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


Caught Pike?

April 18th, 2024

Northern Pike Pose a Significant Threat to the Columbia River Fisheries

Enter to Claim for $200, $100 or $50 Prizes


They prey on native and important game species, introduce parasites and disease, and compete with other species for food resources.


Help keep their numbers low by participating in the Northern Pike Bounty Program. Receive entrance to a $200 Canadian Tire gift certificate reward for every Northern Pike submitted. Prizes of $100 and $50 are also available.


Participation in this program will require catch information including the Date, Photo with Location (nearest known landmark), alongside the submitted Head, Length and Weight (optional) to the Castlegar office.


Castlegar Okanagan Nation Alliance Office
Open: 8am-4pm Mon-Fri
Address: 875 Columbia Ave. Castlegar, BC
Phone: 250 707 0095

For more information, contact:

Ross Zeleznik, Northern Pike Bounty Program Coordinator Okanagan Nation Alliance, Castlegar Office Phone: 250-687-0340 Email: rzeleznik@syilx.org

Pike Incentive Poster

Restoration of kiɁlawnaɁ (Grizzly Bear) to the US North Cascades Ecosystem

October 6th, 2023

Syilx Okanagan Nation Commend the Biden Administration for release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to Restore kiɁlawnaɁ (Grizzly Bear) to the US North Cascades Ecosystem

It is with much anticipation and hope, of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, that with the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to restore kiɁlawnaɁ to the North Cascades that we will be able to collaborate and move forward to restore grizzly bear populations to this transboundary ecosystem together. We acknowledge the work of the US Department of Interior, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US National Park Service to launch a public review of this statement which outlines the options for restoration.

kiɁlawnaɁ has been an integral part of Syilx culture and an important indicator of the health and well-being of the land and Syilx people, since time immemorial. “Only within the last 150 years have kiɁlawnaɁ been absent from the North Cascades landscape- a result of persecution and overhunting by settlers. Much like our people, the tmixʷ (all living things) are resilient. The kiɁlawnaɁ, is a part of who we are, our nation has worked tirelessly to restore salmon, and now we continue the journey to bring kiɁlawnaɁ home to the North Cascades,” stated Chief Clarence Louie, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) Tribal Chairman.

In 2014, the Syilx Nation declared kiɁlawnaɁ protected across Syilx Territory, and mandated the ONA to take action to restore and protect endangered populations, including the North Cascades. ONA has since led recovery and stewardship planning efforts, in partnership with neighbouring Nations, the BC Ministries of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship and Forests, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and supporting ENGOs. Just as the Syilx Okanagan Territory is transboundary, the North Cascades is a transboundary population and thus requires coordinated efforts on both sides of the Canada-US border. In the fall of 2022, the Syilx Okanagan Nation called on the US Government to relaunch the recovery planning efforts in the US portion of the North Cascades. It is with great pleasure that we learn of this relaunch of the EIS, and re-confirm our commitment to bringing kiɁlawnaɁ  home to the North Cascades.

Syilx Nation Natural Resources Chair, Jordan Coble also added, “The announcement of the EIS review process in the US marks an important moment in time for recovery efforts on both sides of the border. Many decades of work, by many committed people have led us to where we are now. From the Syilx Nation’s perspective, our partnership with BC on this work is a demonstration of implementing DRIPA in its’ purest form- we are collectively righting a wrong, and returning kiɁlawnaɁ to an ecosystem that depends on their presence.”

We look forward to continued work with our many BC and US partners to restore and protect grizzly bears in the North Cascades. Through the Joint Nations Grizzly Bear Initiative we continue to advance work towards restoration of the North Cascades population in many ways, including the development of a Stewardship Strategy which contains the necessary steps to advance recovery, as per the BC Auditor General’s 2017 recommendations and referenced in BC’s Provincial grizzly bear strategy.

The ONA is committed to conserve, manage, co-manage the wildlife, lands and waters of the Nation’s territory. In doing so, the Nation will be true to its spiritual and environmental values, mindful of the cultural and social needs and aspirations of its individual bands, and strong in its assertion of the Nation’s rights and title to its entire area of occupancy and use.

For more information please contact:
ki law na (Chief Clarence Louie), ONA Tribal Chair                    Cailyn Glasser, ONA Natural Resource Manager
T:  1-250-498-9132                                                                          T: 1-250-469-1595

Media Release: Restoration of kiɁlawnaɁ (Grizzly Bear) to the US North Cascades Ecosystem

2023 Syilx Siya Awards For High School Graduates of 2022/2023 Recipients!

August 23rd, 2023

Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2023 Syilx Siya Awards For High School Graduates of 2022/2023
The Syilx Siya Bursary is awarded to 3 Syilx Okanagan high school graduates who have demonstrated a willingness to dream big for themselves, their Nation, their community, and/or their family. Award recipients will have educational goals and the drive to make them happen!
Thank you to EMB who sponsored two of the awards and Hi Traxx Contracting and Lance McLean who together sponsored the third award.

Okanagan Lake (Penticton Dam) PIT Array Installation

August 4th, 2023

The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is installing a Passive Integrated Technology (PIT) antenna array, contributing to the network of four current mainstem Okanagan River arrays and four tributary arrays within the Canadian portion of the Okanagan Valley. These arrays provide invaluable data to fisheries and resource managers regarding the migrations of anadromous salmonids (Sockeye, Chinook, Steelhead, etc). This expansion ONA’s Pit Detection Network will monitor the reintroduction of Sockeye to Okanagan Lake. The installation consists of two fishway antennas and one instream array.

  • PIT arrays are submerged antennas fastened to the river bottom, which span the width of river
  • Fish swim over the antennas as they migrate; fish containing PIT tags are scanned by the antennas
  • Several thousand fish are tagged annually, within the Okanagan and throughout the northwest USA
  • Release and detection data is uploaded to online PTAGIS database, enabling the migration and life history of individual fish to be tracked
  • ONA tags approximately 10,000 Sockeye smolts annually, in addition to 500+ Steelhead/Rainbow trout, and occasionally ONA hatchery raised Chinook salmon
  • Tagging and the PIT array network potentially enables fish to be tracked from their stream/lake of origin to the Pacific Ocean and back, and can help answer questions on run timing, life history, and population
  • A Qualified Environmental Professional will always be on-site during the project and every effort is taken to ensure there is little disturbance to the habitat, environment and water quality.

WORKS: The installation consists of two fishway antennas and one instream array. Works will consist of the installation of a pit array across the 30m width of Okanagan River, 70m downstream from Okanagan Lake/Penticton Dam in Penticton, BC. The design will consist of four (4) – 1m x 6m x 15cm diameter and two (2) – 1m x 6m x 15cm diameter HDPE antennas. Each antenna will be anchored with duckbill anchors attached to cam straps. Installation will require minor displacement of local streambed materials to install the antennas flush with the existing riverbed. A trench will be dug next to the walking trail for electrical conduit.

PROJECT TEAM: All work will be conducted by ONA fisheries biologists and technicians, along with Biomark, who manufactured the technology, provides technical support and will be on-site to oversee installation

Project Manager/Field Lead: Carley Simpson, ONA Fisheries Biologist
Email: csimpson@syilx.org Phone: 250-707-0095 ext: 311 (contact for questions)
Field Staff: ONA: Seth Kruger, Dave Tom, Isaac Jack; Biomark Staff: Gaelan Flaherty, Peter Mackinnon

Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Grant Public Utility District, and Chelan Public Utility District

2023 FAQ – Okanagan Dam PIT Array

Historic Electricity Purchase Agreement Signed with BC Hydro to Fulfil 2011 Commitment in ILM Final Agreement

June 26th, 2023

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Upper Nicola Band (UNB) are proud to announce the signing of an Electricity Purchase Agreement (EPA) with BC Hydro. Under the terms of the EPA, the UNB and ONA have jointly developed a groundbreaking 15MWac solar project located on Upper Nicola Band’s Nicola Lake IR No.1, situated 30km northeast of Merritt and in close proximity to the BC Hydro Nicola substation.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation’s traditional territories and in particular the lands of Upper Nicola Band is an energy corridor in British Columbia. For this reason, the Syilx Okanagan leadership has committed to create opportunities for Syilx communities to develop and own energy projects that benefit members. This landmark agreement is a significant step towards the development of future sustainable energy projects on Syilx Okanagan territory. The EPA was committed to under the Interior Lower Mainland Final Agreement, which was reached between UNB, ONA and BCH in 2011.

This solar project will interconnect to the BC Hydro distribution system, further bolstering the region’s renewable energy capacity. It is set to be the largest, over 100 acres, solar plant in British Columbia, showcasing the commitment of both the ONA and UNB to sustainable energy development. This ambitious endeavor will not only contribute to the province’s cleaner energy goals but also generate economic opportunities and job creation for local communities.

