’m always drawing something. I also like working with other mediums like digital and clay. I like creating my own characters for comics that I make. My creativity and natural skills for sketching make art very relaxing and enjoyable for me. My family has and continues to support me and my journey in the arts.”

Cole Cassidy is a 14-year old who resides in West Kelowna and is at his last year at Glen Rosa Middle School. His parents are Shayla Lawrence and David Cassidy, and grandparents Kathy Lawrence, Donna and Tony Cassidy. His great-grandparents are the late Eva and William Lawrence.


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 Salmon Feast honours the sacredness of the river at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (Okanagan Falls), which is a culturally significant site for the Syilx (Okanagan) People, and an important traditional fishing camp, gathering place and trading site.

For further information please contact:

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead

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


Canada Excludes Indigenous Nations From International Columbia River Treaty Re-Negotiations

May 23rd, 2018


(Unceded Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, BC: May 23, 2018): Late last week, the three Indigenous Nations – the rightful title and rights holders of the Upper Columbia Basin: the Ktunaxa Nation, Secwepemc Nation and Syilx Okanagan Nation – were told by the Government of Canada that they would be excluded from direct participation in the re-negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty (“CRT”). The CRT is the largest international water storage agreement between Canada and the United States. The three Indigenous Nations are united in their approach to the re-negotiation of the Treaty and are shocked that Global Affairs Canada would unilaterally forgo an important opportunity for Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberal government to demonstrate his commitment to rights recognition and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

The CRT holds back 15.5 million acres/feet of water every year for flood control and power generation with an estimated annual value of $3 billion USD. The CRT has had massive impacts on the Territory of the three Nations including; the desecration of sacred, village and burial sites; the loss of fish populations and harvest areas, and; the turning of a vibrant river into industrial water storage reservoirs. All residents of the Columbia River Basin continue to live with the devastating impacts of the CRT and its destructive legacy. Indigenous Nations have been excluded since 1964 when the CRT was ratified and are now being told that they will continue to be marginalized and shut out of decisions directly affecting their title and rights. This decision is blatantly inconsistent with the Government’s commitments to advance reconciliation.

Since July 2017, the Government of Canada has continuously highlighted its commitment to “achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation of transformative change” as expressed in the Federal Government’s Ten Reconciliation Principles statement. This commitment was further solidified by the Prime Minister’s speech made in the House of Commons of February 14, 2018 in relation to the implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”). Since 2011, the three Nations have been participating in good faith in the CRT renewal process and over the last few years we have had the full intention of holding the Trudeau government true to their commitment of reconciliation through respecting the self-determination and aspirations of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, and Syilx Okanagan Nations.

The Columbia River Treaty exclusion is amongst the latest of political disappointments experienced by Indigenous Peoples, including the continued Liberal support for the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, and Syilx Okanagan leadership are expressing their collective outrage by providing the following comments:

Kathryn Teneese, Chairperson of the Ktunaxa Nation Council has stated, “Our Nation has suffered profound losses to our culture and way of life as a result of the Columbia River Treaty.” Teneese concluded her remarks by stating, “We have been working very closely with the Syilx Okanagan, Secwepemc, Canada and BC to chart a new future for the CRT that creates positive outcomes for Indigenous Nations, the region, BC and Canada. We have to find a comprehensive and effective means to fully participate in the negotiations process in order to achieve these positive outcomes.”

Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, Chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council has stated that, “The Secwepemc Nation has worked collaboratively with Canada on Columbia River Treaty matters to date. This exclusion represents another of Prime Minister Trudeau’s lies to the world about reconciliation.” Kukpi7 Christian concluded by stating that, “The Secwepemc Nation must be involved in all decisions about Secwepemc Territory.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the Syilx Okanagan Nation has stated that, “This completely unexpected and shocking unilateral decision by Minister Freeland to exclude Indigenous Nations is an act of absolute treachery. Canada has begun to replicate the aggressively destructive behaviour of President Trump against Indigenous Nations.” Grand Chief Phillip concluded by stating that, “This is a fundamental betrayal of our three Nations’ Indigenous Rights; it undermines recognition and threatens the reconciliation path that Prime Minister Trudeau has so boldly championed. I’m genuinely afraid for Canada’s future economic stability if Canada lacks the courage to stand by its convictions and can so easily disregard its commitments to Indigenous Peoples.”

As next steps, the three Nations will be exploring all options available to them in response to Canada’s decision to exclude them from the re-negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty with the United States.

For Media Inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip Okanagan Nation Alliance
(250) 490-5314

Kukpi7 Wayne Christian
Shuswap Nation Tribal Council
(250) 503-7072

Jesse Nicholas
Ktunaxa Nation Council
(250) 342-6301

Syilx Chiefs Welcome Mental Wellness Funding Announcement

May 18th, 2018

Unceded Syilx Territory/Westbank, BC: The Chiefs of the Syilx Okanagan Nation welcome yesterday’s announcement establishing a $30 million fund targeted towards Mental Wellness. The much-anticipated funding agreement is a result of collaboration between the Province, Canada and the First Nations Health Council and will provide the much-needed resources to provide resources needed to address mental wellness issues at the community-level. The funding announcement is also an important step towards improving health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, including Syilx Peoples. The funding announcement comes at a critical time where Syilx families and communities continue to battle the impacts of mental health and addictions-related issues on a daily basis.

For countless generations, Indigenous health has been connected to the health and well-being of our lands. The Syilx Okanagan Chiefs have been working at every level of advocacy to bring mental health and addictions issues to the forefront and welcomes this funding commitment that will hopefully shed light on these critical issues. The funding agreement also outlines priorities to improve structuring at the local, regional, and provincial levels aimed at ensuring that BC First Nations are full partners in the planning, design, funding in delivery of mental health and substance use services. This work will require effective partnerships with the Ministry of Child and Family Development, Interior Health and other organizations recognizing and respecting the need for Syilx-specific approaches to be fully developed and implemented.

