20th Anniversary Sockeye Fry Release Ceremony at akɬ xʷuminaʔ, Shingle Creek on May 2, 2024

May 3rd, 2024

The 20th anniversary celebration of the sockeye salmon fry release along the Penticton channel riverbanks was a heartening display of community involvement and commitment to environmental stewardship. This annual release ceremony is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the sockeye salmon population in local waterways and educate the public about the importance of culture and conservation.

The presence of over 700 students from various schools in the South Okanagan, participating through the Fish in Schools program, reflects a concerted effort to engage and educate the younger generation about the significance of restoring ntytyix, chief salmon and the importance of ceremony. As well as the responsibility we as Syilx people have to the land and water.

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel said that even though the event has been ongoing for 20 years, this was the largest he had seen to date.  The nation was joined by our Fish in Schools program, with over 700 students throughout the south Okanagan in attendance.  Each student was gifted a can of Okanagan Select Salmon.

“It’s just a beautiful sight to see the children here, because they need to learn about these things. They are our future caretakers of the land and this is an important part of it,” Gabriel said.

“The more we educate each other, the general public and even our own community members, it’s going to make it easier for our future to survive, and especially things like our salmon, which is so important for our own people,” Gabriel said.

The ONA’s comprehensive approach, which includes stream restoration, rehabilitation, and dam passage initiatives alongside the fry release, demonstrates a holistic commitment to ensuring the salmon’s long-term survival. The variability in fry numbers from year to year, as noted by Hatchery Biologist Tyson Marsel, underscores the challenges faced in maintaining a sustainable salmon population.

The act of releasing the fry into the channel, accompanied by whispered wishes for their safe return, encapsulates the community’s collective hope for the salmon’s well-being and future abundance. Chief Gabriel’s closing sentiment, expressing a wish for the salmon’s safe return to the community for future feasts, reflects the profound connection between the people and the natural world.

Overall, the anniversary celebration serves as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness between culture, conservation, and community, emphasizing the importance of collaborative efforts in safeguarding our environment for generations to come.

Other News Published on this Event:



Decades of Advocacy and Collaboration lead to a ki?lawna? (Grizzly Bear) Restoration Plan for the North Cascades as the US recently Releases a Joint Record of Decision

April 30th, 2024

tkwəɬniwt Westbank, BC: With great support and celebration, the Syilx Okanagan Nation commends the National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the Announcement of the Decision to Actively Restore ki?lawna? (Grizzly Bear) to the North Cascades Ecosystem. The Nation looks forward to continuing our collaboration with the U.S. to restore grizzly bear populations to this transboundary ecosystem. We acknowledge the work of the two U.S. agencies: Department of Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the U.S. National Park Service, various ENGOs, and the public for their extensive community engagement, comments, and review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), March 21, 2024.

ki?lawna are an integral part of Syilx Okanagan culture and are a critical indicator of the health and well-being of the land and Syilx Okanagan people since time immemorial. “The decision to restore grizzly bears to this sacred part of the landscape is an indicator of our leadership’s commitments that demonstrates a clear example of our Nation’s continuing efforts to uphold our responsibilities for the tmixw. We are beginning a long process of recovery, and we are pleased to embark on this journey together with our US partners” stated Chief Clarence Louie, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) Tribal Chairman. The ONA has been recently apprised that the two agencies have signed a Record of Decision (April 25, 2024) selecting an alternative involving the active restoration of grizzly bears to the ecosystem under a 10(j) nonessential experimental population designation. When hearing about the announcement, ONA Natural
Resources Chair, Councillor Jordan Coble added, “The announcement of the Decision to Actively Restore ki?lawna? to the U.S. North Cascades Ecosystem in the U.S. marks an important moment in history for recovery efforts on both sides of the border. Restoring ki?lawna? to the North Cascades Ecosystem has involved multiple decades of work by many committed people, leading us to where we are now. From the Syilx Okanagan Nation’s perspective, our partnership with our U.S. cohorts on this work demonstrates a clear example of naqsmiʔst xə̌l tmixʷ (coming together for all living things) and that we are collectively righting a wrong and returning ki?lawna to a transboundary ecosystem that depends on their presence. This decision re-confirms our commitment to protecting ki?lawna today and for generations to come.”

The Syilx Okanagan territory is transboundary, as the North Cascades Ecosystem is transboundary, thus requires coordinated efforts on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. In 2014, the ONA Chief’s Executive Council declared ki?lawna protected across the territory and set a mandate to take action to restore and protect endangered populations, including throughout the North Cascades Ecosystem. ONA has since led recovery and stewardship planning efforts in partnership with our nations communities and neighbouring Nations, including the S’olh Temexw Stewardship Alliance, the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Bear Initiative and Conservation Northwest. We also look forward to continuing to advance collaborative efforts to prepare for Grizzly Bear recovery in the British Columbian portion of the North Cascades with the BC and Federal Governments.

For more information, please contact:
ki law’na, Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair

Councilor, Jordan Coble, ONA NRC Chair
T: 1-250-498-9132 T: 1-250-300-5673

Cailyn Glasser, ONA Natural Resource Manager
T: 1-250-469-1595

ONA Grizzly Bear Backgrounder
FAQ 2024 Northern Cascades Grizzly Bear

Other Related Links: 

ONA Previous News Story Links












Record of Decision Links

Grizzly Bear Restoration Record of Decision Signed

ParkPlanning – Joint Record of Decision (nps.gov)

US News Release

Agencies announce decision to restore grizzly bears to North Cascades – North Cascades National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

10j Rule

The final 10(j) rule will be available in the Federal Register and at https://www.regulations.gov/ in the coming days (reference Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2023-0074).

US GB Project Page


EIS Page