Celebrating Siya with Westbank First Nation

June 19, 2019 by Sean Beardow

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On June 7, several members of FortisBC attended the Siya festival hosted by the Westbank First Nation and the Sncewips Heritage Museum on behalf of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and Syilx—or Okanagan--peoples.

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Siya honours the land as well as the bounty it provides for the people who live upon it. It is also a time to celebrate renewal and to provide blessings for a fruitful year to follow.

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What does Siya mean anyway?

Siya is the Syilx word for the Saskatoon berry. Syilx people believe that four food chiefs are the parents of their people. Together, these food chiefs agreed to give their lives so their people could thrive. 

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The food chiefs are the ones who give access to everything the land has to offer, including access to all four-legged animals, life in the water, plant life that grows underground, and plant life that grows above the ground, represented by the siya.

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The celebration also holds special significance for children as they are an embodiment of growth – similar to the berries and plants honoured through Siya ceremonies.

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Supporting Sncewips

FortisBC provided funding to the Sncewips Heritage Museum for a new tipi that will be part of future celebrations.

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But more importantly, by supporting and attending the festival, our employees were able to learn more about one of the Indigenous communities we serve and take part in their culture and traditions.

Learn more about other ways that FortisBC seeks to support Indigenous culture and communities.