After our first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in so-called Canada, it is important to remember that the actual process of achieving truth and reconciliation is continuous, ongoing, and not something that only occurs for twenty-four hours once a year. As UBCO and The Phoenix News are located and working on the unceded and unsurrendered ancestral and traditional land of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, we would like to share some resources by and about Indigenous peoples to help learn about and support Indigenous histories, stories, businesses, organizations, and projects. One of these resources is the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, a centre dedicated to providing resources and support for the community while encouraging the community to share and promote Aboriginal cultural distinctiveness. I was honoured to be able to speak with the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society’s Executive Director, Edna Terbasket, and hear about what the centre provides, her thoughts on truth and reconciliation, and what she would like to see in the future.
Content Warning: The following conversation and resources listed may contain content that may be disturbing to some viewers. During the conversation, topics related to colonialism, (anti-Indigenous) racism, family separation, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and emotional abuse, and residential schools are mentioned, discussed, or insinuated. Some of the reading, watch, and podcast lists may contain texts with graphic details, images, and depictions of residential schools, genocide, and anti-Indigenous racism and abuse. In case you feel that you are in need of support, below are some resources that can help:
- National Indian Residential School Crisis Line
You can reach them by their toll-free, 24/7, Canada-wide phone number: 1-866-925-4419
- The Indian Residential School Survivors Society
You can reach them by their toll-free number (1-800-721-0066), through their main
phone number (604-985-0023), or by their email firstname.lastname@example.org
- KUU-US Crisis Line
You can visit their website or call their toll-free and 24/7 phone number for BC:
- Atlohsa Family Healing Service
You can reach their general phone at 519-438-0068 or through their 24-hour crisis lines:
519-432-0122 or 1-800-605-7477
- Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
You can visit their office on Leon Avenue in-person or contact them by phone
(250-763-4905) or through email (email@example.com)
- UBCO Health and Wellness
UBCO students can contact anytime Monday to Friday, 9:00am-4:00pm through the
website or by phone: 250-802-9270
- Additional Help Lines:
BC suicide and crisis line: 1-800-SUICIDE (784 2433)
Kelowna crisis line: 1-888-353-CARE (2273)
In Conversation with Edna Terbasket
The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society plays a crucial part in the community and is made up of an incredible team of staff and volunteers. Of the Directors and Senior Staff is Executive Director Edna Terbasket, who has been involved with the centre since the 1980s.
“The centre is in my heart. I’ve been involved for so many years and I feel that I am a strong voice for [the centre],” Terbasket said in our interview. “The centre, to me, is the core for services, community for our urban Indigenous people, and our doors are open to anyone to come in. We don’t say no to anybody.”
The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society offers a broad variety of services for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing through community-based services for people in all stages in life. At the same time, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society encourages the community to preserve, share, and promote Aboriginal cultural distinctiveness. Of these resources, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society has family advocates, an alcohol and drugs counsellor, a mental health worker, people who work with Interior Health, classes for our immigrant populations, family support and assessments, and supervised access visits for children to visit their parents/care-givers.
“We have an offsite building, Tupa’s Lodge, and that is for young moms who just had their baby and the [Ministry of Children and Family Development] is looking at mom and baby to separate,” said Terbasket. “We like to bring mom and baby to Tupa’s Lodge and provide twenty-four hour care for them as it is so important to have that bonding and help the mom keep her baby.”
Special programs specific for youth and Elders are also available despite the pandemic.
“We have an Elder care coordinator who takes care of the Elders. Pre-Covid, they did a lot of activities and with Covid, it’s kind of limited what they can do,” Terbasket explained. “There are so many people who are so anxious, especially the Elders. They want to get together and not be so lonely, so our Elder care spends a lot of time on the phone just chatting with them, checking in with them, and reassuring them that we are still here.”
“We have a youth worker and we have two Elder and youth workers,” Terbasket continued. “One of them does a lot of recreation, one does a lot of the housing, health, education–gets them into school if they’re not in school–and emotional support. We try to look after them.”
The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society is also currently working with School District 23 to house their preschool, Skәmxist, in Quigley Elementary. But according to Terbasket, more good things are coming. “We are in the works of building our own preschool,” she told me, “and hopefully by September 2022 it will be open. It is in one of our housing sites at Highway 33 and Margaret’s Landing.”