OKIB Councillor Allan Louis, FNHC Interior Representative has stated that, “The Syilx Okanagan Nation’s health and well-being is directly tied to the health of our lands. The Syilx Okanagan Nation has a long tradition of healing practices and approaches and the Nation is best positioned to design approaches aimed at improving the mental wellness outcomes for Syilx Peoples.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Syilx Okanagan Nation has stated that, “For years, we have advocated at every level for the funding necessary to initiate a Nation-coordinated approach to provide mental wellness services to our families and communities.” Grand Chief Phillip concluded by stating, “Yesterday’s announcement confirms that our years of advocacy has finally been heard.”

Media Inquiries:
Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Manager
Phone: at (250) 826-7844

MEDIA RELEASE- 2018 May 18 – Syilx Chiefs Welcomes Mental Wellness Funding Announcement

Okanagan Nation Celebrates 10th Annual Spirit Of Syilx Youth Unity Run To Continue Promoting Suicide And Violence Prevention And Awareness

May 9th, 2018

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: From May 10-13, 2018, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) will celebrate the 10th Annual Spirit of Syilx Youth Unity Run., This annual event is an innovative approach to raising awareness and education with all participants and the public on issues of suicide and violence that continue to confront Syilx communities. The Run exceeds these initial goals and continues to be a proven prevention platform to de-normalize violence, while creating a healing space for Syilx youth.

It addresses these issues by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and living through action, and physical exercise. Syilx youth are also provided the opportunity to experience being out on their territory together as Nation. As such this event addresses a broad range of community and societal issues from suicide and violence, to cultural reconnection with nationhood and the land. Overall, by utilizing a wide range of tools, from physical activity, connection to the territory and implementation of the Syilx teachings the Run enables participants to cultivate a greater sense of well-being.

“Over the last ten years, the Unity Run has evolved to provide a dynamic means of addressing issues of suicide and violence, while enabling an opportunity for greater awareness of cultural identity and healing to take place. A growing body of research shines a light on how such connections to community and land cannot only prevent but to also restore physical, mental and spiritual well-being of our youth. These best practices of gathering and engaging on the territory are resonate to our People as they have always been an intrinsic part of Syilx life. Any participant that has contributed to the Run over the last ten years can attest to these lasting experiences” states Jennifer Houde, Wellness Manager, ONA.

This year the Unity Run will begin at Blanket Creek Provincial Park, heading south to Nakusp and Fauquier, on to Cherryville and finishing at Polson Park in Vernon at 2:30 on May 13. In total, the Run will go through 309 km of the Syilx Territory. There will be a multitude of participants including Syilx youth, elders, leaders, community members and a range of other participants that wish to contribute to the event.

“Our 10th year of hosting the Unity Run is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all our member communities that come together to celebrate and hold up our Youth. This Run creates new experiences that instil wellness and pride in our culture and nsyilxcen language for generations to come. Our Youth are out on the land with our elders, cultural knowledge keepers, meeting other youth from across the Territory and building and fostering strength in each other and our Nation” states Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, ONA Chairman.

For additional information please contact:

Jennifer Houde, ONA CFYH Service Manager

Cell: 250-826-7844


Okanagan Nation Committed To Restore sc’win (Sockeye Salmon) to Their Natural Habitat –The Okanagan Watershed

May 1st, 2018

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: Over the course of May, 2018, the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s (ONA) kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓  Hatchery will release 1.23 million sc’win (sockeye salmon) fry into the Okanagan watershed. This initiative includes a series of ceremonial releases that will take from May 2-15 at Shingle Creek, Trout Creek, 6 Mile Creek, and Mission Creek respectively. These fry releases are integral to the Syilx peoples’ continued successful efforts to return sc’win back to the Syilx territory, and since 2016 specifically to Okanagan Lake. Such activities provide an opportunity for the Syilx people to affirm deep connections with sc’win, the land, the waters which are central to Syilx traditional food systems, while continuing to revitalize our language, songs and prayers, and thus the perpetuation of Syilx culture.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. ONA Chairman states that “As Syilx People we have an inherent responsibility to continue working to bring the salmon back to our Territory. Our ancestors had many different ceremonies to call the salmon back, and the Okanagan Nation continue to conduct ceremonial fry releases as a key means of affirming our cultural connections and responsibilities to our relative, sc’win”.

Howie Wright, ONA’s Fisheries Program Manager, points out that “Due to its size and depth, the continued reintroduction of sockeye fry back to Okanagan Lake ensures that revitalization of these stocks are resilient in face of the challenges posed by climate change. It has the significant potential to meet food, social, and ceremonial needs, providing food security for communities, while seeing a broad range of biological and economic benefits”.

These ceremonies are critical given that sockeye salmon were nearly extirpated in the Okanagan Basin. In the 1960’s the Columbia River Treaty and habitat impacts in the Okanagan basin led to the creation of industrial reservoirs, and the building hydro-electric developments on the Columbia River, making it impossible for fish passage, while deeply impacting Syilx cultural and food systems. Years of hard work and political advocacy, particularly in the last decade, have seen the ONA working with provincial, federal and US Tribes and agencies to rebuild this sockeye run from 3000 up to 500,000 salmon returning annually.


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’s kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓  Hatchery is central to our conservation efforts. The 25,000 square foot hatchery has the capacity to rear 8 million eggs, and is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for 5 million eggs from brood stock management until fry release.

