As summer solstice, June 21 has held significant meaning for Indigenous peoples long before the dominion of Canada recognized it with any formality. It was only in 1996 that the Canadian government announced June 21 as then 'National Aboriginal Peoples Day', and in 2017 that the Prime Minister renamed this to be National Indigenous Peoples Day.


Like most of Canada, Kelowna was settled on Indigenous lands; this region is home to the Syilx Okanagan peoples, and is part of the Okanagan Nation. The territory covers approximately 69,000 square kilometers and stretches from Revelstoke (also known as Mica Creek) to Kaslo/Kootenay Lakes, down to Wilbur (WA) and west into the Nicola Valley. When we acknowledge this history and the people who have lived here for generations, we acknowledge these ancestral lands with deep respect. 

Syilx Territory connects all who live here in a way that's unique, unspoken and often unacknowledged. Being aware of the history of this territory is something each of us can do, and in growing this awareness we might reach more understanding.


We as a population have more access to information about Indigenous history than ever before, through digitizing archives and capturing story with organizations and associations, and creating space for this history to breathe. That said, we as a community have lost touch with so much. This is where education comes in.

As Indigenous peoples speak their voices, an engaged and active audience is required to participate. In August 1987, the Syilx Okanagan People signed the Okanagan Nation Declaration declaring their sovereignty. On April 1, 2005, the Westbank First Nation Self Government Act came into effect after nearly two decades of community consultation. And July 15-16, 2010, at Spirit Ridge in Osoyoos, the member Chiefs and Council of Syilx Okanagan Nation signed the Declaration of Unity with the Colville Confederated Tribes Business Council. 

Each is an important step, and non-Indigenous people can participate through education and listening. Together can can build a better understanding, and create healthy communities. 


This list is but a small drop of information in an ocean of opportunity. While each day provides us with space to include a new perspective, on June 21 specifically we ask our community to listen to Indigenous voices. Together we can create, cultivate, and grow.