Stressing the importance of emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being as much as physical well-being, Terbasket said, “In our mandate, with the four quadrants being physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, it’s really important because you can’t have one without the other and it has to be in balance. It’s really important that we work with all four as an individual and a community.”
Part of upholding and supporting the mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being of the community includes celebrating and supporting diversity and Aboriginal cultural distinctiveness. Terbasket emphasized the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society’s diversity and how it works to educate the community about how diverse Kelowna actually is.
“If I were a tourist from, say, Paris and I came to Kelowna, I wouldn’t know that there were any Indigenous people here,” Terbasket said. “There should be more artwork and there should be more signage in our language. The bridge should have an Indigenous name on it.”
“I bug people a lot about trying to Indigenize Kelowna,” continued Terbasket. “When we get the opportunity or if someone calls, whether it is Interior Health or the big RCMP, we’re there.”
When talking about what she would like the future to look like, Terbasket shared a vivid and lively vision. “It should be more Indigenous-looking,” she said. “People should know when they come to Kelowna that they are on Indigenous land here and that there are local Indigenous people here in Kelowna.”
“It would be nice if you could walk within a block and you could see something Indigenous,” she continued. “Have that ‘okay, I’m in Okanagan. I’m in Syilx country or territory and there are Syilx people here.’”
“I’m sure if we spoke with an Elder here that that mountain–Knox Mountain–has an Indigenous name and that the surrounding areas have Indigenous names,” Terbasket said. “It’s not like we are changing the whole thing.”
Acknowledging that achieving real Truth and Reconciliation is a process, Terbasket shared her thoughts on what it means to her and what she wants to see happen. “Truth and reconciliation, to me, is all about truth and so far, there isn’t a whole lot of truth out there. We really need to focus on that truth, really need to focus on Canada saying ‘okay, we really messed up and we’re going to work our buns off to undo what we did’ which is going to take a lot of time because the colonization has been going on over one hundred fifty years now.”
However, as Terbasket pointed out, many people are unaware of Canada’s colonial past, let alone how its colonial legacy is ongoing and how it is impacting Indigenous communities to this day.
“A lot of people don’t even know why we get September 30th off,” Terbasket remarked.
Reflecting on residential schools and how you can still see the intergenerational impact to this day, Terbasket illustrated one of the many painful cycles caused by this trauma. “If you went to residential school, you knew what was happening to your kids, so drinking numbs the pain and now drugs that are killing our youth. If they break up the family, sister and brother could be in the same school but could never talk to each other. When they get home, they are strangers. Things have happened to them while they were in school. They are not the same. Mom and dad went there so they know what happened but they are not going to talk about it. People have died without talking about their trauma.”
“I think of some of our Elders and some of our folks when they found the two hundred fifteen plus and I think of that pain; that pain for that little one, who was murdered and was never talked about to their parents, their grandparents, their siblings, and any of the other family members. I couldn’t imagine if my sister or my brother–one day I see them and one day I never see them again. I couldn’t imagine that.”
“With my people–and when I say ‘my people’ I mean all Indigenous people–family is everything, is absolutely everything. And a child is the most sacred thing in the family and that child was treated in such a way that when the child grew up it had all this honesty, trust, humility, respect, wisdom, all of that at a very young age,” Terbasket continued. “Violence wasn’t a big thing in our families. Kids were shown–if they did something wrong–they were shown the right way in a loving matter.”
On September 30th, The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society sold a thousand orange shirts. “We could not find an orange t-shirt to save our lives,” Terbasket recalled. “They sold within a day. They were all gone.”
But Terbasket affirmed that Truth and Reconciliation can not stop there. Emphasizing the importance of listening, she states, “you need to be quiet and listen. Really listen and think about what you just heard. Take the time to process it and put it into a way you can process it.”
As Terbasket revealed, listening is not always enough and often this work to reach Truth and Reconciliation is left to Indigenous people to do. At the same time, there is a lack of Indigenous representation in other workplaces and jobs in Kelowna.