For further information please contact:

Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager
T: 1-250-718-5215


2018 Sockeye Fry Release Schedule

Annual Sockeye Fry Release 

Date: May 2, 2018
Time: 9:30 – 11:30 am
Public Release: Okanagan Nation Alliance
Location: Penticton Channel, off Hwy 97 & Green Mountain Road, Penticton BC
Fry Released: 4,600
Details: This event hosts over 600 students from local schools that have raised fry through the ONA’s (ONA) Fish in Schools Program that will be released along with fry from the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery. A number of activities for participating students will also take place. Please drive slowly. Parking will be available along the left side of the Dyke and behind the Save on Gas station.

Trout Creek Fry Release

Date: May 3, 2018
Time: n/a
Private Release: Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Penticton Indian Band
Location: Trout Creek, Summerland, BC
Fry Released: 3,333
Details: This is a private event for the Penticton Indian Band, and will not be open to the public.

Mission Creek Fry Release

Date: May 14, 2018
Time: 1 – 2 pm
Public Release: Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Westbank First Nation
Location: Junction of Spiers Road and KLO Road, Kelowna, BC
Fry Released: 3,333


6 Mile Creek Fry Release

Date: May 15, 2018
Time: 1-2 pm
Public Release: Okanagan Nation Alliance and the Okanagan Indian Band
Location: Junction of Equesis Creek and Westside Road, Okanagan Indian Reserve
Fry Released: 3,333


For more information on any of these events please contact:

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: (250) 707-0095 ext. 120

MEDIA RELEASE – ONA Okanagan Lake Fry Releases 2018


April 10th, 2018

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On April 10, 2018, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia and the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) announced that $1.45 million has been secured to enhance flood mapping for the Okanagan Valley.

The funds received will go towards LiDAR* and digital aerial imagery acquisition for the entire Okanagan Valley watershed, which will greatly assist all partners to facilitate effective and dynamic flood mapping and risk assessments. Following the dramatic flooding throughout Syilx territory in 2017 that threatened the safety and wellbeing of multiple communities throughout the Nation, there is a pressing need to undertake risk assessments and flood mapping, and make the Okanagan more resilient to extreme precipitation.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Okanagan Nation Alliance Chair states “The Okanagan Nation affirms our constitutional rights and responsibilities related to our siwlɬkʷ (water). This announcement comes at a critical point in our shared history when we have the culmination of multiple challenges, including those posed by climate change, that threaten the health and function of siwlɬkʷ systems in the Okanagan. We must step away from old approaches and practices and to come together in partnership to commit to the sustainability of siwlɬkʷ and the safety of everyone who inhabits Syilx territory”.

This project will provide information for the entire watershed, allowing for more strategic planning and risk assessment to occur. By managing our land responsibly today, we entrust our future generations to a healthy land base and clean siwlɬkʷ. The project will be coordinated by all three parties, with funds being managed by the OBWB.

Chief Chad Eneas, Penticton Indian Band, reiterates “siwlɬkʷis one of our most sacred responsibilities, to protect and care for.  This partnership is another small step that demonstrates an integrated approach to fully understanding all aspects of the siwlɬkʷ cycle. We need to respect siwlɬkʷ and comprehend the impacts development has had on the floodplain, specifically over the last 100 years. This requires the research and data to highlight and responsibly plan for climate change.”

In July 2014, the Okanagan Nation Alliance endorsed the Syilx Water Declaration. The Syilx Water Declaration serves as a living document on our relations and values to water. For more information visit:

* LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is a remote imaging method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.


Q: What is LiDAR? Why has this project been initiated?

A: LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and is a remote imaging method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics. Following the dramatic flooding throughout Syilx territory in 2017, there is a need to undertake risk assessments and flood mapping, and make the Okanagan more resilient to extreme precipitation. LiDAR and digital aerial imagery for the Okanagan watershed will greatly assist all parties to facilitate flood mapping and risk assessments. All information gathered will be made available to Okanagan Nation communities to further enhance the capacity for emergency planning and community development.

Q: Who are all the parties involved?

A: The main partners on this project include the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), the Province of BC’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and GeoBC (a branch within the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development). The Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB) is a local government watershed agency, structured as a partnership of the Regional District of North Okanagan, the Regional District of Central Okanagan, and the Regional District of Okanagan‐Similkameen.

Q: What will these funds be used to accomplish?

A: The project will obtain LiDAR and produce orthoimagery for the entire watershed, and has structured this RFP to accommodate mapping requirements, the timing of funding approvals, and environmental constraints (the need for low water, snow free and smoke free conditions, among others). These funds will be administered by the OBWB. All Nation member communities will have access to the technical information and knowledge from these studies, enabling them to create more resilient and dynamic watershed management plans.

Q: Why is this project significant?

A: This project is a continuance of the collaborative work being carried out by ONA to address water-based issues in the territory, that includes the Environmental Flow Needs project: . Building on the success of this work the LiDAR project is the first of its kind based on the fact that all partners came together, rather than each doing their own work. This has allowed for the review and administration process to be rapidly expedited, providing all parties with valuable information in a timely manner.

For further information please contact:
Lisa Wilson, ONA Natural Resource Department Manager
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 221 E:


March 22nd, 2018

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On March 22, 2018, as part of World Water Day, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) hosted our 4th siwɬkʷ (Water) Forum. This event brought together 85 people, including Syilx leadership, elders, traditional knowledge keepers and community members, alongside regional and provincial government, NGO representatives and academics to connect out on the land, share perspective and build a collective siwɬkʷ (water) consciousness. The Okanagan Basin Water Board and BC Ministry of Forest, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, both ONA partners on the Environmental Flow Needs project were present, continuing to develop and build on working relationships necessary for better water management within the Territory. Participants engaged in dialogue on drinking water protection, wetlands, and other important issues to uptake all our responsibilities to manage water responsibly.