Chief Dan Manuel, Upper Nicola Band, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, stating, “We are excited to bring this historic solar project into reality after many years of project development and negotiation with BC Hydro. It is a testament to our shared commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable development. Together, we are paving the way for a greener future while creating economic benefits for our people. As we move toward net-zero emissions globally it is projects like this that set the foundation for meaningful participation of indigenous communities”

“The signing of this Electricity Purchase Agreement marks a significant milestone for the Syilx Okanagan Nation. We are proud to be at the forefront of renewable energy initiatives, and this solar project exemplifies our dedication to self-sufficiency and the well-being of all Syilx communities,” Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair, stated.

“The signing of this Electricity Purchase Agreement is a testament to the continued vision, collaboration, and perseverance of Syilx Okanagan leadership. As a momentous endeavor, this signing illustrates how Syilx leaders are committed to the principles of sustainability, economic development, and the empowerment for Syilx Okanagan people throughout the territory,” Chief Robert Louie, Westbank First Nation, added.


ONA is one of 81 known Tribal Councils in Canada that currently operates within the parameters of the 1984 Cabinet approved policy that established the principles and the conditions for funding Tribal Councils. The ONA mandate is to work collectively to advance and assert Syilx Okanagan Nation Title and Rights over the Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory.

For more information, please contact:

Chief Daniel Manuel, Upper Nicola Band

T: 250-378-1986

Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair

T: 250-498-9132

Chief Robert Louie, CEC, Energy Executive Chair

T: 250-300-9899

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead

T: 250-862-6866
E: TMontgomery@syilx.org

Media Release

Agreements address Columbia River Treaty impacts on Indigenous Nations

June 9th, 2023

The Ktunaxa, Secwépemc and Syilx Okanagan Nations and their members will benefit from new interim agreements that share revenue generated from the Columbia River Treaty.

Read Full Article Here

Through the three separate interim agreements, the Ktunaxa Nation, Secwépemc Nation and Syilx Okanagan Nation will each receive 5% of the revenue generated through the sale of Canada’s share of downstream power benefits under the treaty, otherwise known as the Canadian Entitlement. The proposed interim agreements will share this revenue over four years.

“This interim agreement is significant for us,” said Kathryn Teneese, Chair of Ktunaxa Nation Council. “It’s an acknowledgment of impacts to Ktunaxa rights and title, and is one step on the path of reconciliation. Ktunaxa Nation Council, on behalf of our four member First Nations, will continue our broader collaborative work on Columbia River Treaty renewal with the other partners in this agreement. Ktunaxa perspectives are vital to this treaty process, and we value being at the table with the other Indigenous Nations, along with British Columbia and Canada.”

ki law na Chief Clarence Louie, Okanagan Nation Alliance Tribal Chair, said: “This Interim Revenue Sharing Agreement is a historic first step for our government-to-government relationship. For far too long, we have been excluded from decisions that directly impact the Syilx Nation. These previous decisions lacked any form of consent and often left us with only devastating impacts. With this announcement, the provincial government has demonstrated a level of integrity to finally do the right thing. In part, this is the result of continued efforts by the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Chief Executive Council, who have asserted the need to be involved in establishing a new Columbia River Treaty. Alongside our First Nation neighbours in the Columbia River watershed — the Secwépemc Nation and Ktunaxa Nation — we are beginning a long journey of righting the historical wrongs of the past injustices with the Crown on decision-making, revenue sharing, ecosystems and Indigenous cultural values. This is only the beginning, yet we remain confident that the principles of collaboration and partnership central to these government relations will continue to create the change we all desire for our lands and waterways.”

Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir, Tribal Chief, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, said: “On behalf of the Secwépemc Nation, I am pleased to confirm a shared commitment resulting from the continued negotiations concerning the ongoing environmental and cultural impacts from the Columbia River Treaty. The negotiations thus far resulted in Interim Revenue Sharing Agreements between the Secwépemc, Syilx Okanagan and Ktunaxa Nations and the Province of British Columbia. These agreements represent the first time that the three Indigenous Nations within British Columbia are receiving benefits from the Columbia River Treaty dams. The dams have caused devastation to our lands and resources, and continue to impact our title and rights. We share a commitment to reconciliation while upholding the foundation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We look forward to our continued engagement, shared decision-making and co-operation as we move forward together in a way that we can all be proud of.”

The treaty was ratified in 1964 by the U.S. and Canada to provide flood control and generate additional hydro power, but was negotiated without considering the impacts it would have on the rights, culture, economies and ways of life of the Indigenous Nations. For decades, the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc and Syilx Okanagan Nations and their members have been severely affected by the construction of treaty dams and reservoirs, changes to river flows, ecosystem and cultural losses, and the related impacts to their economies. Negotiations will continue with the Secwépemc, Syilx Okanagan and Ktunaxa Nations for a long-term agreement to help address environmental, cultural and economic impacts caused by the operations of the Columbia River Treaty.

“When the Columbia River Treaty was developed, governments didn’t consult or co-operate with First Nations or any Columbia Basin residents – the very people whose lives, livelihoods and cultures would be affected for decades,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for the Columbia River Treaty. “Since 2018, Indigenous Nations with territory in the Columbia Basin have worked closely with Canada and B.C. to negotiate a modernized treaty with the U.S.; today, they are at last sharing in the benefits the treaty brings.”

Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, said: “The announcement today reflects our government’s action toward building relationships with First Nations that recognize, respect and support their right to self-determination. These agreements ensure Nations benefit from Columbia River Treaty revenues and support a new way of seeking First Nations’ free, prior and informed consent on a modernized Columbia River Treaty.”

Since 2018, Canada and the United States have been engaged in negotiations to modernize the treaty. The Ktunaxa, Secwépemc and Syilx Okanagan Nations have been an essential part of the Canadian negotiating team, alongside the governments of Canada and B.C.

The Nations have also led efforts to enhance ecosystem function and investigate the feasibility of restoring salmon to the B.C. portion of the Columbia Basin through the treaty-modernization negotiations.

Quick Facts:

  • The Columbia River Treaty is a trans-boundary water management agreement between Canada and the United States, ratified in 1964, that vastly reduces the risk of floods and provides clean energy to millions of households in British Columbia and the United States.
  • Revenue from the treaty goes to the Provincial Consolidated Revenue Fund and has contributed to funding of government functions, such as health care, education and infrastructure.
  • The treaty dams and reservoirs flooded 110,000 hectares (270,000 acres) of Canadian ecosystems, displaced more than 2,000 residents, as well as First Nations, communities and infrastructure, and affected farms, tourism and forestry activities.
  • Since May 2018, negotiators for Canada (including B.C.) and the United States have been meeting to discuss what a modernized version of the Columbia River Treaty could look like.
  • During that time, representatives of the Ktunaxa, Secwépemc and Syilx Okanagan Nations have worked hand in hand with the governments of Canada and B.C. to develop and refine negotiating positions, strategies and proposals.

Learn More:

To learn more about the Columbia River Treaty, visit:

To keep up with the latest Columbia River Treaty news, sign up for the newsletter at: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty/sign-up/
or follow the CRT on Facebook (@ColumbiaRiverTreaty) or Twitter (@CRTreaty).

To share views on the treaty, email: columbiarivertreaty@gov.bc.ca
or write to:
Columbia River Treaty Team
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
PO Box 9314 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9N1

Syilx Okanagan Nation Extend Range of Salmon Reintroduction Efforts on kłusxnitkw Tributaries, Including Lower Vernon Creek

May 8th, 2023

What: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) are honoured to announce that our efforts on reintroducing sc’win (Okanagan sockeye salmon) on Syilx territory will extend to multiple other tributaries that feed into kłusxnitkw (Okanagan Lake) over the 2023 season. This work is a continuation of the Syilx Nation commitment to our responsibilities of restoring and reintroducing back into the traditional water ways of sc’win. This will include the importance of the sc’win imprint 300,000 sc’win fry at Head-of-the-Lake, including Lower Vernon Creek. The ONA Fisheries Department works in collaboration with the Okanagan Nation member communities including Okanagan Indian Band and other organizations to reintroduction of sc’win to their once natural run. These are part of the nearly four million fry that will be released by ONA in the Okanagan sub-basin during the 2023 season.

