Province improves access for Indigenous anglers at Okanagan Falls dam - InfoNews

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Province improves access for Indigenous anglers at Okanagan Falls dam

Native anglers fish for sockeye salmon on the east side of the Okanagan River following removal of a section of fence by provincial ministry personnel yesterday, July 21, 2020.
Image Credit: Facebook / John Kruger
July 22, 2020 - 1:40 PM

Mischief believed tied to a property dispute over native access to Okanagan River below Okanagan Falls dam has diminished following an act of support for the fishery by the province.

On July 21, a government official was at the dam to oversee removal of a section of fence on Crown Land adjacent the east side of the river.

The opening allows for safe passage to the fishing site, away from adjacent private land and an ongoing high water mark dispute that has pitted the landowner against the anglers since 2016.

Ministry of Forests, Lands Natural Resources Operations spokesperson Tyler Hooper said in an email the province recognizes the value of the Okanagan fishery to the Syilx people.

The province also recognized the existence of a corridor of Crown Land that runs proximal to the east side of the Okanagan River, near the dam.

“The province commits to working with the adjacent property owner and the office of the Surveyor General to resolve an ongoing boundary dispute,” Hooper said.

Former Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger says mischief experienced by fishermen at the site last week has since abated.

Anglers found nails scattered in the parking area, and fencing and gates covered in sticky insect attractant with prickly pear cactus needles embedded in it.

“We cleaned up the area yesterday and held a peaceful rally at the opening, with drumming, singing and prayers,” Kruger said. “We’re thankful to the province, the department of fisheries and the RCMP for their cooperation. They understand our inherent right to fish and that we need safe access."

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