Out of the 46,000 acres of land owned by the Penticton Indian Band, approximately one half of the land base is under forest cover. Sn’pink’tn signed a Forest and Range Opportunity Agreement with the Provincial Government in 2007 and has begun managing two Non-Replaceable Forest Licenses (NRFL) within the Okanagan Nation traditional territory, actively harvesting beetle infested pine and spruce. As well, Sn’pink’tn has a working partnership with Gorman Brothers Lumber Ltd, developing cutting permits and assisting with timber cruising.

RR2 S80 C19
Penticton, BC V2A 6J7

Phone: 250-493-5488
Email: [email protected]

Preface

The syilx nation holds un-extinguished aboriginal title to the land and resources within our traditional territory. The syilx people of snpntk’tn (Penticton Indian Band) have taken care of our lands and all living things since time immemorial. It is the application of our laws, our language and our ecosystem management strategies that has led, directly, to thousands of years of resilience, harmony with the land and adaptation within our Territory.

During the time of st’elsqilxʷ the syilx people were wished here by the Creator, kʷuləncútn. Humans did not have the natural instincts that were inherent in all tmixʷ which allowed them to survive and live upon and with tmxʷulaxʷ. Instead kʷuləncútn gave our first peoples memories; memories that have been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years.

The first peoples were born without fur to keep them warm, without claws and sharp teeth to protect themselves and without agility and speed to catch food. Recognizing this, the animal people sacrificed themselves so that the syilx people could survive within the world. The memories given by kʷuləncútn and the sacrifices made by the animal people allowed the first generations of syilx people to live in balance with tmxʷulaxʷ and tmixʷ. By way of these gifts, a covenant was made: in exchange for the knowledge shared by kʷuləncútn and the sacrifices made by the animal people, the syilx people were given an important and critical responsibility; to take care of tmxʷulaxʷ and tmixʷ. This responsibility has been upheld for hundreds of generations and continues to this day.

tmxʷulaxʷ and tmixʷ need the Syilx people and using the knowledge given to us is our responsibility. The implementation of our knowledge systems is a critical necessity, today more than ever, and one that ensures that our lands, waters and all living things continue to exist in harmony and balance upon this earth. kʷuləncútn has given us memory and the animals have given us themselves, it is our obligation to share our knowledge and directly participate in taking care of tmxʷulaxʷ and tmixʷ.

These forestry standards have been developed by translating syilx understandings, protocols, principles and practices into a format that is understandable by a western audience. These standards will be implemented by the Penticton Indian Band within the Penticton Indian Band Area of Responsibility, syilx territory as is our right and our responsibility.

An Increasing Role for Syilx Nation Knowledge, Values and Leadership

For many years, various federal and provincial ministries and organizations have assumed a jurisdictional role over the stewardship and management of species and their habitat. Since the inception of western-based forest management regimes we, the people of snpink’tn have witnessed sharp and dramatic declines in ecosystem function, species diversity and the general health and well-being of our waters, our lands and our tmixw.

Our community and our leadership have noted that, clearly, provincial and federal processes and development approvals are heavily weighted towards economic gain, city and township expansion, increasing resource extraction and increasing human land use throughout syilx Territory. Within a relatively short period of time our landscape has been devastated through the Canadian governments never-ending quest for increase growth.

The forest resource sector is particularly impactful. Current harvest rates and harvest methodologies are not focused on maximizing optimal conditions for our relatives tmixw. Rather, minimal thresholds for the survival of important species are utilized putting short term economic gains before long-term optimal sustainability goals and climate change resiliency. The desire for singular provincial and industrial profits have been put before our acknowledged and protected Title and Rights.

This must change.

These standards will be implemented within syilx Territory, but they will also provide much needed information and Knowledge to external governments living within our lands. Knowledge that is needed now, more than ever, that will correct the damage to our ecosystems and increase our collective resiliency for the adaptive changes to come.

Together and through the utilization of syilx knowledge we can work to improve the awareness of ecosystem needs and incorporate syilx caretakership protocols which will create immediate and long-term improvement to our environment.

The Path Forward

Over the next several years, the Penticton Indian Band and syilx Nation will be working to educate provincial and federal governments and to provide advice on how to make strategic shifts in its business and resource extraction practices to move towards:

  • The adoption of syilx standards by provincial and federal governments and the development of new provincial and federal resource use standards that are based
    on syilx principles, practices and protocols;
  • A reduction in raw resource extraction within syilx Territory;
  • Value added mechanisms that maximize allowable and sustainable resource extraction and land use within syilx Territory; and
  • Syilx Nation leadership in terms of licensing, approvals, lands management and enforcement over all land and resource use within syilx Territory.

