staying cultured land issues
Wild blueberries in Okanagan territory. Photo by Chehala Leonard.
Okanagan

IndigiNews of the week: Keeping culturally connected

Your weekly roundup of news and information about what’s happening across the Nation.

In this weekly round-up, we have a variety of topics from across our Nations, including Athena Bonneau’s Get Cultured article, which offers various ways to stay connected culturally while socially distancing as the pandemic continues. We also look at land issues in a report by Kelsie Kilawna. She spoke with Splatsin First Nation Elder Nathan Kinbasket who is dealing with the City of Enderby encroaching on his private lands, and nearby tubers using his property as a local hotspot.

Worth your time  

  • In Get cultured this summer with these virtual classes, Athena Bonneau shares various online seminars and classes that you can participate in to stay connected to traditional practices while staying home. With hand drumming, beading basics, classes on cultural appropriation, reconciliation training, and a workshop for Indigineous feminists. 

  • In 10 Indigenous guardian programs, including Yukon’s Kluane First Nation’s, get federal funding, The Narwhal focuses on 10 Indigenous guardian programs across the country. According to the piece, “On July 22, the federal government announced $600,000 for 10 Indigenous guardian projects across the country. This marks the third year of its Indigenous Guardians pilot program, which provides funding for Indigenous communities to monitor and protect the environment as they see fit.” They explain that the purpose of the program is “to collect information on the health of the land. While they have no authority to enforce laws, they record what they see and educate anyone entering their traditional territory about sensitive habitats and wildlife, along with the regulations designed to protect them.”

  • In ‘There’ll Be Lots of Changes’: Samantha Cocker on Her Role in Reforming BC’s Indigenous Child Welfare System, The Tyee interviews the new deputy representative for advocacy and First Nations, Métis and Inuit relations in the Representative for Children and Youth office. “There’ll be lots of changes with communities taking over what’s inherently theirs to begin with: the jurisdiction of child welfare,” says Cocker, whose heritage is Cree and Scottish. At the end of the interview, she adds, “Personally, my drive in all of my work is to have better outcomes for children, youth and families, especially Indigenous children, youth and families. Being a child product of the system, in many ways, and being disconnected from my community and culture as a young child, I understand identity and knowing where you come from and who you belong to is so critical and key to your well-being. It’s a passion and a personal goal for me to have those better outcomes for our children and youth. So that they do know who they are and where they come from.”

News of the week

  • Ethan Bear to don jersey with Cree syllabics in exhibition game, according to Oilers Nation. Cree hockey player Ethan Bear got to wear a special jersey with his Cree syllabics on it during his exhibition game on July 28. According to an interview with the sports blog, Bear said, “It will be an honour to wear this jersey tonight. … I feel like I will be wearing it for all those Indigenous players who came before me and those Indigenous kids dreaming of playing in the NHL.”

  • In Haisla Nation running workshops to document 10K words to preserve language, APTN National News talks with Haisla Nation member Theresa Windsor on the importance of the revitalization of language and culture. According to APTN, “In an effort to preserve the language, the Haisla Nation is running a workshop documenting more than 10,000 words with the help of fluent Elders.” Windsor adds, “This gives me hope because that is what I want for the collective, but that’s what I want for my children, and all our Haisla children is to feel like they belong and that they have a place in this world.”

  • Lacrosse associations pushing for inclusion of Iroquois Nationals at World Games, by APTN National News, follows this movement as a petition to include the team reaches almost 40,000 signatures. According to APTN, the Iroquois Nationals team was not invited to play at the 2022 World Games for lacrosse, which will be held in Birmingham, Alabama. The ability to participate in the games is based on results from the Federation of International Lacrosse (now World Lacrosse) World Lacrosse Championships, which took place in 2018. However, the team is still being excluded based on the International World Games Association (IWGA) rules. These are set by the International Olympics Committee, which defines “what is recognized as a country.” APTN explains, “The Iroquois Nationals travel with Haudenosaunee passports and the nationhood of the Haudenosaunee precedes Canada becoming a country on July 1, 1867.” Furthermore, “The sport and the Haudenosaunee confederacy precede both by hundreds of years.”

Okanagan latest

  • In Kelsie Kilawna’s latest, Splatsin Elder struggles to stop tubers from accessing his private property, she talks with Splatsin Elder Nathan Kinbasket who is dealing with the City of Enderby encroaching on his private lands, and nearby tubers using his property as a local hotspot. According to Kinbasket, “The problem is, a long time ago, back in my grandmother’s day when we still had [a] wooden bridge here, she let the public come swim here.” However, years later, Kilawana reports that “some of the locals and tourists still believe that the Kinbaskets’ land is for public access. He says they have resorted to destroying his many attempts at posting warning signs, clarifying his property is no longer open to the public.” According to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure representative Peggy Kulmala, “The ministry is looking to work with the certificate-of-possession owner and Splatsin to resolve the outstanding concerns.”

  • Clarence Louie elected Tribal Chair of Okanagan Nation Alliance, reports Castanet. Louie, who has served for 34 years as Chief of Osoyoos Indian Band, was elected this week. A press release by ONA reads, “Chief Louie is the longest standing Chief within the Nation and will no doubt provide strong leadership based on his years of experience, knowledge and past service to the Nation.” Castanet reports, “Louie will be taking over from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who has spent 16 years as tribal chairman. Phillip remains the president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. In June, he reached out to the public to seek a kidney transplant.”

  • In Fundraiser launches for Okanagan Rail Trail gateway, according to Lake Country Calendar, “The Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail (the non-profit volunteer group who support the rail trail) are launching the first fundraising campaign to support development of a ‘signature northern gateway’ at Kilometre Zero of the trail.” The purpose of the trail is to include “Concept plans call for development of a ‘plaza’ staging area, interpretive installations and public art, a hilltop lookout and native plant restoration with indigenous gardens.” Okanagan Indian Band will be actively involved managing and developing the route and, according to Chief Byron Louis, “The Okanagan Rail Trail was originally part of a larger interconnected network of trails utilized by our people to access all parts of Northern Syilx Territory to undertake essential sustenance, societal and spiritual activities.”

That’s it for this week! If you have news or information that you want to share, email me: chehala@indiginews.com.