1st Annual Interior of B.C. Indigenous Food Sovereignty Conference Final Report
Since the time of contact with non Indigenous settlers in the southern interior of B.C. many traditional Indigenous harvesters including hunters, fishermen, and gatherers from the Ktunaxa, Nlaka’pamux, Secwepemc, St’at’imc, Syilx, and Ts’ilqotin nations have repeatedly expressed concern about the declining health and abundance of culturally important foods in our respective traditional territories. Therefore, the Interior of B.C. Indigenous Food Sovereignty Conference (IFSC) Planning Committee is dedicated to organizing the time and space for traditional Indigenous harvesters to come together and articulate and debate Indigenous food sovereignty issues and find solutions to the consequent insecurity of Indigenous food systems in the southern interior of B.C.
As one of the partners in the project, the En’owkin Centre offered to host and take a leading role in the administration of the Interior of B.C. Indigenous Food Sovereignty Conference which was the 1st regional conference on this subject. The conference took place at En’owkin Centre in Syilx (Okanagan) territory on Penticton Indian Reserve from August 28-31st . The En'owkin Centre is an Indigenous cultural, educational and creative arts institution which is governed by the Okanagan Indian Educational Resources Society. En’owkin Centre is in good standing under the province of B.C. Society Act and has registered charitable status under Revenue Canada Taxation.
The generous hospitality of the Syilx people began with the lighting of a sacred fire and offerings and prayers that asked for the safe arrival and departure of guests as well as positive energy and thoughts for the important discussions that took place at the conference. Accommodation included traditional outdoor camp sites free of charge and dinners were provided by the Syilx and Secwepemc participants. Traditional harvesters from the various nations were also asked to contribute food from their 2006 hunting, gathering and fishing activities to ensure that the meals at the conference appropriately consisted of Indigenous foods
making the meals more relevant to the discussions.