Richard Armstrong, Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keeper at En’owkin Centre, thanks Anne Kirkpatrick of the Telus Thompson Okanagan Community Board for the $20,000 the group donated to the centre. Steve Kidd/Western News

Video: En’owkin project gets $20,000 boost

The En’owkin Centre on the Penticton Indian Reserve is working to restore culture and habitat

It is no easy task restoring even a small piece of land back to its natural state.

That was evident at the En’owkin Centre’s student luncheon this week, which members of the Telus Thompson Okanagan Community Board attended to deliver a $20,000 grant supporting the centre’s multiyear project to engage local youth in efforts to restore rare and endangered habitats that support the recovery of species-at-risk and replenishment of Indigenous foods.

Micheal Bezener, ECOmmunity director with En’owkin, said the money will help with the plan to restore habitat at the ECOmmunity Place Locatee Lands on the Penticton Indian Reserve. The project aims to engage at least 1,500 community members to assist with propagation and planting of at least 20,000 Indigenous plants over three years.

Bezener hopes the youth that are going to work with the project will also be mentors to the students, kindergarten to Grade 12, that come to the site every year to learn about Syilx culture, language, community and the Okanagan environment.

“It is really important at this time that all the kids throughout the territory come to recognize the importance of this place, the plants and animals, cultural connections to place,” said Bezener.

Richard Armstrong, Traditional Ecological Knowledge Keeper from En’owkin Centre, said the youth need to understand that without the land, we wouldn’t have anything.

“There is nothing that you can think of that didn’t come from the land, including concrete and metal,” said Armstrong. “We can put more youth on the land to really appreciate the connection we have to the land.”

A special focus of the project is to provide employment, volunteer and educational opportunities for Syilx youth and youth-at-risk, ages 6-18, to inspire youth to bring healing to the tmxʷulaʔxʷ( the land) and the tmixw (all living beings, including human beings). Project participants will receive basic training in both western scientific and Syilx Traditional Ecological Knowledge protocols and practices and will utilize both traditional and contemporary technologies to accomplish the project’s habitat restoration and enhancement objectives.

Armstrong said there is a special kind of joy watching kids experience the natural environment, and noted they’ve already had success in beginning to restore the monarch butterfly.

“We watched the monarch butterfly come back from nothing. We only had one monarch butterfly. We planted special plants they could lay eggs on, now we have monarch butterflies coming back,” said Armstrong, explaining the butterfly stretches back into Syilx legend and culture.

“Our people talk about a time in our territory when the monarch butterfly was plentiful,” he said, adding that when working with youth, he likes to use modern technology to help bring the legends to life for the students.

He asks students to use the internet to call up an image of the monarch butterfly and look closely at the markings on the edges of the wings.

“”On the top part, if you look closely, you will see man’s footprints on the little white strip. On the bottom edge of the wings, you will see the tracks of the four-legged animals, our four-legged parents,” said Armstrong, adding that $20,000 is going to go a long way to help continue the work of connecting kids to language and culture.

The project will also help advance the En’owkin Centre’s mandate to recover, revitalize and perpetuate Syilx (Okanagan) culture, language, community and environment. Community and youth involvement in the ongoing caretaking of the land and all living beings is a vital part of ensuring the future health and well-being of all Okanagan residents and the region’s unique biodiversity.

To-date, additional funding contributions for this project have been provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, Heritage Canada, and the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen. Additional cash and in-kind donations to this project are most welcome.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summerland approves solar project

Despite community opposition, council voted 4-3 for Cartwright Mountain location

Two positive COVID-19 cases at Oliver farm

The risk of exposure to the general public related to this farm is considered to be low

Oliver Town Hall closed to public as staffer shows COVID-19 symptoms

One staff member at Oliver Town Hall is being tested for coronavirus

Penticton woman struck by mystery bullet

Woman suffers no major injuries; RCMP without any leads, investigation continues

Village of Keremeos looks to dismantle systemic racism

Mayor says the time is right to deconstruct racist institutions

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Police search for suspect in assault on woman in downtown Kelowna

Kelowna police received a report a woman had been assaulted by an unknown man on July 12

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Horoscopes for the week of July 13

Weekly horoscopes by Morgan Fava

Police keep eye on motorbike gang in Kelowna for poker run

The Throttle Lockers Motorcycle Club Poker Run was to have taken place on July 11

Prohibited driver ticketed after rollover on Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Jeep Cherokee hit rock face before rolling multiple times

COVID-19 exposure on Kelowna flight

Interior Health has capacity to test individuals who need it, but is reminding everyone that testing is not required for those who do not have symptoms

Most Read