News

Syilx Okanagan Nation Demands Justice for Victims One Year After Remains of 215 Children Unearthed at Kamloops Indian Residential School

May 23rd, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On May 27, 2022, the Syilx Okanagan Nation recognizes the one-year anniversary of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announcing the unearthing of 215 remains at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Children from across many First Nations, including the Syilx Okanagan Nation, attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and this revelation is felt by every Syilx Okanagan family. This horrifying discovery has confirmed what our survivors have said for years — that the violence and abuse far exceeded what was previously reported.

The legacy of the Indian Residential School system has had devastating impacts on the Syilx Okanagan Nation that continues to be felt today. The loss of language and culture for the Syilx Nation, and harm created, cannot be underestimated as expressed by Jack Kruger,” I for one can’t accept an apology in any form.  I don’t want money; I want our language and culture back.  I want the church to pay for every native of every Nation, every Syilx that wants to go to school and receive proper support to learn their language and culture again,”  Over the last year we have witnessed the general public in Canada become aware of these issues, and yet there has been little to no movement towards ensuring meaningful justice for the victims. Syilx Okanagan people and families affected by this news still have no information regarding the specificities of these remains, and no pathway has been provided for how to move forward. Grace Greyeyes added,” I want to see those people responsible for what happened to those children have justice done for our people.  They need to acknowledge the fact that those schools were designed by the Church and by the Canadian Government to get rid of the Indians”.

“After one year of this issue being recognized by the Government of Canada, we have seen no movement towards meaningful justice for these victims, hollow apologies will not suffice. We continue to demand that the federal government take direct action to criminally investigate these findings. This is murder and it’s not being investigated as such,” Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair stated. To date no person or institution have been charged in these egregious crimes.

We continue to collectively send prayers to all peoples who are being impacted by these tragic findings, alongside all Tribal Nations that continues to be re-traumatized by Indian Residential Schools. All these spirits deserve the space to be honored, grieved, and properly cared for. We are also calling on all people to recognize May 27 by wearing orange shirts and supporting Indian Residential School survivors everywhere.

“Over 7,000 unmarked graves have been recovered across Turtle Island in the last year. As these numbers continue to grow, we cannot make them just numbers — each child was a prisoner of war. This intentional cultural genocide was and is to kill the Indian in the child, to remove Indigenous people from each other, their spirit and the lands that the settlers covet. We also recognize that the continued recovery of unmarked graves is traumatizing for many Nation members and First Nations peoples in general.  As these truths continue to be unearthed we encourage all Nation members to unite and continue supporting the survivors and each other through the emotional and mental health impacts of the recent findings,” Louie added.

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The Syilx Indian Residential School (SIRS) Committee is a group of highly dedicated, intergenerational Syilx Indian Residential School survivors. The SIRS Committee is invaluable in providing direction to the Nation on numerous projects regarding the Indian Residential Schools. This Committee, represented by the seven member communities, has expressed that they feel a sense of belonging from participating on this Committee. They have a true ownership role in ensuring projects move forward, taking into account their knowledge and experience. For more information on the Syilx Indian Residential School experience visit: www.syilx.org/wellness/indian-residential-school/

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society has a 24/7 emergency crisis: 1-800-721-0066. KU-US Crisis Line Society also provides a 24-hour provincial Indigenous crisis line: Adults call 250-723-4050; children and youth call 250-723-2040; or toll-free 1-800-588-8717.

For further information please contact:
Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair
T:  250-498-9132

Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager
T: 250-826-7844
E: wellness.manager@syilx.org

Media Release


Media Advisory – Syilx Okanagan Nation’s Fry Release at akɬ xʷuminaʔ

May 4th, 2022

WHEN: Thursday, May 5th, 2022. 9:30 am – 10:30 am. WHAT: Syilx Okanagan Nation members, and nearlyt 400 students from 13 local schools, will take part in a ceremonial release of 10,000 sc’win (sockeye) fry. These fry have been raised as part of Okanagan Nation Alliance’s (ONA) Fish in Schools (FinS) Program, along with fry […]

nʔaysnú laʔxʷ iʔ k̓łluxʷnwixʷmntət Declaration of the Ashnola Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA)

April 28th, 2022

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 […]

Syilx Nation Demands Accountability and Justice for the Victims of Deliberate Genocide and Murder in the Face of Ongoing Denial and Lack of Accountability for Indian Residential Schools