Where: Marshall Field Dog Park, 6891 Okanagan Landing Road, Vernon, BC

When: 10:00 am, May 9, 2023

Why: Due to a large run in 2022 the ONA will be undertaking this year one of the largest sockeye fry releases. We are excited to release roughly 4.9 million sockeye fry in the territory with four million of the total into tributaries that feed into kłusxnitkw (Okanagan Lake). Out of those four million almost two million will be released in Mission Creek. This year we have reached a huge goal of our kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ sockeye reintroduction initiative and will be releasing for the first time at Lower Vernon Creek. In addition to the releases in the Okanagan Basin, we will be releasing fry into the Columbia River.
These releases in the coming season are based on decades of sustained, successful effort by the Nation to re-establish sc’win populations on the territory, which contribute to both food security and cultural revitalization for Syilx people. For decades ONA has worked towards achieving salmon passage back to kłusxnitkw. Bringing salmon back to the far reaches of kłusxnitkw is a milestone of this work. The importance of returning sc’win to kłusxnitkw is heightened due to the cooler waters of the lake, that provide the species a haven in the face of climate change and warming waters, which can prevent salmon from returning and laying their eggs.

“Bringing sc’win back to creeks and streams on kłusxnitkw, like Lower Vernon Creek, are a direct result of Syilx advocacy, Self-determination, and assertion of our Syilx collective responsibilities to govern, manage and stewards our lands and resources. The success of this work is directly connected to our ability to collaborate with a variety of partners and can be seen in the historic returns of sc’win to the Columbia watershed this last year,” Chief Byron Louis (OKIB) stated.
The kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titxw (Salmon) – one of our Four Food Chiefs – to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory.

Opened in 2014, the 25,000 square foot hatchery has the capacity to rear 8 million eggs. It is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for 5 million eggs from brood stock management until fry release.

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

Chad Fuller, ONA Fisheries Manager
T: 250-707-0095 ext. 104

Media Advisory Lower Vernon Creek Release

Years of Syilx Okanagan Nation Actions Bring Awareness to the Protection of the Last Remaining styiɬcʼʔ (Caribou)

April 15th, 2023

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation acknowledge recent actions taken by the BC Government and Parks Canada to relocate the last remaining styiɬcʼʔ from the Columbia South herd to the Central Selkirks maternity pen. For years Syilx Okanagan Nation leadership has prioritized the protection of styiɬcʼʔ as a critical part of Syilx Okanagan Title, Rights and interests.

Since 1995 the Columbia South subpopulation of styiɬcʼʔ declined precipitously to a lone female. The decline of this subpopulation was ultimately due to ongoing habitat loss in the herd area. We emphasize that the urgent decision to move this last caribou and extirpate the Columbia South caribou has been difficult and caused a sense of grief for Syilx Okanagan people.

“styiɬcʼʔ has been an integral and critical part of Syilx culture since time immemorial. Since colonization Syilx Okanagan people have witnessed the continued depletion of our relative and their home. In the face of such losses, we continue to assert, as we have in the past, that it is our responsibility to collectively and cooperatively recover styiɬcʼʔ (caribou), if they are to remain on the landscape. The Syilx Okanagan Nation leadership alongside other First Nation governments have been responding to declining caribou populations by leading with direction and advice from our Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers, and experts remain committed to doing what it takes to ensure the best outcomes for our relative,” stated ki?lawna (Chief Clarence Louie), ONA Tribal Chair.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation acknowledges the work of multiple First Nations to bring attention to the protection of the last remaining styiɬcʼʔ and will continue to work and collaborate with our neighbors to ensure that styiɬcʼʔ (caribou) is recovered and protected for the generations to come.

Since 2021 a collaborative process guided by Revelstoke Complex and Central Selkirks Caribou Technical Working Group (RCCSCTWG) technical advisors led to a collective decision to translocate this lone female caribou. This partnership consists of representatives from several First Nations governments including the Syilx Okanagan Nation, Ktunaxa Nation Council, Simpcw First Nation, Splatsin, Shuswap, Adams Lake Indian Band, Skwláx te Secwepemc (formerly Little Shuswap Lake Band) alongside the Province of BC and Government of Canada. The RCCSCTWG provides a collaborative space where recommendations to support styiɬcʼʔ (caribou) can be developed together. The RCCSCTWG spent many hours in order to collectively arrive at the recommendation to support the translocation of the last lone female South Columbia styiɬcʼʔ (caribou).

“The decision to translocate the last remaining styiɬcʼʔ (caribou) from the South Columbia herd required collaboration on a difficult decision. The decision was made with the best knowledge and expertise available to us, with the aim of increasing her likelihood of survival, breeding and calf retention, so that she may contribute over the long term to recovery, and ultimately, eventually, re-establishment of the South Columbia herd. Our success is dependent on collaboration, and to commit to breaking down systemic barriers to shared decision making. Ultimately, if we put styiɬcʼʔ (caribou) in the center of the discussion, we will create solutions that will lead to recovery, and persistence on the landscape- but we must harness all of the information, knowledge, and capacity we can”, Cailyn Glasser, ONA Natural Resource Manager stated.

styiɬcʼʔ (caribou) ceremonies have been undertaken by Syilx Nation members and other Nations for many years.  We continue to follow our ancestral teachings taught to us as Syilx people. We believe in the sacred connection and care of our tmixw and all peoples for the health and well-being of tmulxwlax shared by Elders like calyx (Richard Armstrong).


The Okanagan Nation Alliance is committed to conserve, manage, co-manage the wildlife, lands and waters of the Nation’s territory. In doing so, the Nation will be true to its spiritual and environmental values, mindful of the cultural and social needs and aspirations of its individual bands, and strong in its assertion of the Nation’s rights and title to its entire area of occupancy and use.

For more information please contact:
ki?lawna (Chief Clarence Louie), ONA Tribal Chair
T:  1-250-498-9132

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

Media Release

Calling All Anglers To Report Catching Northern Pike In The Columbia River

April 13th, 2023

snɬuxwqnm (Castlegar), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is calling all anglers to support suppression efforts of Northern Pike. We request that all anglers catching Northern Pike in the nx̌ʷntk’ʷitkʷ (Columbia River), including the Pend d’Oreille, Kootenay, Columbia and Kettle Rivers report these catches to Ross Zeleznik, ONA Fisheries Biologist, Castlegar Office Phone: 250-687-0340 Email: rzeleznik@syilx.org

Northern Pike prey on native and important game species, introduce parasites and disease, and compete with other species for food resources. Help keep their numbers low by participating in the Northern Pike Bounty Program and receive entrance to a $200 Canadian Tire gift certificate reward for every Northern Pike submitted. Participation in this program will require catch information including the date and location (nearest known landmark) alongside a photo of the catch and the submitted head only to participating locations.

For More Info: Northern Pike Suppression

Osoyoos Indian Band Historic Reserve Celebration

April 13th, 2023

An invitation goes out to all Syilx Nation members to gather and celebrate the purchase of this important cultural and salmon fishing site that was previously taken from us.

The celebration will take place on April 14 at 11:30 am at 5444 Hawthorne Place, Okanagan Falls. Because of the cultural and historic significance of this site, a women’s sweat will be held on Wednesday night (April 12) and men’s sweat on Thursday night (April 13) starting at 6:30 pm at 5444 Hawthorne Place, OK Falls.

For more info: OIB Historic Reserve Celebration

yilíkʷlxkn (Bighorn Sheep) Diseases

March 29th, 2023

yilíkʷlxkn in the southern Okanagan region have been experiencing a steady population decline. This decline is theorized to be due in part to infection by pneumonia or Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi), psoroptes (Psoroptes cuniculi) mites and Bluetongue contributing to overall poor yilíkʷlxkn health. The widespread reduction of available and suitable ranges, and increased human pressure have also been identified as compounding factors to their decline.

To learn more about the diseases affecting our yilíkʷlxkn: yilíkʷlxkn (Bighorn Sheep) Diseases

Help Us Continue Monitoring: 

  1. Collared bighorn ewes with lambs at heel: Any photos of collared ewes/lambs and any identifiers such as number tags, location, and time.
  2. Coughing or sick mountain goats and yilíkʷlxkn: Clinical signs of sick sheep may include coughing, runny nose, laboured breathing, and lethargic behaviour.
  3. Crusty, scabs or poor coat condition animals: Any sick-appearing mountain goats, yilíkʷlxkn, feral horses, rabbits, or hares should be immediately reported.

Please send in all sightings you think may be important to:
Mackenzie Clarke, tmixʷ Biologist
mclarke@syilx.org or 250-681-0131

ONA ‘Fish in Schools’ Program Celebrates 20 Year Anniversary

January 17th, 2023

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: This last week the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) celebrated the 20th year of the Fish in Schools (FinS) program by delivering a final round of the fish tanks and equipment to 50 schools and institutions throughout Syilx territory. Over the last 20 years the program has rippled out to Band, Public, Private schools throughout Syilx territory, impacting and educating thousands of students.

