First Nations groups continued to push for equality in 2017 and targetted Canada Day 150 celebrations to remind Canadians that the past 150 years were not a celebration for everyone.
Calling themselves the Rethink 150 Collective, the group first erected billboards near Duck Lake outside of Kelowna and near Keremeos, putting the spotlight on the last 150 years for Indigenous people.
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Dixon Terbasket was with the Syilx Okanagan tribe and the Rethink 150 Collective. Terbasket and his family wanted to bring the dark history of Canada and its aboriginals to light.
“Here in the Okanagan it’s a little different, it’s harder to see. We’re urbanized, we’re surrounded by the settlers, for lack of a better term. (But) there’s a lot of things we have on reserves. People are poor, they have health issues. People say ‘why don’t you just get over it?’ (or call us lazy.) I’ve worked hard all my life.
“There’s so many things that haven’t been told; the history of the Okanagan people itself.”
The billboards were designed to make people think and were slated to be up for two months.
As Canada Day celebrations unfolded across the country and in the Okanagan, First Nations groups continued to push their message to the public.
The BC Union of Indian Chiefs denounced Canada Day celebrations, saying it could not take part in the celebrations due to a “history which reflects 150 years of genocidal policies in an attempt to eradicate our cultural, spiritual, and political systems, alongside our universal fundamental human rights to exist as Indigenous peoples.”
In Kelowna the Rethink 150 Collective hosted several events leading up to Canada Day as well as events as part of Kelowna’s celebration.
Following Canada Day, the Okanagan Indian Band released information about its longstanding battle with Canada on its Colonial Land Claim.
“It is a point of great pride that during times of conflict every able bodied man from the Okanagan Indian Band volunteered to serve during each World War,” stated the OKIB. “As Canadians celebrate the history of this country, we ask that you delve a little deeper and critically examine the current situation that the Canadian government has the power to resolve with our band.”
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