April 4th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On April 1, 2022, Pope Francis issued an apology for the conduct of some Roman Catholic Church members in the Canadian residential school system after a week of discussions with a delegation of First Nation, Inuit and Metis representatives. This followed the Government of Canada recent pledge of an additional $2.9 million to assist […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Celebrate World Water Day with 8th Annual Water Forum that Included Key Notes from Maori Water Activists and Local Water Ceremonies

March 23rd, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation celebrated World Water Day with the 8th annual siwɬkʷ (Water) Forum. This year’s Forum explored how the Syilx Okanagan Nation holds up siwɬkʷ as a living relative, and how we can continue to collaborate to protect siwɬkʷ.  The morning included an online event, which started with WFN […]

Okanagan Nation Alliance to Have Full Voting Rights on Okanagan Basin Water Board

March 2nd, 2022

Kelowna, B.C. – The three regional district boards of the Okanagan have voted to change the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB)’s governance structure, giving the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) representative equal voting powers as the representatives appointed by the regional districts. This amends a provision in place since the ONA’s seat on the water board […]

Open Letter Regarding Freedom Convoy Hate Crimes

February 15th, 2022

The Syilx Okanagan Nation Chief Executive Council is calling for swift response, and support, of regional officials and the RCMP to ensure the safety of our Nation members after receiving reports of a series of racially motivated violent crimes coming out of what is now referred to as Freedom Convoy movement on Syilx territory and […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Stands in Solidarity with the T’exelcemc as 93 Grave Sites are Located at the Old St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School Site

January 28th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation stands in solidarity with the T’exelcemc (people of Williams Lake First Nation) as preliminary results from geophysical investigations have identified 93 “reflections” of potential human burials, at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School near Williams Lake, BC. We are sending prayers to all peoples who […]

‘Fish in Schools’ Program Extends to Over 30 School in the Face of COVID-19 Restrictions

January 19th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: Over the last week the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) delivered the final round of the fish tanks and equipment to 30 schools throughout Syilx territory, including 13 returning schools and groups in the Columbia, as part of the Fish in Schools (FinS) program. These deliveries have come as new provincial regulations […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Call on US Secretary of Interior to Relaunch ki?lawna? (Grizzly Bear) Recovery Work in the Northern Cascades of the US

January 13th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation is urging the US Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland, to act immediately and relaunch the recovery planning process for ki?lawna (grizzly bear) in the US portion of the North Cascades. This process was stalled under the previous US Administration since 2016.  However, we are hopeful that the […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Demand Proper Engagement Regarding Recent Old Growth Forest Deferrals Announcement by the Province of BC

December 17th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation are deeply concerned and disappointed by the recent announcement by the Province of BC that claims to have engaged and consulted with 161 First Nations regarding old growth logging deferrals. Instead, of the 161 Nations that were ‘heard from’ on this process, most are fully opposed, and […]

wápupxn (lynx) Project

November 19th, 2021

Protection of all parts of the tmixw requires strong collaborations to ensure successful restoration efforts take place and assertion of our responsibilities throughout all parts of the territory. As part of this commitment the Okanagan Nation Alliance are working with the Colville Confederated Tribes — alongside local trappers, BC’s Ministry of Forests, Land, Natural Resource […]

One River, Ethics Matter Conference

November 11th, 2021

Okanagan Nation Alliance and UBCO, host Columbia River Conference Voices from both sides of the border discuss ethics of the Columbia River Treaty What: One River, Ethics Matter (OREM) conference Who: UBCO’s Jeannette Armstrong, ʔaʔsiwɬ Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, traditional knowledge keepers, environmental experts, academic and religious scholars When: November 17 and 18, from 9:00 […]

Syilx Okanagan Support Motor Vehicle Restrictions on Wildfire Burn Sites on the Territory

October 29th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Chiefs of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) firmly support the recent decision by the Province of British Columbia to restrict motor vehicle (MV) access on backroads in the Thompson Okanagan and parts of the Kootenay regions that have been impacted by the 2021 wildfire season. This closure is taking place […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Calls for Full Scale Overhaul of Ministry of Children and Family Development in Light of Saunders Case

October 7th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory:  The Syilx Okanagan Nation is extremely disappointed by the recent plea deal that was struck for Robert Riley Saunders — a long standing Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) social worker later found to be uncertified and who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Indigenous children on Syilx territory. […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Open Letter for the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

