Commemorating the 1990 Oka Run For Peace, Okanagan Nation Alliance members laced up running from Hedley to Osoyoos on Thursday.
“This commemoration run is meant to honour and recognize this time Syilx history where the Syilx Nation took a stand for peace and solidarity with the Kahnawá:ke during the Oka Crisis and whereby all Indian Nations continue to do so to protect their lands, peoples and resources,” said Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie.
Thursday event also marks the Okanagan Nation’s annual general assembly which is taking place in Osoyoos Aug. 17 and 18 at the Spirit Ridge conference centre. The ONA said in a press release that the same struggles that ignited the 1990 Oka Crisis persist within the Okanagan territory. The run takes participants through Cawston and then past the ancestral remains that were unearthed last summer.
“It is a disgrace that we have had to wait almost a year and a half, and still we have no resolve on our disturbed ancestral burial grounds,” said Chief Keith Crow.
With global political and social turmoil on the rise it has never been more important to have a united voice advocating for peace, justice and human rights.
The original Oka Run For Peace took place in the summer 1990 over six weeks, and saw more than 73 Okanagan Nation members run from Syilx to Kanehsatà:ke territory to show solidarity with the Mohawk resistance to developments on their sacred burial grounds during the Oka Crisis.
The ONA said these historical acts continue to resonate with the current need to face the challenges imposed on Syilx territory and their member communities and indigenous peoples across Canada. The nation will welcome Ellen Gabriel, a Kanehsatà:ke Mohawk Territory indigenous human rights activist and a key spokesperson during the Oka Crisis, to the event.
“The ONA’s 2017 Annual General Assembly provides Syilx people with the opportunity to gather as a nation, to celebrate the many successes that have taken place for our people over the last year, and reflect on the challenges that we continue to face,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip (ONA chairman). “With an ambitious political agenda from the Province of B.C. to fully embrace the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and support our ongoing opposition to the Site C dam project, Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal and B.C./Petronas’s Lelu Island LNG facility, the coming year will demand that we stand united to ensure that our collective title and rights are recognized and respected.”