Okanagan Indian Band officially opened their arbour Saturday

A place to gather

Members of the Okanagan Indian Band gathered at Komasket Park Saturday to celebrate the opening of the new arbour.

Held on the shores of Okanagan Lake, band members and the general public, participated in a variety of events to mark the special occasion.

Chief Byron Louis said the area will be utilized to hold a events for generations to come.

“It can be for individuals, families and for the community,” said Louis. “It's another point where people can come together, especially families because it has been so tough for the last three years.”
Louis said the restrictions brought on by COVID impacted the band's ability to even hold proper ceremonies for those who have passed.

“We weren't able to have closure and some of our people are talking about that now to have gatherings to complete that,” Louis said. “People want to get back into what we took for granted.”

Louis said the arbour is a significant addition to the park that already has a pit house, ball diamonds, play area and other amenities for the North Okanagan community.

Through costume and dance, Vernon's Sen'Klip Native Theatre Company brings Indigenous stories to life

Telling Indigenous stories

June is National Indigenous History Month, as well as an opportunity to highlight the history of the Sen'Klip Native Theatre Company and their contributions towards the advancement of Indigenous theatre in Canada.

When the Sen’Klip Native Theatre Company was founded in Vernon in 1988, they were one of only a handful across all of Canada.

The company was based on ancestral storytelling practices, and provided an outlet for the expression of Indigenous cultural values and social concerns.

The company’s founder, Lynn Phelan, had previously worked with an Indigenous theatre company in Vancouver before returning to her hometown of Vernon.

In 1987, she started the Native Youth Summer Theatre with Ruby Alexis, a member of the Okanagan Indian Band.

The company later changed its name to the Sen’Klip Native Theatre Company, after the nsyilxcen word for “Coyote.” To both the Syilx and Secwepemc People, Coyote is considered a trickster, creator, teacher, and entertainer.

In 1989, the company produced its first professional play, “Shadow Warrior,” which toured B.C. Around that time, the company also began developing its “Coyote Tales” series, based on the legends of Sen’Klip. This series was on-going throughout the years, and based on themes of respect for the Earth and its creatures.

The next few years witnessed the continued growth of the company, in both size and popularity. 1992 was a particularly successful year, and saw the company embark on a valley-wide elementary school tour, develop an experimental traditional summer camp (later featured at the PNE), and attend an Ecotourism conference in Whistler.

The Sen’Klip Native Theatre Company ran for a decade, and during that time, they continuously demonstrated the power of performing arts to serve as a major method of cross-cultural communication.

There will be a display of costumes from the Sen’klip production of “How Turtle Set the Animals Free,” based on the Syilx captik??, at the Vernon Museum in June.

Costumes and masks were created by Sen’klip founding director, and renowned Syilx artist, Barbara Marchand.

Gwyn Evans is the research and communications co-ordinator with the Museum and Archives of Vernon.

North Okanagan Hospice Society fundraiser at Vernon's Polson Park June 5

Take a hike for hospice

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Hike for Hospice has returned to Vernon's Polson Park.

Walkers and runners of all ages - and their four-legged friends - are encouraged to take part to raise awareness and donate funds for North Okanagan Hospice Society programs.

In-person registration begins at 9:15 a.m. June 5 at the Polson Park Pavilion.

The event will also feature entertainment, food trucks, warm up exercises and a short ceremony.

Participants can then complete the scenic two-km route twice if they are able to and complete the four-km hike.

Funds raised from the hike support operations and programs at the Vernon Hospice H ouse where those at the end of life and their loved ones are cared for in a 12-bed home.

NOHS also offers respite care as grief and bereavement counselling and programs.

NOHS relies heavily on the generosity of North Okanagan businesses and residents for funding.

The Hike for Hospice is co-ordinated in part by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, the national association that provides leadership in hospice palliative and end-of-life care in Canada.

Team and individual registration can be done in person, through the NOHS website, or on the day of the event at Polson Park.

North Okanagan Community Life Society auction and raffle features numerous items

NOCLS auction starts

There is even more to the Summer Fun Experience Auction this year.

The North Okanagan Community Life Society has added the Father's Day Extravaganza Raffle and 50/50 draw to the auction that is now live online.

The Father's Day Raffle starts at $5 a ticket and participants can win an exclusive salmon/halibut three-night, four-day fishing getaway, a day trip sturgeon fishing adventure or a rod/reel and goodies basket.

The 50/50 draw can climb up into the thousands of dollars and also starts at $5.

The raffle and 50/50 draw will run until June 9 and the auction will close bidding on June 5.

The auction this year has several sponsors including Zeballos Top Guide Fishing, Kal Tire, Vernon Dodge, Elements Adventure Company, Pinnacles Suites and Timix Wellness, who have donated some numerous items for bidding.

The auction this year boasts some adventures such as sky diving, fishing trips, gift baskets, wine tastings, kids summer toys, SilverStar packages, Revelstoke Mountain Resort passes, canoe lessons and more.

For more information, click here.

Hello Okanagan checks out Vernon Comicon and other similar events across the Valley

Get your nerd on

Vernon's Peter Kaz and David Scarlatescu are back with the latest episode of Hello Okanagan.

This week, the Hello Okanagan crew get their nerd on at Vernon Comicon and look at similar events across the Okanagan.

Each week, Kaz and Scarlatescu talk with Okanagan business leaders, debate issues facing the region, and promote the Valley as a whole.

The videos will be aired each Saturday, and you can see them here on Castanet.

If you any questions or suggestions, contact them via the Hello Okanagan Facebook page.

North Okanagan Shuswap School District to appeal WorkSafe BC fine

District appeals fine

The North Okanagan Shuswap school district is appealing a fine from WorkSafe BC.

Earlier this month, School District 83 was fined $204,814 for safety violations.

According to WorkSafeBC, the district was conducting security upgrades at one of its school locations and a WorkSafeBC inspection determined drilling work to install wiring had disturbed drywall and vermiculite, both identified as asbestos-containing materials, on the building's hazardous materials survey.

Shortly after the fine was issued, the district launched an appeal of the ruling.

A statement from the district said SD 83 has been fined by WorkSafeBC as it determined an SD83 contractor, who installed security shutters at Bastion Elementary, did not follow an agreed-to work plan and breached a WorkSafe work practice for handling asbestos.

District management is asking for a review of the decision and wants to assure the public the district is committed to providing a safe and healthy learning and working environment for its students and staff. Supt. Donna Kriger wants to reassure the Bastion School community that there was no potential threat to students and school-based staff as the work was being done over Winter Break.

Due to repeated vandalism at the Bastion Elementary School, the SD83 Operations Department determined protective security shutters would be installed to mitigate further damage.

A contractor for the project was selected based on the selection criteria of experience and price to supply and install the security shutters.

According to the district, part of the contract award process was a full review of the hazardous materials survey including information regarding the potential presence of asbestos. The work was contracted out, and due to the potential presence of asbestos, a hazardous material survey was conducted in accordance with district policy.

During the pre-work planning meeting between district staff and the contractor, and after completion of the hazardous material survey, the district management team developed and communicated the specific work plan the external contractor was to follow during the installation.

“Regrettably the external contractor did not adhere to the agreed work plan and undertook unauthorized work, which involved drilling three small holes (three-eights of an inch in diameter) in areas that were not properly assessed. As a result, a potentially serious incident occurred, and SD83 safe work procedures were not adhered to,” the district statement said.

“A district trades person who had been assigned to the project immediately identified that the contractor had deviated from the agreed to work plan. Senior management was notified, immediate steps were taken to secure the area (including engaging a qualified hazardous material remediation contractor), and WorkSafe BC was informed.”

Samples were taken from the disturbed area and forwarded to a qualified laboratory to determine if asbestos was present. Laboratory reports have confirmed that no asbestos was disturbed. As an added precaution, both areas of potential exposure were contained and thoroughly cleaned by a qualified hazardous material remediation contractor.

After conducting an investigation, WorkSafeBC assessed a significant penalty of $204,814.95 against SD83. The district has requested WorkSafe review this decision due to concerns regarding accuracy of evidence relied upon to determine the penalty.

“It is clear additional steps are necessary to prevent any future contractor noncompliance with district policy. District leadership has engaged a review of our safety management system specifically focused on contractor adherence to SD83 policy as well as our asbestos management program. We apologize for any angst this has caused and intend to learn from this experience and improve our safety management systems,” said Kriger.

Vernon council to consider Official Community Plan amendments for major waterfront resort

Resort plan back on agenda

Official Community Plan amendments for a major development on the shore of Okanagan Lake in Vernon will come before council on Monday.

The Port Okanagan project would include a resort hotel, residential and commercial development over 6.35 hectares (15.7 acres)

Avillia Developments says it would include a waterfront hotel at the corner of Okanagan Landing and Lakeshore roads, and multi-family residential and commercial on the other side of Lakeshore.

The proposal would also include a conference centre, park space and improved public waterfront access while also protecting a sensitive wetland area.

Council is expected to support the necessary rezonings after heaping praise on the project in March.

"Port Okanagan would offer a unique opportunity to increase public enjoyment of the lake while creating a tourist and resident destination, as eqvisioned in the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre Plan and Official Community Plan," a report to council states.

ln total, 45% of the property would be a protected riparian area, open green space and park.

The development proposal consists of a mix of low-rise to mid-rise buildings up to 10 storeys above grade, with underground parking structures as well as at-grade parking.