This is a living document and will be updated regularly to ensure adaptation to changing political, social and environmental landscapes.

Science and TEKK

The justification behind the syilx forestry standards comes from millennia of comprehensive teachings, passed through oral history and captiklw, about the land that have stood the test of time. The syilx people have lived in harmony with the tmixw since time immemorial. In the last 150 years western science has been imposed across syilx lands and the damage caused from it requires a return to traditional ways of caring for the land.. There is a way forward. Western science can compliment syilx laws when it comes to resource management in syilx territory. It will be applied accordingly and not based on economic gains or failures but instead will be applied to the benefit of the tmixw.

A note to Forest Companies

As we transition from current regimes imposed by the provincial government as they pertain to the allocation and licensing of syilx forests, this document will help you to work with the syilx people to plan for appropriate and sustainable forest harvest. It is expected that all harvest planning will involve working directly with the people of snpink’tn who will be ultimately responsible for any and all harvesting approvals within the PIB AOR. The information provided here will guide you in planning and ensure that any proposed developments:

  • comply with snpink’tn standards and policy; and
  • ensure appropriate involvement of the snpink’tn people at the planning, approval, harvest and post-harvest stage.

An understanding of syilx Standards will ensure you are following syilx Law and facilitate the approval and community engagement processes required prior to conducting your activities.

1. Introduction

The Penticton Indian Band is responsible for the caretakership of all syilx Territorial lands within the Penticton Indian Band Area of Responsibility (AOR).  PIB works with the syilx Nation and all syilx communities to ensure that syilx Knowledge comes to bear on any and all proposed resources extraction activities within syilx Territory.  We are committed to ensuring that our relatives, tmixw, are taken care of in the right way through the utilization of Knowledge passed down to us by Kʷuləncútn during the time of st’elsqilxʷ.

This document is based upon syilx Knowledge provided by snpink’tn Elders and Knowledge Keepers.  syilx standards have been translated into a format understandable by a western audience supporting an ancient captikwł prophesy:

Many thousands of years ago our relative and younger brother choose to leave our turtle island and go across the sea to a far away place.  Our ancestors wished our little brother a safe journey but there were concerns about his departure.  They knew that their little brother would be gone for a long time and they knew that the land would miss him and that he would miss the land.  They thought “When our brother comes home, someday far in the future, he will have lost his connection to our lands, he will have lost his Knowledge and ability to live in harmony with his many relatives here”  It was prophesized many hundreds of generations ago that the sqilxw people of the Okanagan Nation would need to accept their little brother home and recognize that although he might have much to share from his travels, he would also have much to learn to once again living in harmony with his relatives tmixw.

This prophesy has come to pass.  Little brother has returned from across the ocean and the syilx people have welcomed little brother home.  Little brother has learned many good things on his travels; he has brought many marvels home with him that could help his people and help the land.  However, as prophesied, little brother has also lost his connection to his home and relatives tmixw.  He has brought with him greed and many other people who would seek to exploit our relatives for their own gain. 

Part of this document and the standards development process is to educate little brother and those who have come with him.  To teach him what he has lost, his connection to all living things, and teach those who have come, those who rely only on the quantitative methods of science to come to understand our deeper connection with the land and why it is critical to proper caretakership.

Nxʷəlxʷəltantət: exemplifies the syilx people’s relationship to their territory and translates to “that which gives us life”

This document has been developed through direct consultation with syilx Knowledge Keepers, Elders and land users.  It incorporates syilx Knowledge that has been passed down for hundreds of generations and expresses that Knowledge in a contemporary western format so that it can be used by foresters and those part of the environmental planning process in collaboration with the syilx people to ensure that syilx Territorial lands are taken care of in the right way, for the good of all, for all time.

2. Purpose and Scope

This document sets out syilx standards as they pertain to the caretakership of syilx forests and syilx forestry resources.

This document has been developed to assist the provincial government and forestry proponents to address environmental, social and cultural protections  during planning, design and implementation of any forestry related activities within syilx Territory and, more specifically, within the Penticton Indian Band Area of Responsibility.

This document is an important planning tool but note that meaningful and appropriate engagement with the syilx Nation and syilx communities remains a critical and necessary component for any and all forestry activities.  This document is an important guide but our syilx Knowledge Keepers are clear that our lands, waters and resources are place-based.  In-field assessment and site specific overviews and information gathering exercises are required as part of the planning, design and implementation process.

