Way' – Weytk – Hello
Greetings in nsyilxcən and secwepemctsin (the language of Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc peoples, respectively). Way' is the Syilx Okanagan greeting and connotes an acknowledgement that what has happened is done and everything is now a possibility. Weytk is the Secwepemc greeting meaning hello or welcome.
Indigenization in action
Indigenous convocation stoles
Okanagan College is gifting Indigenous graduates with commemorative convocation stoles designed with pictographs from both the Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc nations.
Four Food Chiefs
The sculptural image of the Four Food Chiefs is conveyed through artist, Clint George’s eyes. This story is for everybody, and Clint encourages you to reflect on what this story means to you.
Coyote, the Trickster
Read the story of Coyote's adventurous mishaps, which bring Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc teachings with strong ties to societal values, traditional knowledge, spirituality and overall world views.
The Indigenous garden overlooking Kalamalka Lake at OC's Vernon campus is a result of a special collaboration between communities.
With the goal of providing culturally relevant support, Aboriginal Services is available to students at all four OC campuses.
Indigenous Culinary Arts
Students in a special Indigenous Culinary Arts intake took a field trip to learn traditional preparation and cooking methods from Elders.
The green space outside the Centre for Learning in Kelowna features 50 local plant varieties that are significant to the region's Indigenous people.
Gathering Place potlucks
The Gathering Place at the Salmon Arm campus hosts several events and potlucks throughout the year, connecting students with Elders, Indigenous community members and many other Shuswap neighbours.
Okanagan College respectfully acknowledges that our Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon campuses are located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan People, our Salmon Arm campus is located on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc, and our Revelstoke centre is located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc, Sinixt and Syilx Okanagan Peoples.
The Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc peoples have taken care of their homelands for thousands of years. Okanagan College is respectful of the Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc peoples, their knowledge, language, and history, as well as their ongoing relationship to the land and natural world. Learn more about Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc peoples, their homelands and governance.
Syilx Okanagan communities
- Westbank First Nation
- Okanagan Indian Band
- Penticton Indian Band
- Osoyoos Indian Band
- Lower Similkameen Indian Band
- Upper Similkameen Indian Band
- Upper Nicola Indian Band
- Adams Lake Indian Band
- Neskonlith Indian Band
- Little Shuswap Indian Band
- Splatsin Indian Band
- Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
- Kelowna Métis Association
- Salmon Arm Métis Association
Our plan for Indigenization
Okanagan College leadership and broader College community are committed to working with, and learning from, the Indigenous community.
As part of the College's Strategic Plan and other strategic directions (Indigenous Education Protocol, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and BC Ministry of Advanced Education's mandate letter), Okanagan College created the Indigenization Task Force to foster input and direction towards our Indigenization planning and activities. The Indigenization Task Force consists of faculty and staff from various departments and all campuses.
The Indigenization plan aims to engage and enhance our ties with our Indigenous community members; strengthen the physical, cultural and spiritual spaces at OC; increase Indigenous knowledge and culture within our curriculum, as well as identify potential changes to College policies, structure and processes.
Indigenization at Okanagan College involves rejecting past colonizing patterns of homogenization, exclusion and erasure of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge, languages, identities as well as cultural and educational aspirations. Accordingly, where and when possible, Indigenous ways of being and doing, as well as methodologies that lend themselves to bringing Indigenous knowledge to the fore, will guide the Indigenization planning process.
A key tenet of this planning process is to form and strengthen respectful and inclusive knowledge relationships that will converge with the College's Strategic Plan, helping to create meaningful, inclusive projects and programming that look to the future. Accordingly, the College looks to foster meaningful relationships across departments, for projects, programs and courses with specific Indigenous content, especially Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc.
This enhanced knowledge base, presence on campus and diversity will extend outward to welcome and acknowledge all Indigenous students, staff and faculty, while also ensuring that everyone who is connected to Okanagan College is aware of the languages, knowledge and ways of the Indigenous peoples.
Okanagan College is striving to be a place where all students, staff, faculty and visitors can recognize and appreciate the history and the ongoing contribution that Indigenous knowledge and relationships make to our institution, to Canada and to the communities around us.
