A pop up garden was constructed at Komasket Park, with 60 boxes, for the Okanagan Indian Band’s Food Security Initiative in 2020. (OKIB photo)

A pop up garden was constructed at Komasket Park, with 60 boxes, for the Okanagan Indian Band’s Food Security Initiative in 2020. (OKIB photo)

Poverty-reduction funds granted to Okanagan First Nations

OKIB focusing on food security, Osoyoos hosting community well-being sessions

Food security initiatives are being harvested by the Okanagan Indian Band.

The OKIB is among six communities in the Thompson Okanagan that have been delivered grants from the First Nations Well Being Fund.

Skill building workshops, apiculture (beekeeping) training and a community garden will take root in the OKIB thanks to $34,600.

The Osoyoos Indian Band is using its $25,000 to deliver eight community-based sessions to develop and build a well-being plan for band members.

The Lower Similkameen Indian Band is also focusing on food security initiatives, including food distribution and restoring a local greenhouse, with its $35,000 grant.

The Coldwater Indian Band will use its $32,257 to record traditional teachings and decolonization, and implement an Elders’ cultural and Knowledge-Keeping group.

Developing and delivering training and skill-building programs around mobility and fall prevention for Elders in the community will be done by the Lytton First Nation with its $35,000.

More than $2 million in grants has been provided to 62 First Nations communities throughout the province.

“Numerous studies have shown that Indigenous people experience the highest levels of poverty, with a shocking 25 per cent of Indigenous people in Canada living in poverty,” said Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit political executive. “This welcome program is a modest step toward addressing the disproportionally high rates of poverty for First Nations citizens in B.C. The program was very oversubscribed, which clearly shows there is a high demand for much-needed funding for these types of important community projects.”

The First Nations Well Being Fund is administered by the First Nations Public Service Secretariat, in partnership with the First Nations Leadership Council. It supports First Nations and Tribal Councils in their efforts to promote well-being, improve quality of life for community members on and off reserve, and reduce poverty at the community or Nation level.

“As we continue the work to build and maintain strong relationships based on recognition and implementation of the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples, it’s good to know that many of the plans and projects being funded through the First Nations Well Being Fund are designed to preserve and respect Indigenous cultures and promote community well-being,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

Applications to the first intake of the fund closed May 30, 2021. All B.C. First Nations were eligible to apply to the fund, which was created with a $2.7-million grant from the province.

“Local Indigenous leaders are improving community food security and delivering quality of life programs that support their members both on and off reserve,” said Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary Similkameen. “To me, improving well-being is the foundational goal that matters to us all, so I’m thrilled for these communities. When we work together to raise one another up, everyone in our communities is better off.”

READ MORE: Okanagan Indian Band lends a hand with food amid pandemic

READ MORE: 2007 film on residential schools includes Neskonlith Elder’s memories from Kamloops


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