Public engagement on the project has been strong, with 229 visitors to the city's website and 150 residents at an open house.

About half of those at the open house expressed enthusiasm for the project as a recreational and tourist amenity.

The remaining half expressed concerns about changes to neighbourhood character and loss of natural habitat.

The most prominent concern was the proposed height of the project, followed by increased traffic, preservation of fish and wildlife habitat, public accessibility and adequate parking, availability of active transportation corridors on site, impacts to water quality of Okanagan Lake, and maintaining the natural floodplain.

Results from an survey mirrored verbal feedback at the open house.

A report on traffic impacts indicates a future roundabout at the intersection.

Footage from 1946 is thought to be from the Vernon area

76-year-old mystery reel

Today's trip back in time is a bit of a mystery.

Vernon-based historian and videographer Francois Arseneault has come into possession of footage from what he believes to be the Vernon area in 1946.

“The topography and lakes appear to be a match, what makes identifying it challenging is the lack of homes and structures in the background,” he said. “Vernon has grown dramatically from 5000 to nearly 50,000 people in the intervening 76 years.”

Arseneault found the reel a couple of years ago locally and it shows a family with young children enjoying life along the lakes, Okanagan or Kalamalka Lake or Long lake as it was known then.

“It’s entirely possible their descendants are still in the vicinity. This is one reel I really would like to reconnect with the family as the young children are likely in their late 70s or early 80s,” he said.

“I’ve also received a special request from one of our viewers, Brent Morgan, who is hoping to locate any film reels, likely CBC, featuring his grandfather Ken McConnell who was a long-time Vancouver sports broadcaster. If you know the location of any film reels, please let me know and I’ll pass it on.”

Today's episode will be the last vintage video until September.

Arseneault is always looking for more information on the vintage footage he digs up, and he encourages people to add their input in the comments section on his Youtube page.

Arseneault has an extensive collection of vintage footage, and he is always looking for more.

He currently has more than 1,100 episodes from 54 countries dating back to 1917.

Anyone who may have old 16 mm or 8 mm film footage is invited to email Arseneault at [email protected]

Vernon's Home Depot to raise funds for NOYFSS to help at-risk youth

Open the door to help

Vernon's Home Depot store will be opening the door to help local at-risk and homeless youth.

From May 31 until June 26, customers can donate online at or at the store’s checkout.

All local donations will help North Okanagan Youth and Family Services provide free educational groups and counselling for youth in high-risk situations, including living on their own or facing homelessness.

Such supports often help solidify proper and safe housing, giving youth in the community the best opportunity to succeed, despite the circumstances of their situation.

The Home Depot Canada Foundation will also kickstart fundraising by donating $2,000 on behalf of each store across the country.

“We are so thankful for the support from The Home Depot Canada Foundation and our local Vernon Home Depot. Since 2014, The Orange Door Project fundraiser has been a significant partner in helping us provide at-risk-youth in the North Okanagan with a non-threatening environment, encouraging positive engagement, skill building and reduces high-risk behaviours,” said NOYFSS executive director Dean Francks.

Across the country, the campaign supports 124 organizations committed to preventing and ending youth homelessness.

Since 2013, the foundation has invested more than $50 million towards youth-serving organizations, working together with community partners across the country. It has pledged to invest $125 million by 2030 to help prevent and end youth homelessness in Canada.

NOYFSS is a community social services agency that aspires to strengthen the family through healthy relationships.

It provides a broad range of social programs for children, youth and families.

Vernon author to sign copies of inspirational book

Author offers hope

A Vernon man is sharing his journey of mental health and faith in a new book.

Adam Carey wrote A Letter to Help Endure to help others going through challenging times.

“Have you ever suffered and struggled to understand why God would allow it? Have you ever seriously considered leaving the church because of your lack of answers? How have you suffered? Fill in the blank, what is it for you?” Carey asks.

In his book, Carey shares about his journey with mental illness and how he has learned to endure. Its purpose is to encourage and help others get through difficult life circumstances.

The faith-based book is not just a set of benign principles, its 18 points can considerably change things in life for the better.

It doesn't guarantee a cure, but can help readers find peace, hope and ultimately a trust in God despite their circumstances.

Such things don't only apply to those with mental illness, but to any form of suffering and pain, says Carey.

Published by Christian Faith Publishing, Carey’s book offers readers a hopeful and encouraging message when it seems as though nothing is going right.

Carey will be at Kennedy's Parable Christian Bookstore in Kelowna on Saturday, where he will be signing books between 11 a.m and 3 p.m.

Books can be purchased for $20 cash or ordered from Kennedy's Parable as well on Amazon, Apple iTunes, Barnes and Noble, or Indigo/Chapters websites.

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