Helping tradition and species at risk

Penticton Indian Band knowledge keeper leads tour of special land

Richard Armstrong of the Penticton Indian Band explains the traditional uses of rosehips and their importance to the endangered yellow-breasted chat.

For Richard Armstrong and Michael Bezener, trying to undo the impact of development on a special piece of land, west of the Okanagan River channel is a matter of tradition and revival.

Armstrong, a traditional ecological knowledge keeper who works at the En’owkin Centre, and Bezener, a conservation biologist with the En’owkin Centre, led a group of volunteers through the piece of land known as ECOmmunity Place.

Along the way Armstrong stopped to point out the invasive species such as creeping vines that choke the native plants.

Restoring the land is important to the traditional ways of the Okanagan Nation and to Armstrong.

“I was brought up by my elders to know the old ways and to respect the land, and the prayers, protocols and ceremonies,” Armstrong said.

“It’s my life’s work.”

The piece of land represents a reasonably healthy example of riparian habitat and is home to about 20 species at risk, including the tiger salamander, spade-foot toad and great-basin gopher snake, and contains one of the last significant intact stands of black cottonwood trees in the South Okanagan valley, explained Bezener.

In addition to the cottonwood trees, one of the plants on the menu for the day was the wild rose, specifically rosehips, the fruit of the rose.

For millennia, aboriginal peoples have used rosehips to make tea in the winter, explained Armstrong.

“It’s a very important berry in our culture,” he said.

The rosehips are also key to the survival of a small population of the endangered yellow-breasted chat.

There are about 50 pairs in B.C. and up to six breeding pairs on the ECOmmunity Place locatee land where they nest almost exclusively in thickets of wild rose, said Bezener.

That is why the volunteers gathered with Armstrong and Bezener, to collect rosehips for later planting in the hopes of increasing the extent of wild rose habitat in the area.

At the same time, helping to recover the land, said Bezener, also helps the En’owkin Centre fulfill its underlying mandate to recover, revitalize and perpetuate Okanagan language, culture, community and environment.

“So much of the language and culture comes from the land itself,” Bezener said.

“So if we are going to fulfill our mandate, we need a land base from which to do that work.”

 

 

Just Posted

Penticton athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Penticton Vees look to playoffs after Feb. 16 win against Langley

The team needs to win two of their last three games to claim the division title

Summerland’s Justin Kripps wins bobsleigh world cup event

Canadian team picks up their first four-man bobsleigh win on the world cup circuit

Here’s your first look at Penticton’s proposed budget for 2019

The city is recommending a 3.6 per cent tax increase, additional increase to business tax multiplier

Businesses directly impacted by Hwy. 97 closure

Members of the Penticton Wine Country Chamber of Commerce faced late deliveries. no staff, etc.

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Okanagan College professor awarded for promoting financial literacy

Leigh Sindlinger received a Distinguished Service Award for inspiring financial literacy in youth

Poll: What do you think of Family Day weekend’s move?

Until this year, Family Day has fallen on the second Monday in February

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read