En’owkin Centre in partnership with Penticton Indian Band

The En’owkin Centre is recognized internationally as a leader in the field of education, promoting an increased understanding of cultural traditions and ecological literacy among both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities through hands-on, experienced based education and conservation through the ECOmmunity Place Locatee Lands project.

SnPink’tn (The Penticton Indian Band) represents one of the communities of the Okanagan Nation. The Okanagan people have been around since time immemorial, long before the arrival of the Europeans. The original people of the Okanagan are known as the Syilx speaking people – the “Okanagans” and according to their history they have been here since the beginning of people on this land. The Okanagans (Syilx) people occupied an area which extended over approximately 69,000 square kilometres. Their history was passed on from one person to another and from generation to generation. It is a history of the meaning of being Syilx, rather than a history of dates. SnPink’tn (The Penticton Indian Band) is located on beautiful bench land comprised of three reserves. “We are Syilx who receive our strength from timixw and encompass what is good for our livelihood. We are committed to our language and the teachings of our captiklxw and respect that everyone has value and purpose to come together as one.” (taken from the PIB website).

This project will permanently protect a 5 acre parcel containing rare and endangered lowland riparian and wetland habitats including some of the last remaining mature black cottonwood forest in the South Okanagan. This special place is also home to many endangered species, buffers the only known Great Blue Heron rookery in the entire South Okanagan valley, and is part of a larger effort to re-naturalize the Okanagan River floodplain – providing natural flood relief and recovering salmon populations.

The property is a Certificate of Possession (CP) property, or “locatee” land on the Penticton Indian Reserve #1, directly adjacent to the Okanagan River Channel and the City of Penticton. The En’owkin Centre, through the ECOmmunity Place Locatee Lands project, is leading the process to purchase and transfer the CP parcel from the current holder, to be held in trust, in perpetuity, for all Penticton Indian Band members for environmental protection and ecologically sustainable cultural use.

Securing this parcel will provide benefits to the entire South Okanagan region including ensuring water quality and quantity, protection of natural floodplain habitats, sensitive terrestrial ecosystems; habitat for native plants and wildlife including for multiple species at-risk and species of cultural significance to the Syilx (Okanagan) people. The En’owkin Centre highlights future opportunities for future habitat restoration and enhancement; habitat connectivity corridors for wildlife, and public cultural and environmental outreach and education programs.

The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Board approved this project and allocated $57,755 from the South Okanagan Conservation Fund in 2018. The South Okanagan Conservation Fund dollars are matching significant confirmed funding from other sources. The project is expected to complete by February 1, 2019.