The year 2016 saw local First Nations bands raising several issues and continuing to fight for their rights on numerous fronts. It’s a fight that shows no sign of ending but this year in the Central Okanagan there were several events that raised the public profile. The Okanagan Indian Band held a rally over missing and murdered women, the Okanagan Nation Alliance re-introduced salmon into Okanagan Lake and the Westbank First Nation saw a historic change in leadership, making First Nations one of our top stories of 2016, coming in at No. 8.
•Near Vernon in October, the Okanagan Indian Band hosted Sisters in Spirit vigil as part of the See Me, Hear Me, Remember Me Red Dress campaign, with red dresses symbolizing the victims of violence.
“These women were daughters, mothers and aunts,” said Coola Louis, an Okanagan Indian Band councillor during the vigil. “These women had places in our hearts. They were beautiful women capable of doing beautiful things.”
At Mission Creek in Kelowna, the Okanagan Nation Alliance released sockeye salmon into the main feeder stream of Okanagan Lake in a historic ceremony that went ahead despite the objections of provincial fisheries managers.
At the Royal visit at UBC Okanagan, close to a year after the truth and reconciliation report, Penticton Band Chief Jonathan Kruger asked the Royal couple to fight for true reconciliation but heard nothing back.
— Kevin Parnell (@KP_media1) September 27, 2016
The Westbank First Nation saw a change in leadership in 2016 as Roxanne Lindley defeated incumbent Robert Louie to become the first woman chief of the WFN.
Lindley is the daughter of John Norman Lindley, who was elected the first chief of the Westbank Indian Band in 1963. She previously had started a foundation aimed at helping others in his name.
Louie had been chief since 2002, and had served a previous stint as leader of the WFN from 1986 to 1996.