South Okanagan initiative to include aboriginal story in Canada's 150 celebrations - InfoNews

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South Okanagan initiative to include aboriginal story in Canada's 150 celebrations

Rethink 150: Indigenous Truth Collective's billboard unveiling in the Similkameen Valley on Saturday, May 20, 2017. The group hopes to provide an alternative view to Canada 150 celebrations that includes native history.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
May 24, 2017 - 2:34 PM

PENTICTON - A group of South Okanagan First Nations are hoping their initiative will stimulate a new direction in dialogue and understanding with non-indegenous Canadians as part of Canada’s 150 birthday celebrations.

Rethink 150: Indigenous Truth Collective launched their campaign to "interrupt the settler colonial story about origins of Canada" with the unveiling of a billboard on Highway 3 south of Cawston on Saturday, May 20.

For Rethink 150 Collective member Dixon Terbasket, it’s about having native history told.

“For a relationship to be strong, people need to talk about what’s upsetting, not just suppress it and ignore it,” Terbasket says.

He says his people have been marginalized and pushed down by the present system.

“We can’t just get over it and get on with it,” he says.

Terbasket says he expects the billboard will be thought-provoking, and may make some people uncomfortable.

The images were created by artist Crystal Przybille, a non-native, and expresses the colonial oppression of indigenous people over the last 150-plus years. It portrays the systemic oppression of the natives through images symbolizing the theft of land, residential schools and environmental destruction.

Saturday’s billboard launch was one of a series of initiatives planned by the Rethink 150: Indigenous Truth Collective group, who, through discussions with Sylix people and non-natives alike, shared similar concerns about the focus of Canada 150 celebrations and looked at how a commemoration recognizing the aboriginal component to Canada might take place.

The collective hopes its initiative will provide an alternative to Canada 150 celebrations that foster meaningful processes of reconciliation between Syilx/Okanagan people and non-indigenous Canadians.

Led by members of the Okanagan Syilx First Nation, Rethink 150 is inviting others to work with them in their efforts to have native stories told and included in Canada’s narrative.

The group is seeking to build a new and more respectful relationship between native and non-natives, focussing on Canada’s 150 birthday, because they feel those celebrations ignore the history of Canada’s natives, at the same time minimizing what they see are ongoing processes of displacement and assimilation amongst First Nations peoples.

An event planned for July 1 will include an art exhibit and discussion.

For more information on Rethink 150, see the group's Facebook page.

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