September 29th, 2021

The Syilx Okanagan Nation is calling on all Canadians to remember what September 30, 2021, means for Indigenous Peoples — beyond reconciliation.  Orange Shirt Day was spearheaded by Indian Residential School Survivor Phyllis Webstad, who shared her story widely to bring awareness to the harm and trauma created by colonialism and Indian Residential Schools on […]

Banners Installed to Honour Residential School Attendees and Families

September 28th, 2021

UBCO marks Orange Shirt Day with installation of banners                     UBCO general science student Fiona Lizotte and Okanagan Nation Alliance Wellness Manager Jennifer Lewis, both members of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, hold up the Orange Shirt Day Banners now hanging across the campus. UBC Okanagan, in […]

Taking a Stand with Orange Shirt Design

September 21st, 2021

Description of Imagery:  This image depicts a flying bird with rainbow wings, lined with the statements “əts ha’ stim iʔ scəcmalaʔ” and “puti kʷu aláʔ” — which translates to “every child matters” and “we are still here”. These phrases are like the wind beneath the bird’s wings that are lifting them up and supporting them […]

Moves Toward Decommissioning Wilsey Dam Another Step to Returning ntitiyx (Salmon) to All Parts of Syilx Territory

September 20th, 2021

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory:  After decades of advocating, the Okanagan Nation Alliance commends BC Hydro’s important step towards decommissioning Wilsey Dam and the Shuswap Falls Powerhouse. BC Hydro will now move forward planning for the decommission and prepare an application to the BC Utilities Commission to obtain approval to cease operations at the facility. These […]

Voting in the 2021 Federal Elections

September 17th, 2021

Greetings to our dear Elders, Leaders, and community members. With the greatest respect, we ask for your help and appeal for your support. We are working on getting out the vote on Election Day. One of our most important efforts in this campaign is to reach Indigenous voters and make it easy for them to […]

Access to sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (OK Falls) fishery Update

September 9th, 2021

The site of the sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (Okanagan Falls) salmon fishery is an important area in Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory. Prior to colonization it was the second largest inland fisheries on Syilx territory, and was a central part of our food, social and economic fisheries. Access has been an issue that the CEC have brought forward for […]

Artist Showcase: Csetkwe Fortier

August 30th, 2021

Csetkwe Fortier Csetkwe (Pronounced: chuh-set-quah) (Meaning: Lights Reflection on Water) Csetkwe is a multi-gifted artist with her roots in the Syilx (Okanagan) and Secwepmec (Shuswap) Nations. Holding the responsibility and respect of being stamia (two spirit), a sqwuy (mother to sons) and a Traditional Knowledge Keeper, she mainly represents in Live Arts and Visual Arts. […]

Community Harvesting Notice: Blue Tongue Outbreak

August 26th, 2021

Please be advised a Blue Tongue outbreak in a herd of california big horn sheep, by GrandForks, has been confirmed. We are encouraging hunters to report any sick game they come across to Addison Fosberry, ONA Wildlife Biologist at (250) 300-8226, for more information: epizootic_hemorrhagic_disease.pdf (gov.bc.ca)

Wildfire Safety Information

August 16th, 2021

The 2021 wildfire season has arrived early in BC with devastating consequences. Wildfires can start easily and spread quickly. Knowing what to do in an emergency is critical to ensuring the health and safety of your community members and protecting your critical infrastructure. For more details please visit: www.fnha.ca/about/news-and-events/news/wildfire-emergency-contacts-and-supports-2021 If you are evacuated and need […]

Community Fishing Notice: Mable Lake and Middle Shuswap River

August 4th, 2021

Fraser River Chinook are available for harvest in Mable Lake and at Shuswap Falls. The salmon fishery is open to members of the: Lower Similkameen Indian Band, Okanagan Indian Band, Osoyoos Indian band, Penticton Indian Band, Upper Nicola Band, Upper Similkameen Indian Band and the Westbank First Nation. This year the ONA fisheries department expects […]

Building a Better Future Bursary Receipents

July 29th, 2021

The ability of Syilx students to access post-secondary education is central to our Nation moving forward and our voices being heard. 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 […]

Syilx Okanagan Nation Celebrate Osoyoos Indian Band’s Land Purchase on the Lower Arrow Lakes

July 28th, 2021

snɬuxwqnm (Castlegar), Syilx Territory:  On July 28, 2021, the Syilx Okanagan Nation — including many Leaders, Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers — came together to celebrate the Osoyoos Indian Band’s recent acquisition of 9.5 acres of land along the Lower Arrow Lakes, just outside of snɬuxwqnm. We are grateful that our Traditional Knowledge Keepers and […]