Terbasket shared an experience she had in a municipal government institution in which she could only see white women working. “I know I was treated differently,” she said. “Our people are capable of any kind of job. Why don’t we see more of our people?”
“If we are going to make change and if there is going to be a change, we are going to have to be the ones to always push.”
Returning to the importance of truth, Terbasket said “I’m not sure if it will happen in my lifetime, but I would love to see real truth. The textbooks, the education system all have to be readjusted to speak the truth right from Kindergarten to grade twelve then in post-secondary. There needs to be people willing to learn and accept and acknowledge and work on creating a better future.”
To help with their community support, services, and events, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society is looking for volunteers and accepting monetary and clothing donations. “What we find with a lot of our people who are homeless, is that they really appreciate underwear and socks,” Terbasket said. Belts, sleeping bags, tarps, and warm winter clothing are also essential items that will be increasing in demand as temperatures drop. If you are interested in volunteering, you can click here and if you would like to make a donation, you can click here for more information or here to make a strictly monetary donation.
As UBCO is situated on the Syilx Okanagan Nation, many of the following resources are from or based in so-called Canada and more specifically, British Columbia. If you are from outside of the Okanagan and are not sure whose land you might be on or from, check out Native Land, a growing website (and downloadable app) that highlights and identifies Indigenous lands and territories, including accessible links for quick and accessible information about the selected nation and/or territory. Knowing whose land you are on is essential for learning how to situate yourself, and find resources you can support or participate in.
To start off our resource list, below are a few projects and organizations that you can support, donate to, or participate in:
- On Canada’s “Settlers Take Action” Project
In response to the unmarked graves of Indigenous children found on the sites of former residential schools, On Canada started a new project that works as a guide for settlers to learn and take action. The “Settlers Take Action” project is composed of a document detailing the history of colonialism, residential schools, and provides context on how colonialism continues today. The document is also filled with resources that can also be accessed through On Canada’s website including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and cheat sheets to terms and definitions. While some of the action items include contacting local politicians and government representatives, you do not have to be a Canadian citizen to participate in this project.
- Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS)
As mentioned as a wellness resource above, the IRSSS accepts donations to put into the crucial services they have been providing province-wide for residential school survivors for twenty years. These services include counselling, health support, and cultural support. You can click here to donate.
- Nshwaasnangong Child Care & Family Centre
Led by the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre with the purpose of revitalizing Indigenous languages and culture, the Nshwaasnangong Child Care & Family Centre is a space for Indigenous children, youth, and families to come together and participate in culturally-relevant programs. Opening up for the first time this month, the centre will include land-based learning, ceremonies, community supports, and playgroups. You can click here to donate.
- Sncewips Heritage Museum
Located in Westbank and owned by the Westbank First Nation, the Sncewips Heritage Museum is dedicated to preserving, restoring, and collecting artefacts that reflect the heritage and history of the Syilx Okanagan People. The museum provides a protected place for sqilxʷ culture and heritage while allowing the public to be able to experience the collections, histories, and oral stories of the Syilx people from a sqilxʷ perspective. As a non-profit organization, the Sncewips Heritage Museum accepts monetary donations and the donations of artifacts of which you can donate here.
- Woodland Cultural Centre
The Woodland Cultural Centre is a museum and space to help preserve and promote Indigenous history, art, language, and culture. Through innovative art, exhibits, artifacts, programs, and events, the centre provides a place to learn about the Haudenosaunee people of the Eastern Woodlands. By donating here, you can help the Woodland Cultural Centre and support their “Save the Evidence” campaign, which aims to restore the former Mohawk Institute Residential School and turn it into an educational historic site.
As a news/media platform with work based and focussed in the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, Indiginews provides a space for Indigenous stories to be told and uplifted. With journalism that is about respect, people, listening, building bridges, growing, and collaborating, Indiginews works to decolonize the media and have a positive impact on communities. You can click here to subscribe to their weekly newsletters, and donate here to support Indiginews’ trauma-informed reporting.