The tour began with a Syilx Water Ceremony on nx̌ʷaqʷaʔstn (Mission Creek). Attendees then toured the watershed with Syilx elder’s and knowledge holders who shared place names, protocols, and the Syilx natural laws regarding ukʷnakinx (Okanagan) watershed. These Syilx guides exhibited how water centric planning and management is a long-standing concept that Syilx people continue to practice as fundamental guiding principles.

Other stops on the tour included the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery, Penticton Oxbows Restoration site, and significant Syilx siwɬkʷ (water) places. These visits allowed for a deeper conversation to take place in regards to the need for continuing to develop water partnerships in the region. “When I think of how important Water is for all living beings in balance and harmony with the natural world, I think of the original agreement of Creation.  We as indigenous Peoples know and understand how we are inter-dependent on clean, safe, drinking water which was put here for us by the Creator.  It is all of our responsibility to be educated about the sacredness of Water,” stated Chief Chad Eneas, Penticton Indian Band .

The Syilx Nation envision a sustainable Territorial land, culture, and ways of life hundreds of years from now. By managing our land responsibly today, we entrust our future generations to a healthy land base and clean waters.

ONA recognize World Water Day and all the efforts globally that provide a deeper recognition to the sacredness of our water, a key to the future of our shared survival. In July 2014, the Okanagan Nation Alliance endorsed the Syilx Water Declaration. The Syilx Water Declaration serves as a living document on our relations and values to water. As it states “The Okanagan Nation has accepted the unique responsibility bestowed upon us by the Creator to serve for all time as protectors of the lands and waters in our territories, so that all living things return to us regenerated. When we take care of the land and water, the land and water takes care of us. This is our law.” For more information visit:

For further information please contact:

Lisa Wilson, ONA Natural Resource Department Manager

T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 221 E:

Syilx Language House Association Year 3 Interim Report

March 2nd, 2018

The Syilx Language House Association (SLHA) are reporting midway through the third year of their four-year language program. They are delivering best-practices and community language priorities. Their mission is to create advanced speakers and record Elders. They owe their success to the Paul Creek Curriculum and to commitment—of their students and teachers, of their Bands, and leadership for believing in this program. They have the highest student retention seen in any language program, let alone an advanced program. Students show exceptional speaking ability, creativity, vocabulary, grammar, a sense of confidence, and cultural knowledge. All eleven are well on our way to becoming mid- to high-intermediate speakers and a new family of learners. It is an honour to record and partner with twelve fluent Elders and publish a book of stories each year. Visit their website to view Elder recordings, classroom evaluation films, and our blog:

Syilx Language House Association Year 3 Interim Report

Syilx Okanagan Nation Calls for Justice Reform

March 1st, 2018

(Syilx Territory: Westbank, BC) – Community members from the Syilx Okanagan Nation gathered at the Penticton Courthouse on Monday February 26, 2018 to rally against the systemic injustices exposed by the deaths of Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine.

The deaths highlight how Canada’s legal system continues to fail Indigenous people. Earlier this month, an all-white jury acquitted a white Saskatchewan farmer of Colten Boushie’s murder. Colten Boushie was from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. Almost two weeks later, a jury acquitted a Winnipeg man accused of killing 15-year old Tina Fontaine, a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba.

“We are here to stand with the families and communities who are hurting from continued brutality and injustice”, said the rally’s organizers. “More must be done to protect our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer from injustice and indignity.”

In response to Colten Boushie’s death, the federal government has promised to reform how juries are selected in Canada. The Syilx Okanagan Chiefs are calling on the Trudeau government to take the steps necessary to ensure that Indigenous people can have faith in the criminal justice system and to partner with First Nations in this important work.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, attended the rally to stand in solidarity with the Boushie and Fontaine families. He noted that criminal justice reform must be part of the Government of Canada’s recently announced Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework (“Framework”). Grand Chief Stewart Phillip stated that, “True justice must not be delayed any further but felt by all our communities now if we are to advance our relationship, an opportunity we have always demanded, and the Prime Minister and his government now envision. There cannot be true reconciliation until our people are safe.”

Since the 1910 Sir Wilfred Laurier Memorial, the Syilx Okanagan Nation has been advocating for the recognition and implementation of Syilx Title and Rights. The Prime Minister’s announcement on the Framework was long overdue. Although the Syilx Okanagan Chiefs are concerned about the unrealistic timeline that has been set for developing the Framework, it is critical that First Nations be full partners in designing the Framework to ensure full implementation of Indigenous rights.

Chief Chad Eneas, Chair of the Syilx Okanagan Nation Natural Resources Council, noted that, “We have always governed ourselves. This is an opportunity for the federal government to finally recognize and support that fact.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, concluded by stating that, “Words alone are not enough. Concrete outcomes need to be realized. Although it is premature to speculate on whether the Framework will be a historic breakthrough, the Syilx Okanagan Nation is ready to engage on the Framework at the highest level in order to ensure our Title and Rights are rightfully upheld and fully realized. With the 2018 federal budget announcement recently made, we expect that the long-term and overdue resources are properly allocated to support the activities and innovation necessary to build healthier and stronger communities resulting in safer environments for our children and families.”

The Syilx Okanagan Nation represents its member communities and is mandated to protect, advance and defend its collective Title and Rights. The Nation’s member communities include: Okanagan Indian Band, Upper Nicola Band, Westbank First Nation, Penticton Indian Band, Upper Similkameen Indian Band, Lower Similkameen Indian Band, and Osoyoos Indian Band.

