UBC Okanagan and the Okanagan Nation Alliance have partnered up to host the 2021 One River, Ethics Matter (OREM) conference set to take place starting Nov. 17.
The conference will focus on the Indigenous-led work of the Syilx nation with restoring ntytyix (salmon) to the Okanagan and Upper Columbia Rivers. It will also discuss the review process to modernize the 57-year-old Columbia River Treaty as part of the ethics consultation process for improving the decision-making process for the Columbia River. Participants will include traditional ecological knowledge keepers, environmental experts and religious scholars from Canada and the U.S.
UBCO associate professor and Syilx knowledge keeper Jeannette Armstrong will be one of several speakers at the event. Grand Chief Steward Phillip will also be speaking at the event, along with former University of Idaho professor Barbara Cosens. Indigenous youth experts, historians, biologists and policy officials will be present, along with representatives from the Roman Catholic Church.
“These gatherings have been opportunities to feel the reality and impacts of colonization upon Indigenous Nations and the devastating impacts of the Columbia River Treaty. They also provide an opportunity to share stories that are familiar to all tribes along the Columbia River,” said Pauline Terbasket, executive director of the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
UBCO’s deputy vice-chancellor and vice-principal Lesley Cormack will provide opening remarks at the event. “The lasting and far-reaching effects of both colonization and climate change have taken a toll on the Columbia River basin, as with other natural environments around the world,” said Cormack.