A canopy of trees at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park offered attendees of the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Salmon Feast a break from the outside world, be it for a day or the whole weekend.
The annual event in Okanagan Falls celebrates the return of sc’win (Okanagan Sockeye Salmon) to Syilx territory, and ran from Friday to Sunday in the park.
While some camped out, there was plenty of parking for those who chose to head in for a morning or afternoon and head back home at the end of the day.
On offer were numerous vendors, some selling Indigenous art, others informing of various programming, including the Burrowing Owl Society, which is attempting to repopulate the small raptor in the region, and the ONA’s transition houses.
Though the weather turned from cool but sunny to overcast on Sunday, the small festival had a jovial tone, with people not just of the Syilx Nation, but of varying heritages in attendance.
Speakers included Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie, with many speaking to the importance of respecting the cycle of the salmon in B.C.
While there was a nostalgia to many of the speeches, there were also sober tones, as topics shifted to diminishing salmon stocks, the urgency of climate change and continuing injustices for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.
One speaker sought to remind attendees of the staggering number of children in Canada’s foster care system, last gauged by Statistics Canada at just under 50 per cent — “and that number’s not going down,” the speaker said.
And to top it all off, a delicious feast of salmon, barbecued by, among others, Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas, along with salads, vegetables and desserts.