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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