Okanagan Indian Band unveils Canoe Bay sign, sharing syilx knowledge

·2 min read

A new sign with information about the cultural significance of Canoe Bay, adjacent to Kin Beach, in the City of Vernon in syilx territory will be unveiled on Sept. 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“I am pleased to see the interpretive sign erected at Canoe Bay, because this area has always held great importance to the Syilx people,” says Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) in a press release on Sept 28.

“The Syilx presence in the area goes back centuries and our people used this beach and the area for trading, ceremonies, celebrations, fishing, hunting and for gathering food,” he says.

Local syilx knowledge keepers worked with the OKIB’s Territorial Stewardship Division and Language and Culture team to co-create the signage, which educates the public about the traditional use and significance of the bay.

“​​The project began over four years ago when OKIB and the City of Vernon started a Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) together,” says the OKIB’s press release. “It became clear that developing a shared understanding of history and of Syilx presence in the area before settlement was key to developing a more honest relationship.”

This project builds on collaborative beach maintenance work done by the Regional District of the Okanagan (RDNO) and the syilx community.

“The signs being unveiled are designed to help regional residents learn about the cultural significance of the lands in the hopes that they treat the land and waters with respect,” says the OKIB’s release.

“More signage work will be undertaken in the future in other locations to continue this journey of reflection and shared learning. Along with the improvements made last year, we are seeing the beach area coming back to life.”

A ceremony will be held on Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. at Canoe Bay to celebrate the new signage, aligned commitments and the growing relationships that brought it to fruition. The community is asking attendees to respect COVID-19 safety protocols.

Kelsie Kilawna, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

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