As attendees line up to take that first bite of the salmon, a bit of drumming and singing at the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park in Okanagan Falls. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Syilx Nation celebrates return of sockeye

Okanagan Nation Alliance Salmon Feast held in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Park in Okanagan Falls over the weekend

A canopy of trees at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park offered attendees of the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast a break from the outside world, be it for a day or the whole weekend.

The annual event in Okanagan Falls celebrates the return of sc’win (Okanagan Sockeye Salmon) to Syilx territory, and ran from Friday to Sunday in the park.

While some camped out, there was plenty of parking for those who chose to head in for a morning or afternoon and head back home at the end of the day.

On offer were numerous vendors, some selling Indigenous art, others informing of various programming, including the Burrowing Owl Society, which is attempting to repopulate the small raptor in the region, and the ONA’s transition houses.

Though the weather turned from cool but sunny to overcast on Sunday, the small festival had a jovial tone, with people not just of the Syilx Nation, but of varying heritages in attendance.

Speakers included Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie, with many speaking to the importance of respecting the cycle of the salmon in B.C.

While there was a nostalgia to many of the speeches, there were also sober tones, as topics shifted to diminishing salmon stocks, the urgency of climate change and continuing injustices for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

One speaker sought to remind attendees of the staggering number of children in Canada’s foster care system, last gauged by Statistics Canada at just under 50 per cent — “and that number’s not going down,” the speaker said.

And to top it all off, a delicious feast of salmon, barbecued by, among others, Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas, along with salads, vegetables and desserts.


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Attendees got a glimpse at some animal bones and taxidermy at the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park in Okanagan Falls. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

There were plenty of children running around with a bit of paint on their faces at the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park in Okanagan Falls. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Several vendors had Indigenous arts and crafts up for sale at the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park in Okanagan Falls, including this man who said he was selling the art for a friend. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

After barbecuing the salmon, Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas (left) helps to carry some salmon into the main event at the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park in Okanagan Falls. Attendees lined up to take a small bite of the salmon before the main feast began. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Attendees lined up to take a small bite of the salmon, carried into the main event at the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park in Okanagan Falls. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

The Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast in sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park in Okanagan Falls brought attendees of all ages. Here, attendees listened to a number of speakers, who spoke of Syilx traditions, the urgency of climate change and the issues affecting Indigenous People’s in Canada, including child foster care. Dustin Godfrey/Western News