For more information please contact:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Okanagan Nation Alliance Chair

Tel: (250) 490-5314

Media Release -Syilx Okanagan Nation Calls for Justice Reform

Seeking Our snaqsilx Gathering to Connect Syilx Youth with Employment Opportunities

February 5th, 2018

Media Release – Seeking Our Snaqsilx Gathering

Westbank, Okanagan Territory: From February 5-6, 2017, Okanagan Nation Alliance’s (ONA) BRIDGE’s program, in Partnership with Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, and Okanagan Indian Band’s Pre-Employment Support team, are hosting a networking event at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, which brings Syilx youth and front line workers ( youth, social, education, employment, HR, Syilx organizations and industry) for a 2 day event that will connect youth with the various programs that can holistically support them in pursuing their educational and employment dreams.

This event has 54 Syilx youth from all Okanagan communities, 9 industry partners and 33 frontline staff all participating. The event includes engaging workshops, interactive panel discussions, cultural activities, inspirational Okanagan youth speakers, resource presentations and display tables from Bands, organizations and industry that want to connect with youth.

“The event is special because the youth have assisted in setting the agenda and identified the topics. And the opportunity to bring youth and those that provide the services within the community to have a dialogue about the gaps and barriers to services is a critical conversation that we hope will improve services and access for youth,” states Brenda Baptiste, ONA BRIDGES Program Manager.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, ONA Chairman applauds these efforts, stating that, “This event signifies the importance of these partnerships in ensuring our youth are successful. It exemplifies the progress being made by our Nation in addressing the gaps and barriers that have prevented our youth past and present in gainfully benefiting from employment and training programs and services that were meant to serve them”.

There are a number of barriers and challenges for youth to gain employment. This includes the number of different agencies and systems that youth are expected to find their way through. This event is an opportunity to hear from the youth what they see as the barriers and seek input from them about how to address these barriers.

“snaqsilx refers to all syilx people and their connection to one another, to their land, and all living things”.

Building Resources for Innovative Development, Growth and Economic Stability (BRIDGES) program is built upon the understanding that by creating a program that is rooted in culture, our youth will experience an increase in confidence and personal strength. This project is designed for youth ages 15-30 that may require assistance before accessing standard training programs and/or educational outlets.

For more information please contact:
Brenda Baptiste, BRIDGES Program Manager
T: 1.250.469.1791

Media Release – Seeking Our Snaqsilx Gathering

Working Partnerships Advance Protection of ki?lawna? (Grizzly Bear) and Other Threatened Wildlife

January 12th, 2018

Westbank), Syilx Territory: The ONA has been taking action to reduce pressures on ki?lawna? and recover threatened populations. Most recently, in collaboration with ONA, Clayton Lamb at the University of Alberta Department of Biological Sciences, released the results of a new study that provides insight on the relationships between ki?lawna? and road density. The results of Lamb’s study provide a scientific foundation for access management and habitat securement for this iconic and culturally significant species in the Kettle Granby region. This information will support similar work in the North Cascades and other threatened populations in the BC Southern Interior.

“Decommissioning roads and securing core habitat and linkage areas is now known to have tangible effects on grizzly bear numbers, which is information that we can apply to support recovery across Syilx Territory and the Province,” states Lisa Wilson, ONA Natural Resource Manager.

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

The ONA has also hosted a number of meetings with neighboring First Nations, Conservation Northwest as part of a Joint Nation Grizzly Bear recovery initiative. The group’s main objective is to recover threatened populations of ki?lawna? within our Territories. ONA is excited to seeing the results of positive working partnerships raising the importance of this work to ensure ki?lawna is recovered.

“It is our duty and responsibility to protect and care for the lands that are inhabited by our relations. The Province of British Columbia, Government of Canada, as well as the State of Washington and the United States Government have a fiduciary obligation to protect the Grizzly Bear from potential extinction. The ONA is calling on them to act promptly and effectively to implement cooperative actions for the protection of ki?lawna?.” states Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.

For further info contact:
Lisa Wilson, ONA Natural Resources Manager
t: 1.250.707.0095 ext.221 e:

MEDIA RELEASE – Grizzly Bear Reintroduction

To Honor and Educate, Unveiling of Syilx Indian Residential School Monument

November 28th, 2017

snpíntktn (Penticton), Syilx Territory: Today the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) held an official public unveiling ceremony for the new Syilx Indian Residential School monument. This monument is placed where the train and the cattle trucks came to gather Syilx children and take them away to Indian Residential Schools, next to the kł cpə̓ lk) stim̓ Hatchery, on the Penticton Indian Band reserve. Over 200 people attended the unveiling ceremony from both Syilx communities, including many Indian Residential School survivors, and general public at large..

The monument houses a series of five panels that are intended to educate all about the Syilx Nation and the effects of the Indian Residential School system had on our communities. As a central feature of the monument Syilx artist ‘Smoker’ Virgil Marchand created a sculpture titled “kwu səckm̓ antaʔx iʔ scəcmalaʔtət kl” citxwtət (Bringing Our Children Home)”. Marchand is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, and himself a survivor of the Indian Residential School system. This sculpture is significant in that it honours the many ways in which we are calling those children who had been torn away from their parents, families, and communities back, to heal and move forward.

Overall, the purpose of this monument is to bring all communities together to acknowledge former Syilx students of the Indian Residential School system, while recognizing our continued resilience, culture and spirituality of the Syilx Nation. Eric Mitchell, a Syilx Indian Residential School survivor implored other Indian Residential School survivors to “Find it in your heart to share your story. The more you talk about it, the more you understand.”