FinS is a comprehensive fish education program for elementary to secondary students, with a focus on sc’win (sockeye salmon), their lifecycle and the importance of their ecosystems. By creating greater educational and community awareness of fish species with students of different ages, the intent is for students to become future leaders, land protectors, water managers, scientists and the multitude of environmental and social sciences professions that are available for them. In the Columbia, this program further cultivates awareness of salmon’s historical runs from the ocean, up the One River – the Columbia and upstream in the northern Canada portion of the Upper Columbia to the Kettle River, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenay Rivers, including other tributaries of the Salmo and Slocan Rivers and beyond.

As a key highlight from this year, the FinS program has nearly doubled its participation in the Columbia from last year, with 27 participant institutions in five school districts in the Upper Columbia. This upscaling is part of our broader commitments to ensure that salmon are brought back to all parts of Syilx territory, providing food and nutrients not only to people, but also contributing to the health of all creatures and ecosystems.

“This past year saw a historic return of sc’win to the Columbia basin (which includes the Okanagan subbasin), which only further illustrates the importance and success of such programs as FinS. It is part of the broader salmon restoration goals by the Syilx Okanagan Nation to bring salmon back to their original range. It exhibits how the Nation continues to uphold our sacred responsibilities — efforts that includes numerous ceremonies, ensuring salmon habitat is stewarded in the most innovative ways possible and respecting our ancestor, our Elders, our traditional knowledge keepers, and their teachings” stated Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair.

The FinS program continues to be highly successful and popular, with far more requests for participation than we can keep pace with. The program allows students to directly participate in rearing sc’win eggs, raising the hatched fry in the classroom, and releasing the sc’win into the rivers. Seeing their life cycles firsthand, they can have a direct contribution and connection to salmon reintroduction efforts and hopefully will see the fish come back in the coming years. The program also offers educators scientific and cultural resources that enrich students’ understandings of the importance of this species, for the ecosystem and Syilx people. As such, with the growing requests by Schools, ONA requires new strategic approaches and funding opportunities to ensure the program spreads and thrives”, Chad Fuller, ONA Fisheries Manager stated.

Egg delivery to FinS participant schools has taken place over the first half of January 2023, with over 5000 eggs being sent out to schools and other institutions. Upon successfully raising the fry, students will include their fry in ceremonial releases taking place throughout the Syilx territory in May, 2023.


The Fish in Schools program run successfully since 2003 in the Okanagan region and contributes to the kł cp̓əlk stim̓ Hatchery’s fry release efforts. The kł cp̓əlk stim̓ Hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the salmon – one of our Four Food Chiefs – to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory.

For More Information Contact:

Chad Fuller, ONA Fisheries Manager
Tel: (250) 707-0095 ext. 104

Michael Zimmer, ONA Fisheries Biologist (Columbia Region)
Tel: (250) 304-7341

Media Release

Sockeye Run Makes Historic Returns to Tributaries on kłusxnitkw (Okanagan Lake)

October 31st, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) are honoured to announce the return of sc’win (Sockeye Salmon) back to many of the tributaries that feed into kłusxnitkw over the 2022 season. Since 2019 ONA has worked to achieve salmon passage at Okanagan Dam in Penticton. The importance of returning sc’win to kłusxnitkw is heightened due to the cooler waters of the lake, that provide the species a haven in the face of climate change and warming waters, which can prevent salmon from returning and laying their eggs.

sc’win have now been observed spawning in Penticton Creek, Trout Creek, Peachland Creek, Trepanier Creek, Powers Creek, Mission Creek, Whiteman Creek and Equesis Creek, with individual counts ranging from just a few to over 1,000. One location where the success of these returns has been recently recorded is on Trout Creek, near Summerland. This creek has seen over 400 Sockeye return to lay their eggs. The success of this return is the result of a multi-pronged effort by ONA to ensure the tributary was prepared to have fish come back, and has included marine nutrient loading, which involves placing salmon carcasses from our broodstock work [click here to learn more] back into waterways to encourage salmon to locate the waterway in the future. ONA has also recently reinstalled riffles (shallow rapids) in the channelized creek to oxygenate the water and provide spawning habitat, while engaging traditional knowledge keepers to provide ceremony and cultural protocols to the work. This has been done alongside consistent salmon fry releases into the creeks in the spring that allow the salmon to imprint on the location and know where to return.

“The return of sc’win back to these creeks and streams on kłusxnitkw are not simply a success story of salmon returning, but year of our Syilx advocacy and persistence and resistance to assert our leadership and responsibilities to govern, manage and stewards our lands and resources including our sacred food Chief sc’win(nytikxw). So this return is illustrative of a much broader picture of ensuring Syilx title and rights but our responsibilities to indigenous food sovereignty, our economy this region of Syilx Territory. Further, the cultural revitalization for Syilx people throughout the territory is imperative. By enacting our inherent responsibilities to the water and the timxw, we are ensuring that salmon will continue to return to feed our peoples and lands for generations to come,” Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair, stated.

The ONA are asking residents throughout the territory to please not walk through the rivers, or allow their dogs to go into these waterways, as they run the chance of destroying the salmon eggs that are located in their gravel nests in the water.


The kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titxw (Salmon) – one of our Four Food Chiefs – to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory. Opened in 2014, the 25,000 square foot hatchery has the capacity to rear 8 million eggs. It is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for 5 million eggs from brood stock management until fry release.

For information please contact:
y̓ilm] ixʷm (Chief) Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair
T: 250-498-9132

Media Release

Osoyoos Indian Band Reacts to Community Safety Unit Raid of Local Business

October 22nd, 2022

OSOYOOS, BRITISH COLUMBIA (October 21, 2022) – The Osoyoos Indian Band (“OIB”) and Okanagan Nation Alliance (“ONA”) are outraged at the conduct of the Community Safety Unit in raiding a local business without the OIB’s consent. On October 19, 2022, after previously assuring OIB’s Chief and Council that they would not enter OIB lands without the consent of the community’s leadership, investigators with the Community Safety Unit (“CSU”) entered onto OIB lands and seized inventory from a local cannabis retail business. The CSU is a law enforcement body operated by the provincial Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General that is responsible for compliance and enforcement under the BC Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.

“Osoyoos Indian Band takes its responsibility to ensure public safety in our community very seriously,” said Chief Clarence Louie, the long-standing Chief of OIB and Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Chiefs Executive Council, “but we also take seriously our sovereignty and jurisdiction over our lands. The CSU’s conduct in entering our lands without our consent after expressly advising us that they would not do so is unacceptable and undermines our efforts to work collaboratively with the provincial government. In this era of reconciliation, this is clearly not the way to build mutual trust and respect. These outdated, heavy handed government tactics of ignoring our governance role on our lands have no place in this era. Both the Prime Minister and Premier of BC have committed to Nation-to-Nation relationships with First Nations based on respect, but it is the opposite of respect for the Province to impose its authority on our reserves.”

OIB is a member of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the representative body that works to protect, defend and advance the rights and interests of the syilx Okanagan Nation. The ONA has long advocated for the recognition of the jurisdiction of its member communities and has also expressed serious concern with the conduct of the CSU in this case. The ONA is committed to supporting OIB and all the ONA’s member communities to secure recognition of their jurisdiction over their lands and communities.

Contact Information:
Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band
T:  250-498-9132

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T:  (250) 707-0095 ext 120
E: tmontgomery@syilx.org


Syilx Okanagan Nation Annual Gathering Raises Awareness About Violence and Systemic Racism Regarding Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Girls Two-Spirit+ and Kin

October 5th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: From October 5-6, 2022, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) will host the 4th Annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit+ Gathering. This event supports our Nation members to come together in solidarity, share stories and experience, and take action to ensure women, girls, two-spirit plus and kin are safe in their homes and communities. For more information on the event, including on the keynote speaker, Connie Greyeyes, please visit here.

ONA acknowledges that this Gathering takes place the day after a Sisters in Spirit Walk and Candlelight Vigil on October 4, 2022. This event also to honour and remember our MMIWG2S+, while also bringing awareness to the issues of the pervasive violence that Indigenous women, girls and two spirited plus and kin face on a daily basis.

“We Stand and Gather in solidarity with our communities and First Nation’s across Canada to end violence. Though there has been an increased recognition of the brutality that our women, girls and two-spirited plus and kin face, these issues only continue to proliferate. We see there has been a failure to address the systemic violence and impacts of colonization that persist to this day regardless of the MMIWG2S+ reports and action plans. Everything, from the deep trauma created by Indian Residential Schools and the Sixties Scoop, to the effects of structural systemic institutional racism whether in health care systems RCMP, the various bureaucracies themselves and our own communities do result in further trauma and violence. Every citizen must take this responsibility serious enough to be aware of their own role in this and specifically to read the 231 Calls to justice outlined by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girl’s final report “Reclaiming Power and Place’,” Allan Louis, ONA Health Representative, states.

Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ have seen alarmingly high rates of life threating violence and disproportionally are 3.5 times more likely to experience violence than non-aboriginal women. An estimated 4,000 Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBQT+people have went missing or been murdered between 1980-2012, with some speculating the number could be as high as 4500 to date. Though they make only 4% of the population, these atrocities are 25% of cases in Canada, highlighting the great disparity that our people continue to struggle with every day.


The ONA developed the You Empowered Strong (YES) Program to create a sustainable model of support to our families and community to begin to address the impact of family violence and sexual assault. It provides community awareness, education and training, as well as resources on de-normalizing violence and sexual assault as one of the key steps to create change and change behaviors. Using Syilx knowledge and strength-based practice to build the capacity of families and creating a strong peer network that support the wellbeing of the community.

For more information please contact:

y̓il̓mixʷm  ki law na, Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band, ONA Tribal Chair
T:  250-498-9132

Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager
T: 1-250-826-7844
E: wellness.manager@syilx.org

Media Release

Open Letter for a Public Inquiry into the Ministry of Children and Family Services following the Fraud and Thefts of Robert R. Saunders

October 3rd, 2022

We are writing this letter on behalf of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) Chief’s Executive Council (CEC) in regards to Child Protection and Resource worker Robert Riley Saunders (Saunders). Saunders had spent over a decade stealing support services funding from mostly indigenous youth in foster care with the use of a falsified Social Work degree. This travesty and other tragic cases where young children and youth have lost their lives proves that there is a serious gap and complete lack of oversight of MCFD workers.

During Saunders time as a delegated social worker (SW), the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s (MCFD) work culture excluded Saunders from accountability and oversight. MCFD workers, Team Leads, and managers refused to listen to numerous complaints regarding Saunders’ conduct by his own clients, Indigenous Band workers and community members. This corrupt work culture became the breeding ground for Saunders to steal just under half a million dollars from youth who were on his caseload, defrauding them of their food, clothing, services and shelter allowances, leaving many of them destitute, homeless and struggling to survive.

On July 25th 2022, Saunders plead guilty to 3 out of 13 charges and received a punishment of five years for fraud, two years for breach of trust, which will be served concurrently, and one month for forgery. In July 2022, the Syilx Okanagan Nation Chiefs’ Executive signed Tribal Council Resolution (TRC) 491, supporting Council demands for a public inquiry into the corrupt practice, actions and the policies of MCFD during the period Saunders worked on behalf of the Director.

Since the inception of MCFD in 1996, MCFD has had constant and specific oversight from the Children’s Commissioner, the Child and Youth Advocate, the Child and Youth Officer and more recently after the Gove Report, the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY). Presently, the Ministry continues to face challenges as those described 27 years ago in the Gove Report and 16 years ago in the Hughes Report, yet the government continues to fail to put recommendations directed toward MCFD into practice to protect our most vulnerable population. The government’s failure to carry out thousands of recommendations over the lifetime of MCFD, is resulting in harms too numerous to mention, deaths and devastation.

Presently, there is another hole in the MCFD safety net. An internal MCFD management deficit and possible staff corruption permitted Saunders unbridled ability to defraud children and youth for over 10 years. There was a responsibility for the Director of MCFD to oversee Saunders actions as a BC Public Service employee, and as Director’s under the Child Family and Community Services Act, (CFCSA) but that did not occur. See Appendix A.

As stated in the Okanagan Nation’s axá  iʔ  sccuntət iʔ tl x̌aʔxitət x̌l  iʔ  nqsil̓tət | Family Declaration, “it is our inherent right, that we are the ones to say what governs us, for what are the best interests, the good health, and the well-being of our children and people”. While these criminal acts occurred on our territory, we know this is not an isolated incident. Our Declaration is a reminder of our responsibility to care for those within our territory and a reminder to the Government of their responsibilities to act in good faith.

We are demanding a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the fraud and theft that Saunders was able to commit, a comprehensive critical MCFD review and recommendations for change to ensure undetected internal MCFD fraud does not continue to harm children and youth. We want to ensure that any and all recommendations that result from this public inquiry and comprehensive critical provincial review are implemented with the resources required to ensure long-lasting and meaningful systemic changes to the child welfare system in BC, to increase safety, and to fulfill their obligations to reconciliation with First Nations and all Indigenous guests within the province.

Please contact ONA Executive Director, Pauline Terbasket via email at Director@syilx.org or by telephone at 250-707-0095 ext. 214 to arrange our next steps forward together.



Appendix A

According to Court Documents, the Director:

The Director failed to adequately supervise, restrict, review and restrain Saunders. The Director failed to implement adequate systems, restraints and controls to detect and prevent Saunders’ misappropriation of funds and benefits. The Director failed to conduct reviews of Saunders’ files to detect whether Saunders was carrying out his duties appropriately and in accordance with the best interests of children, youth and families under his care. The Director delegated parental control to Saunders.

Saunders’ team lead did not hold the weekly and monthly consultation with Saunders as required by policy and/or failed to ascertain whether the children assigned to Saunders received appropriate care and failed to ascertain their level of well-being. As well, a manager did not properly supervise Saunders’ team lead, the Executive Director (ED) did not properly supervise the manager, and the supervisors in Victoria did not properly supervise the ED.

The Director was aware of previous instances of Saunders’ misconduct but failed to implement adequate supervision and controls that would have detected Saunders’ misconduct in a timely fashion. The Director’s failure to detect, supervise, restrict, review and restrain Saunders has resulted in harm to the many Indigenous youth and their families.

The Director failed to move expeditiously to review and restrain Saunders and failed to advise the Plaintiff in a timely fashion or notify the class members once Fraud was detected.

Open Letter


Syilx Okanagan Nation Demand Justice on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

September 29th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: On September 30, 2022, starting at 10 am, the Syilx Okanagan Nation will host a 5 kilometer “Walk for the Children”. This takes place on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, the walk will go from the Penticton Peach at Okanagan Lake and move to the Syilx Indian Residential School Nation’s monument on En’owkin Trail. This event is open to anyone who wants to participate. As part of an ongoing commitment to cultivate support for the Syilx victims of Indian Residential Schools this walk is meant to raise awareness throughout the general public about the ongoing trauma and devastation that Syilx people face as a result of Indian Residential Schools, while demonstrating our collective support for victims and their families.

Actions like these take place while the Government of Canada has again gone back on their commitment for either truth and reconciliation, this time “forever discharging” the Catholic church from having to raise the $25 million that they had initially promised to Indian Residential School survivors across Canada. Such disturbing acts highlight the hollow promises and empty commitments of the federal government when it comes to honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

“The Province of BC and Government of Canada continue to use the term “Truth and Reconciliation” as a means for political gain, because it makes them look good. On the ground, we continue to fight and are challenged every day with their colonial bureaucracy and legislation that have profound impacts on our daily lives. All Canadians must hold their government to task and ensure that paths toward both truth and reconciliation take place in a meaningful and lasting manner. This goes far beyond wearing an orange shirt for a day, but requires consistent direct action. It includes everything from accessible health and wellness services to providing long-term, secure funding to support language and culture revitalization in ways that are clear of bureaucratic tape and provided directly to the people that deserve these services,” y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Greg Gabriel stated.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation remain committed to standing united and demand justice for the thousands of children who never returned from Indian Residential Schools. As part of this commitment, we support the Syilx Indian Residential School Committee in their ongoing efforts to collectively support each other through bringing these traumas to light.


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/

For more information please contact:

y̓il̓mixʷm sil-teekin, Chief Greg Gabriel, Penticton Indian Band, Syilx Child & Family Governance Representative
T: 250-490-7250

y̓il̓mixʷm  ki law na, Chief Clarence Louie, Osoyoos Indian Band, ONA Tribal Chair
T:  250-498-9132

Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager
T: 1-250-826-7844
E: wellness.manager@syilx.org

Media Release

Syilx Okanagan Nation’s Salmon Feast Celebrates the Sacredness of the River at Traditional Fishing Camp sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitk

September 16th, 2022

sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ, Syilx Okanagan Territory: From September 16-18, 2022, Elders, Traditional Knowledge Keepers, youth and community members from across the Syilx Okanagan Nation will gather at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (Okanagan Falls), a culturally significant site that was formally a part of the Osoyoos Indian Reserve, to take part in the annual Salmon Feast. This year’s gathering is particularly significant due to the historic runs of sc’win that are taking place this year on Syilx territory, and the opportunities to express the gratitude for the salmons return.

One of the Nation’s goals is to further the responsibilities and teachings to be keepers of our waters, territory, lands, foods, and resources. This knowledge has been passed on by our ancestors and Elders, who have always taught the importance of preserving and revitalizing the traditions, customs, and language of the Syilx people. Central to the Salmon Feast is honouring the sacredness of the river at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (Okanagan Falls), an important traditional fishing camp, gathering place and trading site. The Salmon Feast involves multiple events and activities including, educational activities, a stick game tournament, local artisans showcasing their work, a canoe paddle where nation members are able to also pray on the water, and on Sunday a salmon feast and ceremony for snx̌aʔiwləm  (to honour the sacredness of the river).