Local and small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, and Indigenous businesses and creators have been impacted disproportionately. A quick and easy resource to help find Indigenous-owned and operated businesses and creatives from across so-called Canada is Shop First Nations, which works to encourage consumers to invest in Indigenous goods and services while honouring Truth and Reconciliation. Through Indigenous Tourism BC, you can find many Indigenous-owned businesses and tourist attractions from all over British Columbia and can search by region. Below is a list of some of the businesses and attractions you can visit in the Okanagan:
- Kekuli Cafe
With locations in Westbank, Merritt, and soon-to-be in Kamloops, Kekuli Cafe is a great place to enjoy freshly-brewed coffee and Indigenous cuisine, listen to music by Aboriginal/North American artists, and browse Aboriginal art and jewelry. You can visit their website and browse their menu here.
- Indigenous World Winery
Inspired by the stewardship of the Okanagan Syilx people and their own Syilx roots, Robert and Bernice Louie of Indigenous World Winery merges modern culture with Indigenous history through the making and producing of their quality wine. Open to the public for tastings, you can also view and purchase from Indigenous World Winery’s shop or join their wine club.
- Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre offers an opportunity to experience and learn about the lands and culture of the Syilx Okanagan Nation from the Osoyoos Indian Band. Both an indoor and outdoor experience, visitors can learn about and engage with Syilx history, art, culture, and land in a fun and interactive way. You can also donate to the cultural centre here, or if you are interested in volunteering, you can apply here.
- Spirit Ridge Resort
Located adjacent to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, the Spirit Ridge Resort by Hyatt is known for its wine cellars, golf course, lake-side views, and spectacular suites (that can be pet friendly). Partly owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band, Spirit Ridge Resort is featured in the third 8th Fire episode “Whose land is it anyway?”. You can view the rooms here and check out the area attractions here.
There are many ways to show support, stay connected, and learn. Another good place to start is with your bookshelf, watch list, and podcast list. Books, films and videos, and podcasts can be a great way to continue learning and unlearning and to take your knowledge with you. Below are a few lists of resources you can read, watch, and listen to to learn and better your understanding of Truth and Reconciliation and Indigenous histories, stories, experiences, and calls to action:
This reading list barely scratches the surface of the amount of books you can find written by and about Indigenous people. While the sources listed are a place to start, you can also find books and reading lists through Theytus Books and Massy Books.
- The Orange Shirt Story: The True Story of Orange Shirt Day by Phyllis Webstad
- Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian [Canadian] Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada by Paulette Regan
- Dealing with Shame and Unresolved Trauma: Residential School and Its Impact on the 2nd and 3rd Generation Adults by N. Rosalyn Ing
- Fatty Legs: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
- My Name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling
- Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
- As Long as the Rivers Flow by Constance Brissenden and Larry Loyie
- When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
- Gaawin Gindaaswin Ndaawsii / I Am Not a Number By Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
- 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act by Bob Joseph
- Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing by and about Indigenous Peoples by Greg Younging
- The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Similar to the reading list, these are only a few films and videos that are notable. More incredible works can be found through the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), a source of Indigenous led and focussed news, television, movies, music, events, and more.
- Indian Horse (2017), directed by Stephen Campanelli
- Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2014), directed by Jeff Barnaby
- My Legacy (2014), directed by Helen Haig-Brown
- Inendi (2020), short documentary series directed by Sarian Fox
- We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice (2016), directed by Alanis Obomsawin
- Holy Angels (2017) short documentary directed by Jay Cardinal Villeneuve
- Canada’s Dark Secret (2017) documentary series directed by Rania El Rafael
- We Were Children (2012) documentary directed by Tom Wolochatuik
Interested in more podcasts? Indiginews, APTN, and CBC Radio/Podcasts often feature several different podcasts and other auditory works that provide insight and education into Indigenous history, stories, and culture.
- “Connie Walker and the firsthand legacy of residential schools” from CBC’s Back Story
- “Still Here Still Healing” by Jade Roberts
- “Residential Schools Podcast Series” from The Canadian Encyclopedia
- “The Secret Life of Canada” from CBC Radio - Podcasts
As we approach the next National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, let us reflect on what it means to work towards and integrate the goals and purposes of Truth and Reconciliation into our everyday lives. As Edna Terbasket asks, “we’ve just had September 30th, 2021; what can we do between that day and September 30th, 2022? What can we do in that time to create awareness about truth?”