"Welcome to the Traditional Territory of the Syilx People.

Wáy (Hello)

We are the Syilx-speaking people – the original inhabitants of a vast and beautiful territory that encompasses forests, grasslands, lakes and desert.

We invite you to discover all we have to offer, from unsurpassed opportunities for travel and recreation to unique cultural experiences and opportunities to partner in business development. This magazine outlines some of the possibilities for you to learn about, work with and experience the indigenous peoples of this land. We look forward to sharing our past and our future with you!

Bridging the past and the present through sustainable development

For thousands of years, the Okanagan people were self-reliant and well provided for through their own ingenuity and use of the gifts of the land and nature.
We lived united as a Nation with a whole economy, travelling the breadth and depth of our territory, hunting and fishing, growing andharvesting, crafting and trading to meet our needs. Colonization divided us from one another andfrom our way of life.
We were divided from the resources we relied upon, and our self-reliant and self-sufficient economy collapsed.

maskToday, we are emerging as a resilient and determined people, working to revitalize our communities and uplift our people to challenge the barriers we face and to restore a high quality of life and self-sufficiency. We believe that what we do today will impact the next seven generations and we wish to leave them a testimony of our commitment to business excellence and a legacy for which our people will be renowned.

Across the Okanagan Nation, our people are coming together to build our economies. A full time Business Development Unit provides dedicated resources to support capacity-building initiatives through workshops, conferences and collaborative working projects. We are engaging partners across the Nation and across cultures to develop sound socio-economic strategies and integrated approaches for developing and growing business enterprises for individual entrepreneurs, Bands and the Okanagan Nation.

Our goal is to maximize our economic development through an emerging model for regional cooperation by enabling a range of businesses to operate under the umbrella of a professional, business-minded, arms-length corporation that effectively manages resources and assets to the benefit of all partners.

As stewards and protectors of the land, we analyze business opportunities with environmental, social and economic development objectives that respect our traditional values and knowledge, resulting in sustainable development.

The Okanagan Nation is your gateway to each of the Alliance’s seven member bands. Come see what we have to offer. Together we can identify exciting opportunities for partnership development and discovery!

Okanagan Nation Alliance - t: 250.707.0095
Limləmt (Thank You)

Doing Business with the Okanagan People

Doing business in any culture is undertaken according to an established set of procedures, code of conduct, etiquette or behavior that facilitates effective communication while respecting the values and ideals of that culture. The business etiquette of the Okanagan Nation is the same as for any First Nation in Canada. Developing respectful relationships, initially from leader to leader, wherein each party has invested trust equity, is key. Done correctly this is a long-term investment. Consulting prior to establishing planning is essential and requires sufficient time to build a mutual understanding, mutual benefit, and internal capacity for engagement to consult effectively. There are many long-term benefits and opportunities for partners who wish to invest their interest, commitment and assets into building relationships with First Nations in BC. Recognizing this fact, BC businesses leaders over the last decade have begun working to establish relationships with BC First Nations and are realizing substantial benefits, while also changing the psychology of the marketplace. 21st century leaders like John Winter, President of the BC Chamber of Commerce stated in BC Business in May 2003 that ”The Throne Speech finally acknowledged the significant role that First Nations will play in the economic revival in BC in the next decade.”

Guiding principles for visiting or doing business with First Nation communities

child Terminology is important to have established correctly. One of the most common questions raised is how to reference Aboriginals. ‘Aboriginal’ is an umbrella term used for three distinct groups of peoples; First Nations, Inuit and Metis. The term First Nation generally refers to a ‘tribe’ of First Nation peoples. There are over 30 distinctly different First Nations in BC, living in 198 First Nation communities (also known as reserves or Indian Bands). The Syilx may be correctly referred to as the First Nation, native or indigenous peoples of this land.

When invited to meetings with Okanagan First Nations, always thank the First Nation whose traditional land the meeting is on before you speak for the first time. For example, if you are at a meeting in Kelowna, you would open your remarks by saying “I would like to thank Westbank First Nation for welcoming us to their traditional lands”.

Elders play an integral role in First Nation communities, especially in terms of preserving language and cultural traditions. Elders often provide an opening prayer at meetings, and educate those present with their wisdom on issues. Our Elders have taught us that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason: we should listen twice as much as we speak. It is considered very disrespectful to interrupt a person when they are speaking.

We trust that you will find this introduction to terminology and protocol, and this publication in general, helpful in creating understanding and building bridges to learn about, work with and experience Okanagan First Nations.