3. Background

The syilx people have used, occupied and governed syilx Territory since time immemorial.  For many thousands of years, the syilx people lived in harmony with our relatives tmixw.  Through the application of our syilx Knowledge systems and ways of relating to our lands, waters and all living things (our worldview) the ecological integrity of our lands and their ability to adapt to environmental change (i.e. global cooling and warming through the millennia), their resiliency, has been maintained.

Since the inception of Canada, 150 years ago, syilx waters, lands and tmixw have been negatively affected by human activities including city expansions, agriculture and industrial developments.  Industrial forestry can be an ecosystem altering activity impacting many different species, waters and landscapes.  To ensure for the protection and resiliency of all living things syilx standards must be applied on our lands as they have been for thousands of years.

4. Why do we need to take care of our forests?

Skc̓x̌ʷiplaʔ:

the discipline given to the syilx people by the Creator which sets out the way that all of creation relates to each other and teach people how to live in relation to all other life forms.

5. Background

Forestry activities can and do have a significant impact on syilx lands, waters and tmixw.  Elders and land caretakers from the snpink’tn community have witness significant declines in species diversity and abundance, water quality and quantity and ecosystem function.  Forest harvest can impact the smallest amphibian to the weather and air we breathe.  This section addresses the range of potential impacts forestry activities can have on syilx Territorial lands. It provides additional context for why syilx standards must be implemented and how they are of benefit to our lands, waters and tmixw and also the long-term sustainability of the forestry industry.

Our lands, waters and tmixw are part of a complex and dynamic interrelated and deeply connected ecosystem.  All things are interconnected, what is done to one has effects on the other.  Forest management is complex because forest harvest is focused on the extraction and impact of critical components of this interconnected ecosystem and, although our forests are resilient and adaptable extreme caution and care must be taken when considering any forest harvesting activity.

Potential Impacts of forest harvest activities

Healthy forest ecosystems are incredibly dynamic.  Parts of the system are stationary, and parts are mobile, extending across the landscape and having multiple effects and benefits within this larger ecosystem.  Our forested ecosystem is composed of different seral stages, each supporting life in different and necessary ways.  In essence, our forests are essential and impacts to our forests must be carefully considered.  All forest harvest has the potential to impact values identified as critically important by the syilx community.  Such activities can affect our riparian areas, our wetlands, foods, our ceremonial places, our relatives tmixw, our very culture and who we are as a Nation.   These impacts can be temporary or lead to permanent loss or alteration of our cherished landscape.

With the potential for such significant impacts on our land, waters and tmixw, forest harvest must be approached in a precautionary proactive manner focused on cultural and environmental preservation before economic benefits are considered.

Community-based, bottom-up decision-making is part of the process utilized by the syilx people to ensure that our lands, waters and all living things are taken care of in the right way.

Physical Impacts: Impacts on ecosystem Processes

Forest ecosystems rely on trees and water to function. A healthy forest provides critical habitat for species at risk, species of cultural significance, and thousands of different plants and animals.  Streams and watercourses rely on forests for the quality and quantity of their water, as a flood prevention mechanism and to bind soils preventing increases in turbidity. Forests are a stabilizing force, they balance temperature and light regimes, maintain water inflows and outflows, fix and provide nutrients to soils and waterways, control and balance wind speeds, provide protection from weather and provide many other critically important ecosystem processes. The effects and benefits of healthy forest function extends throughout syilx Territory.  The maintenance of healthy forests has been recognized as one of the single most important factors associated with taking care of syilx lands, waters and all living things. The balance of syilx forests can be easily affected by human activities. Today’s logging practices, climate change, and non-regulated uses (illegal shooting, dumping, tree-cutting, motorized recreation) are the single biggest potential impactor to forest health within syilx Territory.

6. When do syilx forestry Standards Apply?

Syilx forestry standards apply during all phases of proposing, designing, planning, in-field assessment, implementation and post-harvest auditing.  The syilx standards illustrated in this document do not stand alone.  The Syilx Nation and appropriate Syilx community must be engaged directly during the proposal and design phases of any proposed forestry development.  Through its community-based, bottom-up decision making process, the Syilx community will determine where forest development activities can and cannot take place and explain how the caretakership process will work for a given area utilizing syilx place-based Knowledge.

Specific process requirements, time frames, funding requirements and engagement activities will be explained by the Syilx Nation or Syilx community leading the assessment.

This page is intended to outline a standard that is “under development” and will be updated as more information becomes available.