Okanagan College raises Penticton Indian Band and Okanagan Nation flags at Penticton campus

By College Relations | September 28, 2023

ona and pib flags raised, drummers singing in the background

A ceremony held today at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus welcomed the permanent raising of the Penticton Indian Band and Okanagan Nation flags.

Community members and representatives of the Penticton Indian Band (PIB), Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Okanagan College (OC) gathered today in ceremony to mark the occasion. The flags formally signify the College’s recognition of the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation, on whose lands the College resides in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon.

“As we gather here today, with signs of the change in season all around us, let’s take a moment to reflect on the significance of this ceremony and what it means as a post-secondary institution to raise the flags of the Penticton Indian Band and Okanagan Nation at our campus,” said Rhea Dupuis, Director of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation at the College. “Actions like this are critical to the advancement of Truth and Reconciliation at the College, and we are so grateful to see the community come together in this way to bear witness.”

Chantae Kruger, a student at the College, spoke about the impact the flags will have at the campus.

“As a Syilx person from the Penticton Indian Band, seeing these flags makes me feel more welcome to be here on campus,” said Kruger. “This is my first year attending Okanagan College, and I appreciate the Penticton Indian Band being represented by our flag. I am excited to see the efforts toward the Truth and Reconciliation movement.”

Okanagan College held similar flag raising ceremonies in 2019, when the Okanagan Nation flag was raised at the College’s Vernon and Kelowna campuses, and the Secwepemcúl̓ecw flag was raised the Salmon Arm campus.

“As we continue on the long journey towards true Truth and Reconciliation, building partnerships such as this provides opportunities for learning and better understanding, and the significance of the term ‘Truth and Reconciliation,’” said Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel. “The continuing relationship being carried forward between Okanagan College and the Penticton Band shows genuine commitment to make change and goes beyond just words. Although we have a long journey ahead to someday arrive at truthful reconciliation, we wish to acknowledge and thank Okanagan College for all their efforts and our ongoing strong relationship.”

Speaking at the event, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, described the significance of the event and the importance of relationships.

“Today's flag raising event by Okanagan College at the Penticton Campus represents an important milestone in its progressive relationship with the Sylix (Okanagan) Peoples,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. “I commend the hard work of so many good people who, over the years, made this important day possible.”

For 60 years, Okanagan College has been a vital part of the region, providing post-secondary education and training to thousands of students, and supporting social and economic growth. Committed to building meaningful, reciprocal relationships, the College continues to work with, listen to and learn from Indigenous communities.

“With gratitude, Okanagan College recognizes the traditional territory where we learn, work and come together as an OC community every day, by raising the Penticton Indian Band and Okanagan Nation flags at the Penticton campus,” says Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College. “Raising these flags is a statement of our commitment to reconciliation and to continuing to build strong, lasting relationships with Indigenous partners here and throughout the region.”

As part of the ceremony, Penticton Indian Band (PIB) members sang the Okanagan Song while Chantae Kruger and Kiana Greyeyes, both OC students, raised the flags one by one.

During the weeks leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30, Okanagan College has offered several opportunities for the OC community to reflect and learn how to advance the process of Truth and Reconciliation. To learn more about reconciliation at Okanagan College, please visit okanagan.bc.ca/reconciliation.

Tags: Truth and Reconciliation



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