The Indian Residential School system significantly impacted the Syilx Nation and the effects continue to be felt today. ONA Chairman, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip stated “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission declared that the Indian Residential School system represented a deliberate policy of cultural genocide perpetrated against the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. A policy designed to destroy and obliterate Indigenous languages, culture and Indigenous spirituality. Today’s ceremony seeks to honor the victims of the Residential School experience and celebrate the heroic resilience and ongoing recovery of our Residential School Survivors.”

About Indian Residential Schools: Starting in the 1800s and ending in 1996, the Indian Residential School system sought to aggressively assimilate Indian children and “take the Indian out of the child”. The Canadian government funded these schools, and most were run by religious denominations. The main focus was on removing children from their families, to strip away ancestral languages and cultures, and then replace them with English and Christianity.

For further information please contact:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, ONA Chairman: 1-250-490-5314

Jennifer Houde, ONA Wellness Manager: 1- 250-707-0095 ext. 128

Project in Progress: Penticton Channel PIT Array Installation

November 28th, 2017

From November 28-30, 2017, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Penticton Indian Band (PIB) crews will be working together to install four PIT (Passive Integrated Transponders) arrays in the Penticton channel, just north of the former KVR bridge. These arrays are used to record the movement of any PIT tagged fish species that use the channel for habitat or migration. PIT tags are detected and logged as they pass through antennae arrays.  There are many arrays located throughout the Columbia River for tracking the movement and survival of tagged fish.

What are PIT tags: About the size of a grain of rice, these electronic, battery-free tags are similar to the tags installed in dogs and cats by veterinarians to track lost pets. Each tag contains a unique code. When a tag passes by an antenna’s electrical field, a transceiver detects and stores the unique PIT tag number and the time that the tagged fish passed through the field. PIT tags allow us to identify and track individual fish from their release as juveniles to their return as adults. Sockeye smolts are PIT tagged by ONA and community members from both Osoyoos Lake and the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery.

Where: The four PIT arrays are being installed within the 100m of channel north of the KVR abutments, south of Skaha Ford.

Safety – please refrain from interfering with any equipment and gear left on site

Why this is important/what are we learning: By monitoring the movement of PIT tagged fish, we can learn key information about species that use the Penticton channel:

  • Run-timing and survival of sockeye smolts to the lower most hydro-dam (Bonneville Dam) in the Columbia River system
  • Migratory timing, delays on the return, and smolt to adult ratios (total survival from smolt to return) from tagged fish that return as adult

Background/History: Construction of permanent flood control dams in the Canadian portion of the Okanagan Basin in the 1950’s has blocked anadromous salmon from a significant portion of their historical range, which includes q̓awst’ik’wt (Skaha Lake) and kłusxənitkw (Okanagan Lake). In 1999, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) initiated a research program, funded by Bonneville Power Administration, to evaluate the feasibility of reintroducing sockeye salmon into their historical range. A 3-year risk assessment of Sockeye reintroduction was carried out by the Canadian Okanagan Basin Technical Working Group (COBTWG), whose participants include the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO). The risk assessment, completed in April 2003, concluded that the reintroduction of sockeye into Skaha Lake posed little risk to existing Okanagan Sockeye and resident Skaha Lake Kokanee populations.

The decision was made to introduce hatchery-reared sockeye fry into Skaha Lake as it posed little risk and would allow for in-lake monitoring of food web response. The COBTWG worked to develop and approve a 12-year framework for the Experimental Reintroduction of Sockeye Salmon into Skaha Lake: Proposed Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (Wright and Smith 2003), which outlines the project rationale, method of reintroduction, and a series of performance measures to address production, growth and survival of sockeye and kokanee. The 12-Year, adaptive management experiment was designed to be reversible if monitoring demonstrates significant negative impacts to either the existing Osoyoos Sockeye or Skaha Lake Kokanee populations.

Typically, hatchery-raised, thermal marked fry produced are released into Penticton Channel upstream of Skaha Lake. In 2014, a record number of 2.5 million eggs were collected from the Okanagan stock, and a significant number of eggs were produced from natural Sockeye spawning in the Penticton Channel upstream of Skaha Lake. Sockeye fry spend one year in Skaha and Osoyoos lakes before migrating to the ocean. The migration typically begins in early spring. Understanding migration patterns and biological traits of sockeye smolts from both lakes is necessary for monitoring and evaluating the Skaha Lake Sockeye Reintroduction Program. An important objective is to determine the migration timing, size, and age structure of wild and hatchery-origin sockeye smolts as they migrate through Osoyoos Lake.

Since 2012, ONA has been implanting Sockeye smolts with uniquely coded PIT tags. PIT tags can be detected and logged as they pass through antennae arrays located throughout the Columbia River. From these detections, we are able to estimate smolt travel time and overall survival as Sockeye migrate to the Pacific Ocean. Ideally, a large number of PIT tagged Sockeye will return as adults and be detected in the arrays as they migrate back to the Okanagan to spawn.

In partnership with Penticton Indian Band.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Joan Phillip win 2017 Eugene Rogers Environmental Award

November 27th, 2017

Courtesy of the Wilderness Committee

VANCOUVER – The Wilderness Committee is awarding the 2017 Eugene Rogers Environmental Award to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Joan Phillip at the Wilderness Committee’s Annual Open House.

They were chosen for their decades of commitment to preserving and protecting lands, waters and the environment for future generations. They have stood up against damaging industrial development such as the Site C dam, Kinder Morgan pipeline, Ajax open-pit copper mine and the salmon farm industry, to name a few.

“Stewart and Joan are two of the hardest working environmental activists that I have ever met,” said Joe Foy, Wilderness Committee National Campaign Director. “They are constantly attending gatherings, meetings, and rallies, visiting communities and speaking to the public and the media on the environmental issues of our time. Stewart and Joan have provided invaluable direction and support to those working to protect BC from ill-conceived industrial projects.”

