The Okanagan Indian Band has secured funds needed to build a new $900,000 cultural arbor, replacing the one it had built more than 30 years ago. This will be the backdrop to many cultural events including powwows. Pictured: OKIB grass dancer Dyawen Louis. (Adrian Brijbassi for Vacay.ca)

The Okanagan Indian Band has secured funds needed to build a new $900,000 cultural arbor, replacing the one it had built more than 30 years ago. This will be the backdrop to many cultural events including powwows. Pictured: OKIB grass dancer Dyawen Louis. (Adrian Brijbassi for Vacay.ca)

Okanagan Indian Band to build $900K cultural arbor

OKIB received a government grant covering 75 per cent of the project, to be completed in October

The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) has secured funds needed to build a new $900,000 cultural arbor, replacing the one it had built more than 30 years ago.

On Thursday, April 16, the OKIB announced it received a grant from the federal and provincial governments that covers 75 per cent of the project’s cost, putting the band in position to replace the community gathering place.

OKIB members constructed the original arbor in 1988 in Komasket Park — the site of an Okanagan-Syilx pre-contact village and fishing spot. The band added a traditional pit house to the park in 2009.

“Since its decommission two years ago, it has been greatly missed,” Chief Byron Louis said of the old arbor.

“When first constructed it was the largest and grandest facility at that time. It’s a facility that made the community proud because the people put their communal efforts into building a focal meeting place.”

The new facility will be constructed at the same site as the original and will be used as a meeting place for powwows, ceremonies, youth and Elder gatherings, cultural events and workshops.

“I am confident that the reconstructed arbor will also help enhance our community’s attractiveness and pride,” Chief Louis said.

The remaining $225,000 — or 25 per cent of the project cost — will be covered by OKIB.

Construction is expected to begin in the near future, and a completion date is scheduled for October 2020.

The funding comes from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program via the British Columbia Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure stream.

“As we hopefully emerge from quarantine and social isolation later this year, this kind of community gathering place will be even more important,” Chief Louis said.

“The construction jobs this and other infrastructure projects bring will also play an important role in helping to revive the economy.”

The OKIB extended thanks to its corporate partners, including BC Hydro and the Firelight Group.

READ MORE: Okanagan Indian Band asks visitors to ‘stay away’ during COVID-19

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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