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: www.syilx.org/about-us/syilx-nation/water-declaration/
For further information please contact:
Lisa Wilson, ONA Natural Resource Department Manager
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 221 E: firstname.lastname@example.org