This year is the 25th anniversary of the award. The Wilderness Committee presents the Eugene Rogers Environmental Award each year to citizens who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to protect the environment and advocate for a better society. The award comes with a $1,000 dollar prize.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is an Okanagan Indigenous leader who has served as president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs since 1998. Joan Phillip is an elected member of the Penticton Indian Band Council and a lifelong advocate for Indigenous rights. They have been married for over 30 years.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Joan Phillip will received the award on November 25, 2017, at the open house starting at 3 p.m. at 46 East 6th Ave.

For more information, please contact:
Joe Foy | National Campaign Director,  Wilderness Committee
(604) 880-2580,

Honouring Syilx Indian Residential School Survivors With Unveiling of Nation Monument

November 24th, 2017

snpíntktn (Penticton), Syilx Territory: On November 28, 2017, the Okanagan Nation Alliance will hold an official public unveiling ceremony for the new Syilx Indian Residential School monument. All Syilx Nation members and the general public are invited to attend this significant ceremony.

This monument is dedicated to all Syilx people who went to Indian Residential School, especially to those who did not make it home. With this monument, we commemorate the survivors and the legacy of the Indian Residential School era and we celebrate the fact that we are still here and growing stronger every day – Our Nation is travelling the healing path.

The monument is located on the Penticton Indian Band reserve, next to the kł cpə̓ lk) stim̓ Hatchery. The location was chosen as it is where the train and the cattle trucks came to gather Syilx children and take them away to Indian Residential Schools.

Date: November 28, 2017
Time: 11 am
Location: 155 En’Owkin Trail, next to the kł cpə̓ lk) stim̓ Hatchery

Directions: From Hwy 97 N (Kelowna) – Continue on Hwy 97 into Penticton until you get to Green Mountain Rd and take a right. Continue on this road for 650 meters where you will see a sign for the ONA Hatchery (155 En’owkin Trail Rd).

From Hwy 97 S (Keremeos/Oliver) – Continue on Hwy 97 north when you start to get into Penticton until you get to Green Mountain Rd and take a left. Continue on this road for 650 meters where you see a sign for the ONA Hatchery (155 En’owkin Trail Rd).

ONA staff will be on-site to direct traffic for parking. Closest to the En’owkin Centre on En’owkin Trail will be reserved for Elder parking. General parking will go in towards the Ball Field.

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.

For further information please contact:

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

MEDIA ADVISORY- Monument Unveiling Ceremony


November 8th, 2017

Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is pleased to announce that the Syilx Indian Residential Committee have officially selected artist ‘Smoker’ Virgil Marchand to procure the art for the monument. ‘Smoker’, himself a survivor of the Indian Residential School system at St. Mary’s Mission boarding school, will create the art, which will be an essential part of the monument. Marchand is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, and is a self-taught artist whose practice is based on bronze and steel works.

As Marchand has stated “I will always embrace the natural elements of my culture and heritage and share my art talents with others whenever I can. I know how much it helped me, and how it took a troubled youth and made him a person others respect and admire. If my experiences, trials and errors can contribute to bringing out the talents of others, than I have truly appreciated the spirit of the gift art has given me”.

The Syilx Indian Residential School Committee (SIRSC) has been working for over a year to develop a collective Nation monument to recognize Syilx attendees of Indian Residential Schools. This substantial monument will honour the resilience of Syilx residential school survivors and recognize a time in our history. It will also provide a significant opportunity to educate and create awareness with the general public in regards to this often-unrecognized part of colonial history.

On September 27, 2017, construction began on the monument located on just outside of the Okanagan Nation’s kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery. The site was chosen as an important historical place marker where Syilx children were gathered and displaced to residential schools using trains and cattle trucks.

The unveiling of the Okanagan Nation’s Indian Residential School Monument will take place on November 28, 2017 at 11:00 am. It will include a formal unveiling of the monument with key contributors and dignitaries, followed by a feast. This event is open to the public.

For More Information on the project please contact Jennifer Houde, ONA Wellness Manager at or go to

ONIRS Monument Artist Announcement



November 2nd, 2017

(Syilx Okanagan Territory/Vernon, BC – November 1, 2017) The Chiefs of the Syilx Okanagan Nation are deeply concerned with the recent developments at Salmon River Road in the North Okanagan given the current status of Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (“MMIWG”) in this country.

Recently, Syilx Okanagan Nation members have been rallying to bring this important issue to the forefront and leadership from the Okanagan Indian Band and the Syilx Okanagan Nation are closely monitoring the Salmon River investigation to determine whether any of the investigations findings are MMIWG-related. Currently, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have not indicated whether the Salmon River investigation could be possibly related to any of the five women that have gone missing from the North Okanagan in the past two years.

The Salmon River Road investigation could be potentially the latest development in the on-going MMIWG issue affecting Canada and has resulted in a National Inquiry formed to examine the systemic causes of violence directed against Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Sources have concluded that the number of MMIWG victims could be as high as 4,000. While it is yet to be determined whether the current investigation is MMIWG-related, Syilx Okanagan leadership are calling for more attention to be paid to the issue of violence against women and girls and that this pressing issue be brought to the forefront in the North Okanagan.

Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band has stated that, “First and foremost, our prayers and thoughts are with the family of Traci Genereaux who received confirmation that her remains have been found in addition to the families who are awaiting further information stemming from this investigation; it has to be an incredibly challenging time for those families. The current investigation being carried out at a local Salmon River farm drives home the fact that violence against women is not an issue that is only brought to light under the present circumstances; it demands constant and unrelenting action and on-going vigilance of society as a whole.” He further stated that, “Everyone has an active role in addressing this issue. We must all speak out against those who physically, verbally, mentally and spiritually abuse women and girls. We, as men, must take full responsibility of the fact that much of these types of abuse are perpetuated by men.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the Syilx Okanagan Nation concluded by stating that, “It is the sacred duty of all Canadians to vigorously oppose any and all forms of the demeaning, humiliating, and too often, brutally tragic manifestations of violence against women and girls.”

