(Syilx Okanagan Territory/Westbank, BC – July 21, 2017): The Okanagan Nation Alliance is pleased to receive the Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples that were released on Friday July 14, 2017. From the Nation’s perspective, these new principles will greatly assist the federal government in its reconciliation mandate and serve as a new baseline for Indigenous-Crown relationships.
In the last month, the Government of Canada and the rest of this country has celebrated 150 years since Canadian Confederation. However, from the Syilx Okanagan perspective, the last 150 years have been some of the most dark and tragic periods of time for our Nation. Yet, the Syilx Okanagan Nation has remained steadfastly committed to advancing its Title and Rights within Syilx Okanagan territory. For generations, the Syilx Okanagan Nation has been prepared to engage on true Nation-to-Nation dialogue premised on mutual respect and recognition and these principles are an indicator that the Government of Canada is finally prepared to engage in these discussions.
While the principles provide a solid foundation for a renewed Nation-to-Nation relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership, the long road ahead will require tireless and continued commitment by the Government of Canada, Canadians and the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, including the Syilx Okanagan Nation.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance has stated that, “These new principles are an important first step in improving Indigenous-Crown relationships, but the proof is action and outcomes.” He further stated that, “These principles are a long-awaited response to the 1910 Sir Wilfred Laurier Memorial, where the Syilx Okanagan Nation and other Indigenous Nations first addressed the grave injustices and infringements on these Nations Title and Rights as a result of rapid settlement and colonization.”
The Okanagan Nation Alliance represents its eight (8) member communities and is mandated to protect, advance and defend the Syilx Okanagan Nation’s collective Title and Rights.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Chair – Okanagan Nation Alliance