“The historic return of salmon to Syilx territory that took place this year demonstrates how significant and important Syilx cultural gatherings like the Salmon Feast are for our people. By enacting our inherent responsibilities to the water and the timxw, we are ensuring that salmon will continue to return to feed our peoples and lands for generations to come. These salmon returns are not only an integral part of our culture but are also central to our food sovereignty and the capacity of our communities to be able to provide for themselves, “stated Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair.

It is vitally important that we honour the salmon so they will always come back to feed the people.


The Salmon Feast is a traditional annual gathering that connects to the ongoing organized efforts of the Okanagan Nation Alliance to raise awareness around the importance of the habitat protection and rehabilitation of local ecosystems, watersheds, alongside promoting a renewed connection and relationship between all residents of the Region with water and fish.


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

Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications
T: 1.250.707.0095 ext. 120
C: 250.862.6866
E: tmontgomery@syilx.org

Media Release

Okanagan Nation Alliance Aim to Destigmatize the Drug Overdose Epidemic with the Purple Ribbon Campaign

August 29th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: From August 29-30, 2022, the Syilx Okanagan Nation will host the ‘Purple Ribbon Campaign Caravan” as part of our efforts to support Nation members and families facing addiction issues and promote International Overdose Awareness Day. In particular, it is a response to the urgent need to address the stigma that surrounds drug use. We must address the stigma that surrounds drug use and overdose, while simultaneously increasing culturally appropriate supports and services to decrease the violence and disruption that our communities face.

The Caravan will travel throughout Syilx Nation communities, bringing hundreds of people together, and will focus on sharing resources, promoting discussion, and offering information related to the drug and opioid crisis. Through raising awareness, the campaign supports good health and well-being and fostering positive social change.

“As Syilx People we continue to face an overdose emergency, with First Nations people five times more likely to experience an overdose throughout the Province of BC — despite being 2.6% of the population, Indigenous people make up 10% of overdose cases. These inequalities have their roots in intergenerational trauma which continue to resound throughout Indigenous communities to this day. This action, such as the Purple Ribbon Caravan provide the opportunity for us to unite as a people and move forward together” stated Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manger.

Alan Louis. ONA Syilx Okanagan Nation representatives stated that “The drug and opioid crisis continues to underscore the facts that social determinants of health are all linked to extreme poverty, economic disparity, poor health conditions, lack of accessible housing and are rooted in a history of colonization that resulted in the displacement of Indigenous peoples. These complex issues require holistic comprehensive response’s” adding, “we must also invest in culturally safe harm-reduction, treatment and recovery services that address the pernicious effects of discrimination and racism.”

The importance of this year’s Caravan is heightened due to the deepening impacts of a multitude of crises that continue to challenge the mental health and overall well-being of all Indigeneous people. From the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings of the 215+ at Kamloops Indian Residential School, and the devastation and disturbances created by natural disasters like wildfires and floods, our communities and members are dealing with unprecedented disruptions and trauma.

“It continues to deeply alarm me how the overdose crisis impacts our families and communities. We must come together even more to break down the stigma, reduce the fear, and shame that keep people silent, but more so as society at large seek solutions and reduce harm within our communities,” Allan Louis, Syilx Health Representative, affirms.

It is important for anyone facing these issues to know that you are not alone, and that there are resources and supports available to see you through challenging times. For more resources visit: www.syilx.org/wellness/our-programs-and-services/purple-ribbon-campaign/

ONA joins and recognizes Purple Ribbon Day – and all the efforts globally – that provide a deeper recognition to the issue of drug addiction and overdoses, alongside all of the victims of the current opioid emergency. Efforts like the Purple Ribbon Campaign Caravan are part of a broader range of programs and activities, including the Nation Drug Forum, that the Nation takes on to actively address the current opioid crisis that is devastating communities throughout the territory.

For further information please contact:
Jennifer Lewis, ONA Wellness Manager
T: 1-250-826-7844
E: wellness.manager@syilx.org

Alan Louis
ONA CEC Syilx Nation Health Representative
T: 1-250-308-6789

Media Release

Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Co-Publication Wins 2021 Mercer Patriarche Best Paper in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management

August 24th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance is honoured to announce that their co-authored publication “Age-Structured Interactions among Reintroduced Sockeye Salmon, Resident Kokanee, Invasive Mysids, and their Zooplankton Prey in Skaha Lake, British Columbia” was selected by the American Fisheries Society as the best publication for 2021 in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management. The primary authors are the late Dr. Kim Hyatt, former Head of Salmon in Regional Ecosystems Program, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Dr. Don McQueen, Professor Emeritus of Limnology at York University. Additional authors include Ryan Benson, M.Sc. ONA Fisheries Biologist and Howie Wright, M. as well as Dr. Athena Ogden (DFO). It is important to mention that the late Dr. Hyatt was a Sockeye expert, an advocate and important ally in ONA’s efforts to restore salmon stocks and habitat on Syilx Territory.

Receiving this Award would not happen without the dedication and collaboration numerous partners forging strong working relationships in revealing the substantive, quantitative evidence on how the release of sockeye fry do not have substantial impacts on resident kokanee populations, as was once proposed. It is also the result of years of dedication by multiple people and organizations on the ground that have worked to ensure that sockeye salmon return to the Okanagan.

In addition, as stated in this study, it is also “one of a growing number of cases in which First Nations have assumed responsibility for the resources in their traditional territories and in which cultural and spiritual beliefs have informed resource stewardship,” and provides recognition for the importance of First Nations fisheries management.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance continues to be a leader in the field of fisheries management and salmon restoration, with the largest First Nations conservation hatchery on the continent. The Syilx Nation remains committed to ensuring the salmon are restored throughout all parts of the Syilx Okanagan territory.

The American Fisheries Society provides the award and is the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science, and conserving fisheries resources. For more info on the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, where this award will be given out on August 22 2022, please visit: https://afsannualmeeting.fisheries.org/

To read the full publication please visit:



Okanagan Nation Insist that the Province Halt Cutting Permits of Old Growth Forests on Syilx Territory

August 23rd, 2022

snkxy̌ kntn (Revelstoke), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation insist that the Province of BC protect old growth forest throughout our territory, including the area around snkxy̌ kntn. Despite the commitments made by BC to defer the development of Old Growth forests, they continue to approve cutting permits in critical caribou habitat and some of the last intact inland temperate rainforest in the Province. Despite having clear recommendations from an expert advisory panel, held up by BC as key to the success of their own Old Growth Strategic Review process, BC is continuing to approve development of Old Growth in the snkxy̌ kntn (Revelstoke) area on the basis that First Nations have not come to consensus on the old growth deferral areas.

The Province’s continued failure to protect these forests, particularly through the ongoing authorization of the harvesting of old growth forests, is disturbing and has already led to the extirpation (regional extinction) of key species, like southern mountain caribou. The Province’s justification for old growth deforestation is based on false assumptions regarding a lack of consensus by First Nations on the need to protect these forests and endangered ecosystems.

To clarify, the Syilx Okanagan Nation does not, in any way, oppose the protection and conservation of these ecosystems for the generations to come. What we opposed is the lack of meaningful engagement with the Syilx Okanagan Nation to determine how the protection of these forests should take place in our territory. Furthermore, in July 2022 the Selkirk Natural Resource District provided the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) with a set of options, developed by licensees in the Revelstoke area, that allow for the continued harvest of Old Growth forests. These options do not include adequate protections for old forests, caribou, and the many other values on our territory.

“The Province’s failure to protect Old Growth forests and critical caribou habitat has direct adverse impacts on our ability to maintain our culture and exercise our Title and Rights. It has resulted in the extinction and near-extinction of species that we have always relied on for food, social and ceremonial purposes, including southern mountain caribou. We have no reason to believe that BC intends to change their approach significantly enough to secure a thriving Southern Mountain Caribou population. Further, we are confident that BC is not able to rationalize their continued infringement on Syilx rights. This approach The Province cannot infringe our constitutionally protected rights without justification, or make decisions which will effectively extinguish those rights.” y̓ilm̓ ixwm Byron Louis, Okanagan Indian Band, states.

  • According to population estimates from late 2021:
    Six out of 17 subpopulations (herds) of southern mountain Caribou have been extirpated, or functionally extirpated, since 2003; is contrary to the honour of the Crown, your government’s constitutional obligations, and its commitments pursuant to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
  • The most southerly herds of southern mountain Caribou are at continued risk of extirpation;
  • Seven subpopulations (herds) are located on Syilx territory of which 3 are extirpated, 2 are threatened and declining, and 2 are stable but not self-sustaining; and
  • The ultimate cause of caribou loss is the continued loss and alteration of caribou habitat.

As such, the ONA require that the Province halt the cutting of old growth forests on Syilx territory, and meet with our leadership to determine a fulsome criteria for the issuance of cutting permits and protection of forests.


The ONA was formed in 1981 as the inaugural First Nations government in the Okanagan, which represents our member communities. Our mandate is to work collectively to advance and assert Syilx Okanagan Nation Title and Rights over the Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory.

For information please contact:

ki law na, Chief Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair T: 250-498-9132

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

Media Release

Building a Better Future Bursary Receipents

August 11th, 2022

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

This year the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Fortis BC and EMB Management Ltd. provided a total of 12 awards to financially support eligible Syilx Okanagan Nation students. The Building a Better Future Bursary has been granted every year since 2009.

This year the Okanagan Nation Alliance is pleased to announce four bursaries as part of this year’s Building a Better Future Bursary Program. The 2022 recipients are:

2022 Bursary Announcement

In the Face of Continued Colonial Practices, Syilx Okanagan Nation Sign the axá iʔ sccuntət iʔ tl x̌aʔxítət x̌l iʔ nəqsil̓tət (Family Declaration) at Annual General Assembly to Protect Children and Families

July 28th, 2022

snkykntn (Revelstoke), Syilx Territory:  From July 26 – 28, 2022, the Okanagan Nation Alliance hosted our Annual General Assembly in snkx̌ykntn. This annual event gathered Syilx Okanagan members from across the Nation — including leaders, Elders, traditional knowledge keepers, youth and community members — to celebrate the many successes that have taken place for Syilx people over the last year and reflect on the persistent challenges that we collectively face together.

This gathering witnessed the historic signing of the axá iʔ sccuntət iʔ tl x̌aʔxítət x̌l iʔ nəqsil̓tət (Family Declaration). Over the last two years Language Speakers and Elders throughout the Nation have worked diligently over the years to develop a Declaration that upholds our Syilx laws and affirms our rights and responsibilities to have the ability to protect the health and well-being our children and families. This document is deeply rooted in Syilx captikwl, language, and worldview, while providing a clear path for moving forward to self-determination. The signing of the Declaration was given further weight and importance considering the visit of the Pope to Turtle Island, yet again bringing to light the trauma of colonization, and the damages that such institutions continue to inflict on our people, and subsequently our family systems.

ki law na (y̓il̓mixʷm Clarence Louie), ONA Tribal Chair, stated that: “Injustices against our children and our families continue to be perpetrated on territory. We are calling on the Province and the Government of Canada to adhere to this Declaration and recognize our inherent rights and responsibilities to take care of our children and families on our own terms and in our own way.”

Carol Holmes, Syilx Elder, shared that: “We need to be responsible for one another. Before contact our families were self-sustaining and interdependent, we cared for our children. Our children were the center, our elders were the center, and so the Declaration that we have embraces those values and those beliefs. We’re no longer going to accept what happened to us, instead what we’re going to do is make sure that our children, our great grandchildren, and our children yet are going to be the strong, fearless, courageous, knowledgeable people that they were meant to be.”

y̓il̓mixʷm Greg Gabriel, Penticton Indian Band, also reiterated that: “The Declaration speaks to our teachings, our captikwl, as to who we are, Syilx Nation people. The guiding principles built into the Declaration will provide us guidance and be used by future generations on how we use our traditional values, our teachings and how we look after our families for the many years yet to come. This expression of Syilx law in relation to our families cannot be ignored; we are exercising our inherent jurisdiction over Syilx children and families. The governments of Canada and British Columbia are now put on Notice and must step aside as we carry out our sacred responsibilities to our future Syilx Okanagan generations.

Eliza Terbasket, long standing Syilx Okanagan Nation Wellness Committee member shared that   I believe this declaration embeds the future actions that will move our nation forward and ensuring our children are safe and cared for.  The Declaration is vital piece of our Nation building raising our children to be always proud of who they are and striving in their language and culture.” 

In addition to this years Annual Assembly the people spoke to the importance of hosting this years gathering in the north-eastern part of Syilx territory. The Syilx Okanagan Nation’s connection to the territory has been profoundly affected by the Columbia River Treaty (CRT). The dams industrialized the Columbia River system, destroyed thousands of square kilometers of land, permanently disrupted natural ecosystems, and threatened many species that call this territory home. The flooding destroyed historical Syilx Okanagan villages, sacred sites, burial grounds, and food harvesting areas, breaking many of the cultural and familial connections our communities held with the Upper Columbia and nx̌ wntkwitkw (Columbia River). By journeying out and having our Elders and Youth being on the land together to share in our Syilx history, stories, language, and perspectives, we are working to ensure that these connections continue to be handed down for generations to come. Alongside pertinent presentations and dialogues, there was also a variety of cultural activities taking place, including on-the-land tours to Syilx ancestral villages and places of cultural significance.

The Assembly ended today July 28 2022 and it was good to see our people gathering post-COVID-19.


The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was formed in 1981 as the inaugural First Nations government in the Okanagan, which represents the 8 member communities of the Okanagan Nation. The ONA mandate is to work collectively to advance and assert Syilx Okanagan Nation Title and Rights over the Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory.

For further information please contact:
ki law na (y̓il̓mixʷm Clarence Louie), ONA Tribal Chair
Tel:  250-498-9132

Media Release

Notice of Activities at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (Ok Falls fishing site) During the 2022 Fishing Season

July 18th, 2022

Starting the week of July 18th the Province of BC will be constructing a fence along the eastern bank of the river at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ (Ok Falls fishing site) to try to make access to the fishing site along the shoreline easier and uninhibited. The area may have construction and monitoring activity during the 2022 fishing season.

  • In an effort to maintain safe access and delineate the adjacent private residence from sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ, a fence is being constructed.
  • Osoyoos Indian Band monitors will be on-site to ensure safe access is maintained during this time.
  • Please avoid construction and monitoring activities as much as possible during the construction period.
  • The construction activities will also include removal of debris on the access rout to provide safe walking access.

The gate along the dam has been unlocked to allow access to the fishing site from the north side of the river. Water flows are high and fast moving, so please use extreme caution both along the dam and the shoreline at the site.

For more information please contact:
Richard Bussanich, ONA Biologist
Tel: 250-707-0095 ext. 108 // E: RBussanich@syilx.org

Shayla Lawrence, ONA Biologist
Tel: 250-707-0095 ext.109 // E: SLawrence@syilx.org

Okanagan sc’win (sockeye) Information and Updates

July 13th, 2022

Based on harvest information gathered since 2008, we are estimating a higher than average number of sc’win (sockeye salmon) to return to the Columbia watershed (and thus Okanagan subbasin) for the 2022 season. Returns of sc’win are monitored by tracking the numbers of fish that go through various dams and sites on the Columbia River. There is already roughly 553,172 sc’win counted at the mouth of the Columbia River — 83% above the average of 300,000 adults that tend to return per year. We estimate a total of 450,000 sc’win to make it to Wells Dam (on the Columbia River in central Washington), many of which will return to the Territory. At these levels, various fisheries have begun to open along the Columbia River — including opportunities for Syilx food and communal fisheries in the Okanagan sub-basin, alongside a small to medium scale commercial fishery in August 2022.

Food, Social and Ceremonial Fishery: With an abundantly high return of sc’win we are encouraging all Syilx members to get out and fish as part of a Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) fishery. Individual Syilx fishers, please be advised to fish nk’mip (Osoyoos Lake) and the sq̓ awsitkw (Okanagan River) downstream of Skaha from late June to July 31st, before water temperature become salmon “unfriendly” (above 21 degrees C). When going out to fish, please make sure to have your status card available, as Department of Fisheries and Oceans officers will be out periodically to ensure only Syilx Okanagan Nation members are fishing at this time. The FSC fishing will be prioritized between July 1 – August 1, 2022, with members being the only fishers out catching sc’win at this time. Individual members can continue to fish, but the Communal and Economic Fisheries will start on August 2 and end on August 31, 2022 at the latest.

Communal and Economic Fishery: Due to this exceptionally high return of sc’win, the ONA will conduct a communal fishery, whereby fish will be caught by seine boats, and distributed out to member communities throughout the month of August. The ONA’s communal fishery is tentatively planned for August 2 – 31, 2022. ONA will ensure the coordination of fish distribution to member communities. Please expect a higher allocation in early August, pending catches. ONA’s current goal is to distribute 5000-10000 sockeye to community.

ONA will also conduct an economic fishery as part of an ongoing strategic approach to recover some of the costs incurred by conducting the communal fishery and food fish distribution across the Nation.

