Five Government Partners
The work of the Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative builds on the unique values, responsibilities, and authorities of each of the five governments: the Syilx Okanagan Nation, Ktunaxa Nation, Secwépemc Nation, Canada and British Columbia. Please click on a logo or scroll down to see more about each of these five partners and their contributions to this Initiative.
Lower Arrow Lake, Burton, BC. Photo: T Marshall/CRSRI
The concept of stłtałt has governed the Syilx Okanagan People since we were brought into being. We were placed in a sacred manner upon this earth and charged to care for all our relations within our homelands and in return we would be looked after; our captikʷɬ teach us these values, this is our stłtałt, Aboriginal Title and Rights.
Stłtałt is an unchanging truth; it is a responsibility of reciprocity that the Syilx people continue to honour, exercise and act upon. Our yəlyílmixʷm (Chiefs), leaders and all Syilx peoples have a responsibility to our homelands. This obligation cannot be given away; it is the foundation of who we are as a Tribal People, and of our continued existence on this land.
The Syilx Okanagan people have always governed the land according to principles that are embedded in our knowledge, stories, teachings, ceremonies, medicines, dances, and the arts, all of which derive from the diverse tmixʷ (all life forms), ecosystems, landscapes and water. These principles carry a sacred inherent responsibility to care for tmxʷulaxʷ (land) and siwɬkʷ (water).
The nsyilxcən word commonly used to refer to all living things is tmixʷ. This includes everything alive – the land, water, animals, people, plants and so on. The Syilx Okanagan concept of land encompasses more than the physical geography of place, it includes the spiritual connections of everything living on and within it. Everything is interconnected and inseparable. The Syilx Okanagan language, nsyilxcen, and the captikwł transmit knowledge about natural laws and what people need to learn in order to survive on the land.
Captikwł is the intergenerational history and oral record of the Syilx People. Our cultural ways of knowing have been passed down through our captikwł. Within these stories are found our values, our protocols, and our laws that reveal truths about the meaning of being Syilx.
The foundation of Syilx resource management and world knowledge is the use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). The Syilx have a rich oral history of ecological processes in the region that dates back thousands of years, and TEK is often directly related to captikwł.
Taken together, the captikwł define and inform our rights and responsibilities to the siwłkw to the land, and to one another. Syilx Okanagan storytellers have always told, and continue to tell, captikʷɬ (oral history) about the sʔaltʼikʷt and Columbia River and how Sen’k’lip (Coyote) brought the salmon up the Columbia River. Traditionally, several species of salmon, including chinook, sockeye, and steelhead migrated up the Columbia River. The upper Columbia was a storehouse of many types of food, but in particular provided us with some our richest fishing grounds–and in particular that of sc’win (sockeye salmon).
kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ is a nsyilxcen term that translates as “to cause to come back.” With the support of our elders and sacred teachings, all seven Syilx Okanagan Nation member communities and the Colville Confederated Tribes have worked with great conviction for decades to restore salmon, and in particular the Okanagan sockeye salmon, back to the Columbia River systems.
When it comes to our responsibility to the tmixʷ, our Syilx Okanagan traditional ecological knowledge systems inform our interactions on the land – balanced with western science.
The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) has been persistent in ensuring that we are restoring and rejuvenating the habitats and ecosystems of the Upper Columbia in the most dynamic way possible, engaging both traditional knowledge and cutting edge science to contribute to protecting and advancing a bio-diverse environment. ONA’s research and management objectives are directed by TEK, and, when necessary and to ensure proper guidance, the en’owkin’wixw process is utilized. This process is a consensus-based practice that teaches us how to come together to find common ground.
For more info, see the Syilx Okanagan Nation homepage.
Columbia River headwaters at Canal Flats, BC. Photo: Columbia Basin Trust
The Ktunaxa Nation Council provides input to this Initiative on behalf of the Ktunaxa Nation. The vision of the Ktunaxa Nation Council is: “Strong, healthy citizens and communities, speaking our languages and celebrating who we are and our history in our ancestral homelands, working together, managing our lands and resources as a self-sufficient, self-governing Nation.”
The mandate of the Ktunaxa Lands’ Sector is to ensure that the lands and resources within the Traditional Territory of Ktunaxa Nation are effectively managed and protected for the benefit of the members, communities and government of the Ktunaxa Nation.
The Ktunaxa Lands’ Sector works cooperatively with the citizens, communities and government of the Ktunaxa Nation and other groups to provide quality services that ensure the highest standards of care are provided for the lands and resources within the Traditional Territory of the Ktunaxa Nation. Grounded in Ktunaxa Nation culture, traditional knowledge and the best available science, these services address the diverse and evolving needs of the Ktunaxa Nation.
The Ktunaxa Nation has been working to achieve restoration of anadromous salmon since at least 1956, when Chief and Council of the Columbia Lake Indian Band (now ?akisqnuk First Nation) wrote to the federal government requesting redress for the loss of anadromous salmon. Chinook salmon used to be harvested and spawn in the Columbia River directly adjacent to the principal ?akisqnuk First Nation reserve and at other downstream locations. The Ktunaxa, Okanagan/Syilx, and Secwepemc Nations initiated more formal work on salmon restoration in the early 1990s with the formation of the Canadian Columbia River Inter-tribal Fisheries Commission (CRIFIC.)
The Ktunaxa Nation Council consists of the Chiefs and Councillors from each of the four Ktunaxa communities. The Ktunaxa Nation Executive Council (Chiefs of each of the four Ktunaxa communities and chairs of each of the five sector Councils) provides strategic direction to the operations of the Ktunaxa Nation Council. The Ktunaxa Lands and Resources Council provides ongoing direction for Ktunaxa Nation work on salmon restoration, including in the implementation of this Initiative.
For more info, see the Ktunaxa Nation homepage.
Columbia River near Invermere, BC. Photo: Adam Jones/Flickr Creative commons
On behalf of the nine signatory communities of the Secwépemc Nation, the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council provides coordination and technical services to this Initiative. Our mission is to be unified, self-governing, prosperous Secwépemc communities guided by Secwépemc values, language and culture and sustained by the resources of Secwépemcύl’ecw.
Secwépemc translates to “the spread out people. ” Our ancestors have lived in the interior of British Columbia since time immemorial. At the time of contact, there were four Secwépemc divisions and 32 bands; today, there are 17 contemporary communities that comprise the Secwépemc Nation.
Traditionally, we lived as a self-governing Nation grouped into divisions or campfires. Although our bands were separate and independent, a common language, culture and belief system united us. The language of the Secwépemc people is known as Secwépemctsín. Secwépemctsín comes from the land and is a reflection of Secwépemc identity. The Secwépemc Nation is a political alliance that regulates use of the land and resources and protects our territories (known collectively as Secwépemcύl’ecw).
The four pillars of Secwépemc society, as identified by Secwépemc members from across Secwépemcύl’ecw, are: Secwépemc Laws and Jurisdiction; Secwépemctsín (Language); Tmicw (Land and Territory); and Letwílc (Healing). Just as the four pillars of a pit-house provide structure and stability to the home, so do these pillars provide structure and stability to the people. A fifth priority area, Aboriginal Title and Rights, is seen as the overarching roof and its many beams and structures which connect to form the protective house which safeguards the people within.
Our assertion of Indigenous title to our land and waters is grounded in Secwépemc Law and expressed in the concept of our obligation to care for and protect the land and all the resources within Secwépemcύl’ecw. Salmon have always been of critical importance to the spiritual, cultural, and social well-being of our people. Our relationship with salmon runs deeper than merely as a source of food. The complete loss of migrating salmon from the upper Columbia portion of Secwépemcύl’ecw has had profound impacts on our culture, economy, health and way of life. As the first and true Yecweminmen (caretakers) of the land and resources, demonstrating leadership in the re-establishment of salmon to the upper Columbia is our sacred responsibility.
For more info, see the Secwépemc Nation homepage.
Railway bridge over Columbia River near Revelstoke, BC. Photo by J/Flickr Creative Commons
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), on behalf of the Government of Canada, is committed to supporting and working together on the actions specified in the Letter of Agreement (LoA). In doing so, we continue to be committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples, one based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership, as well as to the Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
In carrying out the activities under the LoA, the Department’s work will be guided by a number of key pieces of legislation including the Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, and Oceans Act, as well as any associated regulations. DFO will adhere to the stated principles in this Strategic Direction Framework, as well as to the values and behaviours that are stated in the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.
For more info, see Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region.
Castlegar, BC – confluence of Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. Photo: Province of BC
The Province of British Columbia is represented in this Initiative by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). Following the principles and intent of the Letter of Agreement, FLNRORD is committed to collaborating with the three Indigenous Nations and the federal government in supporting this important work. We are guided by a commitment to reconciliation and meaningful collaboration with Indigenous peoples that respects rights and interests. We are guided by the commitments to support creative collaboration and to seek solutions that are part of sustainable freshwater ecosystem management.
The Province’s new Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) legislation, policies that support collaborative management, the Wildlife Act and associated regulations, along with other statutory responsibilities, guide and enable our approach. FLNRORD recognizes the unique opportunity in the work of the LoA, and the importance of transparency and partnership in our collective success.
For more info, see the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.