The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) is inviting all members of the OKIB community, the syilx Nation and the general public to attend the grand reopening of the newly constructed Cultural Arbor gathering space at Komasket Park in syilx territory on Saturday, May 28.
Located on a pre-contact syilx village and fishing site, the Cultural Arbor can accommodate approximately 300 people, who are welcome to use the space to gather and celebrate. The circular open-air, roofed building features bleacher-style seating that flows around the inside of the structure in four tiers.
“The arbor is a space which builds a sense of community, supports gathering, inspires health and wellbeing, and upholds the values of the OKIB community,” said Nick Nilsen, the communications specialist at OKIB.
Many of the huge logs and timbers used to construct the new arbor were reclaimed from the original Cultural Arbor, which was built in the 1980s and decommissioned in 2018 due to safety concerns. For 30 years, the original arbor served as a gathering place for syilx people, who used the space for powwows, ceremonies, Youth and Elders’ gatherings, cultural events and workshops.
“So many memories were made with the previous arbor and many great memories will be made here,” said Chief Byron Louis of the OKIB. “It’s good to see the arbor rebuilt and in use.”
The grand reopening is a full-day event that begins at 10 a.m. and concludes at 7 p.m. It will open with remarks from chief and council, as well as an opening prayer from an Elder. A smudging ceremony will also take place.
An Indian Taco Lunch will be accompanied by a Powwow Grand Entry. There will also be a community fashion show, as well as evening entertainment featuring storytelling and music.
Vendors and booths will also be set up throughout the day, while activities for youth such as language games and book readings will also be available.