In line with our commitment to being innovative and exploring best practices for resource use, we are launching a pilot project. We will split costs and catches for the communal and economic fishery – 50/50 with a contracted fisher. Cost recovery for operations will be shared evenly between the ONA and the contractor, alongside equal shares for catches. The hope is that this may innovate the way that we are able to make the communal fishery, and food fishery monitoring, financially sustainable.

As a means of ensuring integrity and transparency in this model, an ONA Harvest Coordinator will tally all fish landed at the dock in Osoyoos, with the fisher keeping a separate log of catch, alongside an independent third party, who will be counting and conducting quality inspections of fish for document comparison and quality assurance. ONA will be monitoring the returns and will end fishing prior to spawning activity at the end of August.

If successful, this model could potentially be used for other high abundant years but will be reviewed and considered in the future. We hope that this type of arrangement allows for the support of the communal harvest and distribution out to community — ensuring that this practice is sustainable for years to come

Recreational Fishery: Due to the abundance of sockeye returning a recreational fishery will most likely also be triggered in August, 2022. We are currently advocating and lobbying with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who regulate recreational fisheries, to ensure that it is limited to a set number of days and times in the month of August.

For More Information Please Contact:

Harvest Planning Management

Richard Bussanich, ONA Biologist

Tel: 250-707-0095 ext. 108
E: RBussanich@syilx.org

Shayla Lawrence, ONA Biologist

Tel: 250-707-0095 ext.109
E: SLawrence@syilx.org

Landing Site and Ice Distribution

Michael Reid, Landing Site Manager

Tel: 250- 499-0617

Herb Alex, Equipment and Logistics Support
Tel: 250-707-0095 ext. 354
E: halex@syilx.org

Communal Harvest Distribution
Menno Salverda, Nation Planner Health
Tel: 250-707-0095 ext. 227
E: NationPlanner.Health@syilx.org

Community Bulletin – sc’win Update

Syilx Okanagan Nation Demands Maximum Sentence for Fraudulent Child Protection Worker Robert Riley Saunders

June 21st, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Syilx Okanagan Nation is disturbed and disgusted by the plea deal struck between the Crown and Robert Riley Saunders and demands that the court provide justice for the many youth harmed by Saunders’ egregious abuses of power. Saunders stole at least $460,000 from youth, many First Nations, in government care for over a decade.

On June 22, 2022, at 9:00 am the ONA will hold a Syilx Nation Day of Action at the Kelowna Courthouse as part of the response to these injustices. We are calling on our Community members, guests in the territory, and non-Indigenous allies to join us at the Courthouse to stand in solidarity with all those harmed by Saunders’ actions. Given the number of aggravating factors already proven, the ONA also calls upon the BC Supreme Court to apply the maximum penalty possible to Saunders’ sentence.

“These injustices continue to be perpetrated on our lands, on our territory. As such, the Syilx Okanagan Nation demands justice for our vulnerable youth and calls upon the courts to use the full extent of the law to hold Saunders accountable. We challenge the Province to take immediate steps to ensure all social workers working for the Ministry of Children and Family Development are required to be registered with a public body to put in place monitoring and accountability safeguards. As long as government bureaucracies continue to perpetuate status quo and does nothing to enact real change and these criminal acts will persist. Truth and Reconciliation will forever remain ambiguous and our children and youth will continue to be victims of systems that fail them” stated y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Greg Gabriel, Syilx Child and Family Governance Representative.

Saunders, a Kelowna man, stole at least $460,000 from vulnerable youth in government care, most of whom were First Nations, while he worked as a child protection worker for the Ministry of Children and Family Development with a falsified social work degree. Saunders spent over a decade intentionally preying upon vulnerable First Nations youth for his own personal gain, siphoning off funds from over 100 victims in Ministry care. His theft of the funds meant for Indigenous youth in care went unnoticed by his supervisor until 2017, and Saunders was fired in 2018. Despite the significant impact he had on over 100 vulnerable youth, including two who died, and the amount of money he stole, Saunders was able to hide from RCMP and avoid arrest for over a year. Adding further insult to injury, he is currently out on bail in the Kelowna area.

The Syilx Okanagan Nation joins multiple other organizations, from the BC Association of First Nations, the First Nations Leadership Council, the First Nations Summit, to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in the demand for justice.


The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was formed in 1981 as the Tribal government for the Syilx Okanagan Nation.  The ONA”s mandate is to advance assert, support and preserve Syilx Okanagan Title and Rights.  Further, the ONA is charged with the forum to bring forward numerous interests and form positions on areas of common concern.  For more info on ONA’s Children and Families work, please visit: www.syilx.org/wellness/our-programs-and-services/children-and-families/

For information please contact:

y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Clarence Louie, ONA Tribal Chair
T: 250-498-9132

y̓il̓mixʷm (Chief) Greg Gabriel, Syilx Child and Family Governance Representative
T: 250-490-7250

Media Release

Syilx Okanagan Nation Members Continue to Run on the Land to Raise Awareness on Suicide and Violence in Community

June 1st, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory:  The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) will host the 14th annual Spirit of Syilx Unity Run from June 3-5, 2022. This year participants will be starting at the Kamloops Indian Residential School and finishing at the Syilx Indian Residential School monument on the Penticton Indian Band reserve. This run was initiated in 2008 by Syilx youth to raise awareness about the issues of suicide and violence that our communities continue to face. The event will bring approximately 125 Syilx youth and members from across the Nation together, running through 288 kilometers.

WHY: The Syilx Okanagan Nation faces disproportionate levels of violence and suicide, alongside an opioid overdose crisis. This has been further compacted by severe environmental emergencies that have increased over the years. The Unity Run is one of the most impactful approaches the Nation has to addressing these issues collectively, used to raise awareness and education with all youth members, citizens and the public on issues of suicide and violence that continues to confront Syilx communities.

Beyond these foundational goals, the Unity Run provides youth and members to be out on the land to connect with each other throughout the Nation.  It is an innovative and holistic means of promoting land-based learning and wellness to Syilx youth. By engaging a wide range of tools – from physical activity, recognition of connection to land, and implementation of the Syilx teachings, culture and language – the Run provides participants with a deep sense of well-being. It educates on healthy lifestyle alongside facilitating the experience of community, connection and belonging. Syilx youth are also provided connection to their territory together as a Nation, while building relationships with Syilx elders, thus enacting our inherent responsibility to each other, the land and for generations to come.

WHEN: June 3-5, 2022

WHERE: From the Kamloops Indian Residential School to the Syilx Indian Residential School Monument on the Penticton Indian Band.

MORE INFO:  More information on the event can be found at www.syilx.org/events/spirit-of-syilx-youth-unity-run/

The Okanagan Nation Response Team, Sәx kәnxit әlx “Those Who Help” is a team of Syilx community members who have extensive training in the areas of suicide education, community mobilization, and critical incident response. The team is comprised of community members trained in responding to community crisis. They receive training at least twice a year to enhance their skills to better serve the communities they respond to.

Contact: Raven Mikuletic, ONA Communications Coordinator
E: rmikuletic@syilx.org
T: 250-707-0095 ext 121

Media Advisory

Okanagan Nation Alliance and EMB Management Ltd. Announce Annual Commitment to ONA’s “Building a Better Future Bursary” Program

May 29th, 2022

tkwəɬniwt (Westbank), Syilx Territory: The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is pleased to announce that EMB Management Ltd’s has committed $10,000 annually to the ONA’s Building a Better Future Bursary Program. This program assists Syilx students in their pursuit of education.

This announcement demonstrates the power of supporting First Nations students. “We will build and maintain relationships with First Nations communities in whose traditional territories we operate — to devise and implement strategies to educate, train, and provide employment opportunities with EMB for member communities,” Eric Larson, GM of EMB Management Ltd stated.

“It is important to remember and be reminded that education is, and has always been, an important part of Syilx culture and values. This includes fostering partnerships that support our ability to support our Syilx learners and highlight the fact that we truly believe in their lives, their future, and their educational pursuits,” Pauline Terbasket, ONA Executive Director, also stated.

As such, we are currently pursuing candidates to apply for all scholarships, bursaries, and awards. For more information on how to apply, as well as other Building a Better Future funding, please visit: www.syilx.org/about-us/operations/building-a-better-future-bursary/

This year the application deadline is 3:00 pm on July 15, 2022. Recipients will be announced on July 27, 2022, at the ONA’s Annual General Assembly in Revelstoke, BC.


The Building a Better Future program provides support to eligible Syilx Okanagan Nation member students. This scholarship, bursary and awards program recognizes student achievement and encourages Syilx Okanagan Nation members to pursue post-secondary education. This program was initiated in 2009 with a partnership between Terasen Gas (now FortisBC) and has provided support to Syilx learners on an annual basis.

For more information, please contact:
Tara Montgomery, ONA Communications Lead
T: 1-250-707-0095 ext. 120  E: tmontgomery@syilx.org