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A Secwepemcúl̓ecw flag has found a permanent home at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus after a historic ceremony today.
Representatives of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, Splatsin Indian Band, Neskonlith Indian Band, Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band and Adams Lake Indian Band and Okanagan College gathered today for a flag raising ceremony recognizing the traditional unceded territories of the Secwepemc.
“Reconciliation is about action, not words. Today’s raising of the Secwepemc flag signals Okanagan College’s commitment to the TRC’s call to action,” said Kukpi7 Wayne Christian, Chief of Splatsin Band and Tribal Chief Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.
“Okanagan College values and respects Indigenous culture and ways of knowing,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We also deeply value the relationships we continue to strengthen with Indigenous people in the region. Flying the Secwepemcúl̓ecw flag is just one way of acknowledging the Secwepemc on whose traditional territory we live, work and learn. Our students and staff will see this symbol of respect each day, raised as a step toward and in the spirit of reconciliation.”
Today’s flag raising is the third ceremony recognizing Indigenous peoples in whose lands the College resides. The College raised a permanent ONA flag at the Kelowna campus in June and a permanent ONA flag at the Vernon campus in July.
“Indigenization is about learning more about Indigenous knowledge, people and place,” says Juliette Cunningham, member of the Okanagan College Board of Governors. “The Salmon Arm campus is and has always been enriched by the sharing of culture that happens continually thanks to the dialogue and flow of knowledge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, elders and community members.”
At the ceremony, dignitaries spoke about the relationship between the College and Indigenous people in the region. Louis Thomas, a Traditional Knowledge Keeper and Councillor for Neskonlith Indian Band opened the ceremony with a blessing.
The flag builds on the Indigenous physical presence at the Salmon Arm campus, which includes the Aboriginal Gathering Space that opened in fall of 2009.
The ceremony was livestreamed on the College’s Facebook page. Photos from the ceremony can be found on the College's Flickr gallery.