MEDIA ADVISORY – 2017 Nov 1 – Salmon River Investigation

Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip                            Chief Byron Louis

Okanagan Nation Alliance                                      Okanagan Indian Band

(250) 490-5314                                                          (250) 542-0045

Working Together to Establish a National Park Reserve in South Okanagan

October 27th, 2017


OSOYOOS, BRITISH COLUMBIA – With rolling hills and sweeping valleys, the South Okanagan offers a stunning landscape ranging from near-desert to rich forests of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir that support an incredible range of rare animals and plants. The South Okanagan is one of Canada’s most unique habitats and has sustained Syilx/Okanagan communities for thousands of years.

Today, three Southern Communities of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation, alongside the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, announced a renewed commitment to work together to establish a new national park reserve in the South Okanagan. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman, and Chief Clarence Louie, representing the three Southern Communities of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation, made the announcement at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos.

Three Southern Communities of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation, Parks Canada, and British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy are resuming discussions to protect lands as a national park reserve in the South Okanagan. Planning discussions through this joint partnership will commence immediately.

“A new national park reserve in the South Okanagan would protect one of Canada’s iconic natural and cultural landscapes and provide opportunities to share this inspiring place with Canadians and visitors from around the world,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna. “By renewing our commitment to work together to establish a national park reserve in the South Okanagan, we can conserve this incredible landscape for future generations. In so doing, we also honour and recognize the important role of Indigenous People of the region and their traditional use of these lands.”

As climate change continues, it is important to take protective measures to safeguard the significant and diverse regions of our country, such as the B.C. interior. The South Okanagan region represents an area of significant ecological, geographical, and cultural importance and offers a wide range of recreation and tourism opportunities. The Okanagan is one of the most ecologically-diverse regions of Canada, and protecting this area would support recovery of over 60 federally listed species-at-risk.

“We know the South Okanagan is a unique place that many British Columbians want to see protected as a national park reserve. We will work hard to make this happen, to preserve and protect the biodiversity of this special region, and for the positive contributions a national park reserve will make to the local economies,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman.

The establishment of a national park reserve in the South Okanagan represents a valuable opportunity to advance reconciliation and for Nation-to-Nation engagement with the three Southern Communities of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation leading to a new partnership model for management of the proposed national park reserve. These discussions will also take into consideration the continuation of ranching and recreational activities in the region.

“The collaborative work to develop national park reserve in the South Okanagan started decades ago. In 2002, I along with Senator Ross Fitzpatrick and others went to Ottawa to meet with the Prime Minister’s staff to explore the possibility of a national park in the South Okanagan. More recently, in 2011 the Osoyoos Indian Band and Lower Similkameen Indian Band took the lead on behalf of the Okanagan Nation to develop a Syilx Feasibility Study to allow for the inclusion of the Okanagan Nation perspectives. The funding provided to these two Bands resulted in the formation of the Syilx Parks Working Group, which completed its final report on December 18, 2012. Now, five years later we look forward to re-establishing the same process and implementing the recommendations of the Syilx Parks Working Group in light of the new advancements that have been made toward a new relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership, which promotes a lasting reconciliation,” said Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band.

The Syilx/Okanagan people have a responsibility to take care of their lands, waters, plants and animals and have always done so through protocols of respect and reciprocity.

The Government of Canada is committed to expanding its network of protected areas and protecting Canada’s biodiversity by conserving at least 17 per cent of our country’s land and freshwater by 2020 in collaboration with the provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other key partners.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has also committed to developing endangered species legislation to better protect British Columbia’s species-at-risk.

Media Contacts:

Media Relations

Chief Clarence Louie

Osoyoos Indian Band


Media Relations

Chief Keith Crow

Lower Similkameen Indian Band


Media Relations

Ministry of Environment

and Climate Change Strategy


Media Relations

Parks Canada Agency




De-Normalizing Violence PSA: Casting Call

October 25th, 2017

WHO: Syilx & Non Syilx Actors

WHAT: Series of 3 two-minute PSA style videos to introduce the ONA YES Program. For more information on the YES Program please visit:

WHEN: Saturday Oct 28 2017, Vernon 10am-12am (maybe Sunday morning)

No/low pay but Copy, Credit and Good Food

AUDITIONS: Thursday, Oct 26, and Friday, Oct 27, by appointment

Send Headshot (clear photo of you, no shadows) and resume (description of why you want to do this) to




SALLY: 25-35. Aboriginal female.

Young pretty, mother. Works in community as an accountant. Dresses in business attire at work but has an abundant club wardrobe.

JEFFERY, 25-35 Aboriginal male

Ruggid, construction/logger type. Angry kid type, ex hockey player



Jeffrey’s sister, Sally’s best friend. Works as a receptionist in community

MITCH 25-35 NON Syilx/Aboriginal

Jeffrey’s football friend


Jeffrey’s childhood friend

Granny/Grampa 60-75 ABORIGNAL female

Jeffrey’s Syilx Grandparent

ARIEL 3-5 – Aboriginal Female

Jeffrey and Sally’s daughter

ROBYN – 15-18 Aboriginal Female

Sally’s younger sister who hates babysitting

ANNIE: 25-40 Aboriginal Female

Woman from community, works in the same office as SALLY, MARCY


YES Program worker – Relative to Sally


5-10 Party-goers 25-40 mixed male female, mixed Aboriginal/ non Aboriginal