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South Okanagan provincial parks name change reflect aboriginal culture

Environment Minister Mary Polak (front row second from left) and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie (front row second from right) celebrated the official renaming of two BC Parks.
Image Credit: Contributed/Government of B.C.
May 23, 2015 - 7:34 PM

PENTICTON - Two South Okanagan parks have been renamed to reflect traditional First Nation place names.

Environment Minister Mary Polak and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie made the official announcement, renaming Haynes Point and Okanagan Falls Provincial Parks.

The name changes coincide with the Osoyoos band taking over management of the two parks. McIntyre Bluff will also be renamed.

Haynes Point is now officially known as swiws park (pronouced: swee-yous) which means “where it is shallow or narrow in the middle of the lake.”

Okanagan Falls is now sx ex nitk park (pronounced: s-wuh-wuneet-kw) which means “little falls" and signifies a connection to Kettle Falls, which is known as “big falls” in the nsyilxcen language. The two sites were once important fishing sites for the Okanagan Nation.

“Language and place names are of utmost importance to the historical and cultural identity of people from any region of country,” Chief Louie said in a media release, noting early French and English settlers were well aware of this based on the fact they renamed places on the map as some of their first actions.

“First Nations language and place names deserve the same respect as their English names — not just in historical context but in a temporary context as well. I am so proud to know that these names will now be formally recognized and acknowledged as part of the political, social and cultural fabric of the province,” he said.

Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson noted the agreement now gives the Osoyoos Indian Band more involvement in park management operations which supports long term protection of cultural values while allowing continued public use and enjoyment.

Both parks remain open with the same recreational opportunities as was offered previously.

The English names will be included in local signage through the transition period to the nsyilxcen names.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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