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OC’s Kelowna campus flies Syilx flag permanently
Okanagan College Media Release

ONA flag raising June 2019The Syilx Okanagan Nation flag has found a permanent home at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, after a historic ceremony today.

The Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training joined representatives of the Westbank First Nation, Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Okanagan College today for a flag raising ceremony recognizing the traditional unceded territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) people.

“Our people have had a long history of education with Okanagan College, which is being recognized and honoured here today,” says Westbank First Nation Chief Roxanne Lindley. “As our students walk these campus lands, I hope they feel pride in seeing our flag displayed, and our Nation represented. It is truly a day for celebration.”

“I often say there is no act of reconciliation that is too small,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Today, Okanagan College took steps to formally recognize the First Nations on whose land the college resides. Flying the Syilx Okanagan Nation flag demonstrates that Okanagan College is committed to relationships, respect and reconciliation. I hope to see more of this important work happening across the province.”

The flag formally signifies the College’s recognition of Indigenous peoples on whose lands the College resides.

“Okanagan College values and respects Indigenous culture and ways of knowing. Today’s flag raising is a symbolic gesture, as well as an incremental step toward Indigenization and authentic partnership that can enrich the education of learners,” says Chris Derickson, Okanagan College Board of Governors Chair.Chief Roxanne Lindley June 2019

Dignitaries spoke about the relationship between the College and the ONA. Elder Grouse Barnes opened the ceremony with a blessing. Amber Cardenas sang the Okanagan song as the flag was raised by Westbank First Nation students Janice Money and Addison Fosbery.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance flag features animals, water and the landscape significant to the area, as a representation of Syilx Okanagan people’s understanding of living in reciprocity and harmony with the natural world.

The flag builds on the Indigenous physical presence at the Kelowna campus, which includes the na’ʔk’ʷulamən garden – green space featuring more than 50 different types of plants that are significant to Indigenous people of the region.