Spirit North’s Kevin Dunn helps Bella Armstrong with her ski boots. Mark Brett/Western News

Spirit of welcoming unveiled at Okanagan nordic centre

The official unveiling of the dual language signs at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.

nsyilxcn spoken here.

Not quite, but it is a start at least as about 100 dual language signs, English and nsyilxcn (Sylix/Okanagan Nation language), now mark the 30 trails that criss-cross Nickel Plate Nordic Centre just west of Apex Mountain Resort.

Nearly 35 students and teachers from the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School, West Bench Elementary School and PIB elders and Spirit North representatives celebrated the collaborative effort at a special sign unveiling ceremony Monday.

Student Jordan Ray of Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School with one of the new dual language signs unveilved Monday at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.
Mark Brett/Western News

For the first time last season, Nickel Plate and two other B.C. nordic venues hosted the Alberta-based Spirit North pilot cross country ski (and snowshoeing) programming for Indigenous youth. For months now PIB knowledge keeper Richard Armstrong and others worked on the translation of the English names for the routes that go by Midnight Sun, Evening Star, Hidden Mystery and others.

“Monday marked a new project for us,” said Spirit North founder and CEO Beckie Scott, a two-time, Olympic cross-country skiing medalist.

“This is something that we haven’t embarked on before but it really fits within the mandate of providing opportunities for Indigenous communities to feel welcomed and embraced by the sport community.

“I think historically, the sporting community hasn’t done a very good job of opening the door to everyone and ensuring that all members of our society have the same access, the same ability to benefit from the tremendous opportunities that sport and recreation provide, so this is opening the door a little bit wider.”

Related: Dual language sign unveiling Monday at Okanagan nordic centre

The unveiling had special meaning to PIB member Levi Bent, who took up cross country skiing last year after his son Leroi, a Grade 5 student at Outma, became involved with the Spirit North program.

“It looks good, it feels good,” said Levi standing tall on his skis Monday with his boy beside him.

“We come up here and it’s a family thing and it’s nice that the language is recognized, that this is our territory, to see the language on the signs is really nice.”

Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School student Leroi Bent at the Spirit North sign unveiling Monday at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.
Mark Brett/Western News

Leroi, 10, agreed: “I think it’s important to have the signs in the language because people can learn the language and get into it more because it’s kind of dying. Without the language it’s nothing.”

Elder Rose Caldwell, the Penticton School District Indigenous language teacher, gave the blessing Monday and performed the traditional smudging (cleansing) ceremony.

“It’s important for them (children) to see the language when they’re out in the wilderness and a lot of them take language lessons so they’ll be able to understand what those names are, or pronounce them anyways,” said Caldwell, whose granddaughter Bella Armstrong, a Grade 4 student at West Bench, is also part of the program. “I think it is absolutely welcoming for them and it’s good for the land as well, it’s good for them to be out in the fresh air and in the mountains.

“It’s good medicine.”

And according to Perianne Jones, Spirt North community outreach leader who taught the kids last season at Nickel Plate, the signs are also very important for the non-Indigenous people who enjoy what Nickel Plate has to offer.

“I think for everyone else that comes up here it’s a good reminder that we are on traditional land and we’re really lucky to be able to use it and share it,” said Jones, also former Olympic cross country ski team member. “So having signs up is a good reminder and hopefully some of us gain some appreciation for that.”

Related: Sharing the voices of the mountains with Spirit North

Spirit North is currently in catch up mode after receiving late word of funding from the federal government but according to Scott all is going well.

Rose Caldwell, elder and language instructor for School District 67 performs the smudging ceremony at the dual language sign unveiling Monday at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.
Mark Brett/Western News

The program is now expanding into other parts of B.C. including West Bank First Nations and two other provinces reaching an estimated 8,000 Indigenous kids and their families.

“It’s been a lot of work and a lot of heavy lifting but so worth it,” said Scott. “So many of the new communities that we’re coming into this year are so thrilled and beyond excited to start programs and we share their excitement.”

The official on-snow start of the Spirit North ski program at Nickel Plate begins next week.


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

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

 

Spirit North kids practice their “helicopter” recovery method. Mark Brett/Western News

Kevin Dunn, Spirit North community outreach leader leads students in their warm up. Mark Brett/Western News

Just Posted

Racism wasn’t dealt with properly by school, says Chilliwack graduate

Woman tells story of being verbally assaulted at school for being black

Investigators comb through Chilliwack house following standoff

RCMP say investigation involves report of an early morning shooting

Fraser Valley Health Foundation annouces fifth annual golf tourney

Proceeds will benefit medical facilites across the Valley

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

Chilliwack dad rescues his two young daughters after truck plunges into Cultus Lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

VIDEO: Pitt Meadows dentist gets grand welcome home after two-month COVID-19 battle

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read