Indigenization will foster a greater understanding of how we can contribute to ensuring that the College becomes a place where Indigenous knowledge, ways of teaching and learning, and responsibility to the land and environment are learned, celebrated and respected.
At this point, the Okanagan College Indigenization planning process is in its engagement phase and looks to respectfully and inclusively engage Indigenous communities and organizations to meet their educational needs and aspirations. This Indigenization journey begins with meaningful relationships with the Indigenous people in whose homeland each campus is situated.
Accordingly, starting with our discussions with Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc communities, extending out into a comprehensive list of internal and external groups, what we hope to achieve is a deeper understanding of our role as a College within the web of people, animals and the natural world. The actions that we will take will contribute to our relationships within our community of learners and will help establish a stronger and more inclusive extended family network.
We have taken some steps forward already as we continue to work with and learn from Indigenous communities and we will now be looking at what other concepts we need to understand and what actions we can take to develop a larger strategic plan. To do this, we will engage further with Indigenous communities, students, staff, faculty, leadership and all of our partners in education.
During the upcoming phases of the Okanagan College Indigenization plan there will be meetings and community gatherings to discuss the needs of Indigenous communities. These meetings and community gatherings will help shape the direction that Okanagan College Indigenization will take.
Educational institutions have been predicated on knowledge production and reproduction in a way that has been exclusive, and in many ways destructive to Indigenous peoples. Okanagan College respectfully recognizes that our Indigenization planning process is primarily a summary of thoughts and perspectives to date. Ultimately, it is intended to be a starting place for further dialogue and engagement as we expand and elaborate. We anticipate that as our knowledge and understanding grows as an institution, so too will relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous faculty, staff, students, and community members. In short, Okanagan College can be a site where Indigenous knowledge, languages and cultures are respected, alive and dynamic.
Join the journey
Okanagan College welcomes your transformative energy on this Indigenization journey. If you would like to have a facilitated planning workshop, or if you have thoughts, ideas, questions, concerns or recommendations, please complete the form below.
Protocol around land acknowledgement, Elder visits and welcome ceremonies
Wondering what the best practices are for land acknowledgements, event welcome ceremonies and Elder visits? Check out these guidelines and protocols as you incorporate Indigenous culture into your classroom and campus setting.
As a part of Okanagan College’s commitment to enhancing the participation of Indigenous learners, the College provides culturally relevant support services at each of the four campuses.
Indigenous convocation stoles
As part of the Indigenous OC initiative, Okanagan College is gifting Indigenous graduates with commemorative convocation stoles designed with pictographs from both the Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc nations.
Indigenous Services collaborated with local Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc Knowledge Keeper and Artist Les Louis to create beautiful Indigenous-designed stoles. With family lineage to both Lower Similkameen and Bonaparte Indian Bands, Louis says, “My creativity stems from many influences, but none so important as my culture, language, traditions and mother nature.” Respectively, these stoles were created with local Syilx Okanagan and Secwepemc designs, including pictographs of a canoe family and three eagles.
The three people in the canoe are symbolic of the three Okanagan College campuses that exist on the traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people. These three campuses, Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon, are connected by Okanagan Lake. The canoe family illustrates the collaboration and connection of faculty, staff and students at all campuses, paddling together on an educational journey. The three eagles are a Secwepemc design, representative of the Salmon Arm campus residing on the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc nation. The three eagles carry a special significance as eagles, and their feathers, are honoured and revered with the utmost respect. Eagles are also considered messengers, bridging a sacred and spiritual connection to the Creator.
For all Okanagan College convocation ceremonies, students and employees with Indigenous ancestry may choose to wear their traditional Indigenous regalia, in lieu of a gown and hood. Traditional regalia refers to the traditional and sacred clothing, accessories and pieces worn or carried by Indigenous peoples during various ceremonies, such as powwows, celebrations and pan-national gatherings. As regalia are personal and sacred outfits, it is appropriate to approach and inquire, however, please refrain from touching without consent.
Learn how you, as a student, can take part in Indigenization at Okanagan College.
Review tools and info available for instructors and staff to support Indigenization.
OC invites the community to join and contribute to our Indigenization journey.