Armstrong police have raised the bar towards reconciliation with local Indigenous people.
The Okanagan Nation flag was raised at the Armstrong RCMP detachment Oct. 20 with members of the Okanagan Indian Band and Vernon North Okanagan RCMP.
Elders Penny Lawrence and Joanne Louis raised the flag beside the Canadian flag for the ceremonious occasion.
In addition to the flag, a land recognition plaque — written in Okanagan language, English and French — was unveiled at the entrance to the building. The plaque acknowledges that the site of the detachment is located on the traditional Syilx territory of the Okanagan peoples.
“We are proud to install this plaque and raise the Okanagan Indian Band flag at our Armstrong office,” said Supt. Shawna Baher, Officer in Charge for the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP. “This act toward reconciliation supports what we are working every day to achieve; strong, healthy, sustainable relationships with our Indigenous communities.”
Collaboration on the project began in September 2020, spearheaded by Const. Kyle Camalush of the Indigenous Policing Services.
“As a liaison, I have the unique opportunity to work closely alongside the OKIB community,” said Camalush. “I’ve learned a great deal in my time here and have made it a priority to share this knowledge with my colleagues to foster a better understanding of local culture and traditions.
“I was fortunate to work with Savannah Louis, who is in the fourth year of her Bachelor of Language Fluency Degree at UBCO, to ensure that this statement was accurately and primarily recorded in Okanagan language. Limləmt, Savannah!”
The local art piece was created by Tessa Louis and will illustrate the RCMP’s “valued and dedicated” relationship with the OKIB. The artwork will be unveiled in a separate ceremony at a later date.