Okanagan Nation Alliance
September 2019 to December 2020
Okanagan and Similkameen Watersheds
Following the devastating flood and debris flow events of 2017-2018, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) set forth to better understand the risk from these phenomena within the Okanagan-Similkameen region (15,000 km2 area, all of which is unceded territory). One of the project’s objectives was to conduct all activities primarily through the Syilx lens. Another objective was to build relationships among the region’s Syilx Nation communities and over twenty non-Syilx local and regional governments, agencies, non-profits, and utilities. The ONA needed the hazard information to be compiled and communicated in a way that aligned with the Siwɬkʷ (water) Declaration to benefit everyone in the region.
Through a series of activities ranging from number-crunching to active-listening, the project team evolved a process of weaving the Syilx perspective with western science. The holistic approach was guided by a respect for Siwɬkʷ and acknowledging that water is powerful, is life-giving, and is connected with past and future generations. Using qualitative and quantitative information, we assessed risk over two watersheds for 2 hazards, and 6 indicators. Multiple watershed-scale cumulative pressures, including climate change and urban development, were highlighted as reasons for worsening hazards on the tmxwulaxw (land). The project maps and results now guide more detailed risk assessments across the region to follow the Syilx lens. They also provide a basis for next steps regarding adaptation and mitigation actions.