November 21st, 2020

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

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

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


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


For further information please contact:

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead

T: 1-250-862-6866  E: 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


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: `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”

Supporting CCT Donations Drive

September 14th, 2020

In response to the ongoing fires on the Colville Reservation, the ONA is collecting donations to support the families affected. These donations will be delivered to them next week. Any contributions are greatly appreciated.

Drop Off Date, Time and Locations:

Westbank – Sept 14-16, 2020 8:30am – 4:30pm at ONA main office

Oliver: Sept 15, 2020 12:30pm – 3:00pm at OIB band office parking lot

Keremeos: Sept 15, 2020 3:30pm – 5:30pm at LSIB band office parking lot

Penticton: Sept 16, 2020 5:00pm – 7:00pm at ONA Wade office


See poster for more details and items we are looking for and accepting:

Colville Donations Poster

Congratulations qʷyqʷʕayáx̌n: stim aʔ ckistxʷ What do You do?

August 10th, 2020

The Okanagan Nation Alliance would like to congratulate qʷyqʷʕayáx̌n Levi Bent on his new book “stim aʔ ckistxʷ what do you do?”

If you wish to purchase a copy and support qʷyqʷʕayáx̌n Levi, email nxastatkw Elizabeth Bent at: nxastatkw@gmail.com

” I have been involved in learning and teaching nsyilxcen for over 10 years and am eager to share nsyilxcen language and culture to children and families in a fun and new light. Being a second language learner myself, I am aware of the unique challenges that we deal with in acquiring our language. It is with complete honesty that I wish to use my talents to help bring back the language of our ancestors” – qʷyqʷʕayáx̌n Levi Bent

Update: Access to sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (OK Falls) fishery

August 6th, 2020

August 4, 2020

In his new role as Syilx Okanagan Nation Tribal Chair, Chief Clarence Louie and his team met with the Assistant Deputy Minister of the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development yesterday afternoon to discuss the access issues at the sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (OK Falls) fishery.

BC expressed its willingness to work with the Nation to secure safe, unfettered access to the fishery for our members. BC committed to working with the ONA to identify and implement permanent solutions moving forward. Chief Louie, Tribal Chair, and his ONA technical negotiation team will provide further community updates on this important issue as discussions continue with BC.

2020 Recipients of the Building a Better Future Bursary

July 30th, 2020

Each year the Okanagan Nation Alliance and Fortis BC provide two awards of $1200.00 to financially support eligible Syilx/ Okanagan Nation members enrolled or accepted into a recognized university or college on a full-time basis in a minimum 2 year program. Additionally we have received donations from  Hi-Trax, Lance McLean (PIB) and Progressive Fence, thus we were able to offer two additional $1200.00 bursaries.

This year the Okanagan Nation Alliance is pleased to announce four bursaries as part of this years Building a Better Future Bursary Program. The 2020 recipients are: