nʔaysnú laʔxʷ (Ashnola), Keremeos, BC, sməlqmí x / syilx Territory: Today, the sməlqmí x, the syilx people of the Similkameen Valley announced the designation of a new Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) in their territory. The Ashnola IPCA declaration upholds the inherent jurisdiction and responsibility of the sməlqmí x to protect and manage their territories according to sməlqmí x / syilx law.
“We welcome all governments, organizations and individuals who wish to learn more and to work with us, to take advantage of this historic opportunity to align their efforts with our inherent title, laws and management plans,” said kalʔlupaqn, Keith Crow, Lower Similkameen Chief. Protecting and conserving the water and tmixw (the life force within all four sacred ecosystems) is not the sole burden of sməlqmix / syilx. It should be shared, including by national, provincial and local governments through communication and collaboration. Through the IPCA, the nʔaysnú laʔxʷ / Ashnola Watershed in its entirety will be managed by the sməlqmí x in perpetuity for:
● the protection of the water, the ancestors and air / climate, in accordance with sməlqmí x / syilx law;
● maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity and sməlqmí x cultural interconnection with the territory through active sməlqmí x management and teaching;
● the healing and strengthening of the interconnected relationships between water, the earth, and all of those who interact with it. This includes the tmixw (the life force within all four sacred ecosystems), which are described in our story systems as: the under the earth tribes, the water tribes, the growing on the land tribes, and the walking and flying on the earth tribes of living beings;
● the spiritual, cultural and physical sustenance of the sməlqmí x people, including sustainable economic opportunities consistent with our responsibilities in the Ashnola.
“The Ashnola is one of the last pristine stream systems in sməlqmí x territory. Protecting the cold, pure waters of our watershed is essential if the smelqmix, the land, all beings, as well as settlers to the Similkameen, are to thrive in a time of climate change and increasing water scarcity,” said xitulax̣ʷ Ira Edward, Lower Similkameen Councillor.
A new kiosk and interpretative signage accompany the Ashnola IPCA designation, which was made at a ceremony in the watershed today, attended by dignitaries, elders, nation members, provincial, federal and local government representatives, and neighbouring nations. Licensees and non–sməlqmí x water and land users in the watershed will be given notice regarding how the new IPCA declaration will affect them.
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