Syilx Data Governance

From time immemorial, Syilx people have gathered, stored, protected, and shared knowledge. Oral storytelling of captikwł taught laws, customs, values, governance structures, and principles that, together, define and inform Syilx rights and responsibilities to the land and to culture. One of the main aspects of Syilx data governance has been protection. Careful consideration was given to who should be trained as the safe keeper of certain knowledge, and how and when the knowledge was shared. To this day, there continue to be roles and responsibilities in families, communities, and the Nation for knowledge keepers. It is important that traditional laws and protocols are followed when gathering, storing, protecting, and sharing knowledge.

For years, Syilx leadership has expressed the need to inform wellness data decisions, planning, and monitoring of programs. For example, leadership has questioned why some strategies are given preference over others. Good quality data that is timely and informed by sqlxʷłcaw̓tət (Syilx ways of being) is needed to paint a picture of how our nation members are doing and what wellness trends are taking place.

Syilx data governance planning work started in 2019 under a multi-year funding commitment that ONA received from Indigenous Services Canada. It is one piece of the ONA Wellness work being done to better the lives of the Syilx people. Data sovereignty is the right Syilx people have to tell the Syilx story, with Syilx data, in a way that is responsible to all our relations.

Majority of the wellness data governance work has been dedicated to restoring our relationship with data. The balanced approach of the Four Food Chiefs Model provided the building blocks for the Draft Wellness Data Governance Plan.

Chief skəmist tradition: Knowledge keepers and language speakers have been sharing Syilx laws and protocols relating to data Syilx ways of being and knowing.

Chief spitləm relational/interconnectedness: Syilx wellness data is deeply rooted in the stories of individuals, families, communities, and the Nation. Our data stories interconnect with our ancestors, future generations, the tmixʷ, and to all relations. It is an ever-continuing spiral of Syilx story interaction.

Chief siyaʔ what could be: Chief siyaʔ embodies the spirit of creative energy, vision, and innovation. Through Nation member engagement and learning from other Indigenous Nations, we are exploring how to renew Syilx data sovereignty and how the traditional ways of data governance that Nation members shared can be used as stepping stones for discussions on Syilx principles for data sovereignty.

Chief n’tyxtix – action: Chief ntytyix embodies the spirit of unwavering determination and action orientation. Chief ntytyix will help breathe life into the vision, respond to community-specific needs, and advance the wellness of the people.

Wellness Data Governance work from August 2019 to March 2023













ʔamtus Nicholas Clark, Community Development Coordinator, Data

Raila Dollevoet, Nation Planner, Data

c̓ʔak̓ʷm Jennifer Lewis, Wellness Manager