Exhibition at the Osoyoos art gallery highlights Okanagan farming

Art pays homage to farmers

The bright engaging landscape paintings in acrylic by Lyse Deselliers pay homage to the farmers of the Okanagan Valley, but yet are also underpinned by some unavoidably weighty concerns.

As Deselliers says in her artistic statement we've all become far more aware of how and where our food comes from thanks to the pandemic. "Supply chains" and "food security" now get bandied around as part of the everyday lexicon.

Deselliers' works are now exhibited at "The Food We Grow" show at the Osoyoos Art Gallery until June 14.

Painting for more than 20 years she is a retired veterinarian and tends towards topics to do with nature, environmental issues and conservation.

This current show centres around the fact that farmers are important because of the essentialness of food. "Local food is to be valued and the work that is involved in growing food locally and making a living from it, is of great value."

She notes the difficulties a family farm faces today, everything from the cost of production to getting a fair return on their crops. She said it's important to educate the public "as to why this cabbage or this peach cost more when grown locally."

Supporting local farmers is one important thing we can all do to play a part in helping the planet she says. "Going to the market on Saturdays to buy produce directly from the people who grow it, is something we can do."

It's important to think about where we get our food from she says, highlighting the border closures during the pandemic. "How self-sufficient are we in terms of food security," she asks. "Where do we get our food from and what do we value in life?"

But before you get the mistaken impression this exhibition is a polemic railing against the globalization of food production, it would only be fair to point out that her paintings are a delightful portrait of the bountiful nature of the Okanagan Valley.

Bowls of orange-hued peaches, branches of deep red cherries, rows of orchards stretching over hill and dale, farmers in fields, and honeybees carrying out their important tasks - it's a vivid storytelling of the agricultural magic that happens all around us.

"The Food We Grow" by Lyse Deselliers is now on at The Art Gallery Osoyoos, 8713 Main St. until June 14. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Osoyoos is considering long-range look at boundary expansions

Another look at boundaries

A five year old petition asking for the Osoyoos East Bench to be annexed into the Town of Osoyoos’ boundaries, one of the many issues that had to be shelved by council during the one-two punch of flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic, received new life at the May 23 council meeting.

When the petition was received in 2018, 80 per cent of residents in the East Bench area were in favor of annexation if it included use of the town’s sewer services. Council revisited the issue in 2021 and advised that a restructure study grant be requested from the Minister of Municipal Affairs, but pandemic-related matters brought any further progress to a halt.

Director of planning and development Gina Mackay brought it back to council’s attention at the recent meeting because the provincial government has advised town administration to develop a long-term restructuring plan that can encompass all future boundary changes.

“There are a number of types of local government restructure grants available,” said Mackay. The challenge is, as a small municipality . . . we would have to first decide on the bigger picture area that we were going to consider for expansion. They only want us to do that once, to decide on that particular area, even if it’s a twenty or thirty-year decision down the road.”

The province hopes that this policy will dissuade what Mackay referred to as “one-off expansion requests” that only deal with a handful of properties at a time, which means that “the key to obtaining grant funding is to be able to identify the long term vision or expansion area.”

The town’s recommended solution for this challenge is to add a municipal restructuring feasibility project to the current list of strategic priorities, which will enable staff to identify the most likely candidates for annexation in the future and allow them to develop a clearly-stated rationale for the changes.

Mackay pointed out that along with the East Bench area, there are other areas around Osoyoos where municipal services are already being provided to properties that lie outside of the current town boundaries – bringing as many of them as possible into the town proper could be one such rationale.

While the town does currently have a handful of restructure requests in the works, Mackay was frank about the fact that, because of other highly pressing issues currently being faced by the town and the amount of staff time it would demand, the new project would likely land near the bottom of their priority list.

However, since the town cannot receive any grant money to study the potential positive and negative impacts of any restructure requests until they present their bigger picture plan, Mackay stressed that making it a priority is still important.

Council agreed to consider the project and will make their final vote at a future meeting.

Indigenous stars from South Okanagan humbled by cultural experience

Indigenous stars back home

Two local Indigenous hockey stars are back and feeling grateful and inspired after competing in the 2023 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship in Winnipeg last month.

Oliver’s Preston Gabriel of the Okanagan Nation, and Osoyoos’ Danica Maynard of the Métis Nation, both play for the South Okanagan Hockey Academy and were chosen through a rigorous selection process to represent BC in the tournament.

“It was pretty good competition and it was great to see how many players want to play hockey in the Indigenous community. It was good hockey,” Maynard said about the tournament.

Gabriel explained that “it was just really nice to be with everyone else who has Indigenous backgrounds for once because you don't see a lot of Indigenous hockey players.”

She added that it "inspired me to work hard, knowing that I am representing my people back home. And made me realize that I am here for them and I want to work hard for them. And it was also interesting to learn about and meet everyone else and where they come from.”

After a strong opening to the tournament, beating Team Atlantic 4-1 on May 8 and defeating Team Eastern Door and North 16-0, they lost their next two games against Team Saskatchewan 5-0 and Team Ontario 3-0.

Team BC qualified for the medal round with these two wins and two losses. They won their quarter-final game against team Saskatchewan with a score of 5-1, but were unable to defeat team Ontario in a close semi-final game, falling to the eventual tournament winners 2-1.

With this loss, they were relegated to the bronze medal game. Where they experienced an intense double overtime game where they eventually fell to team Alberta 3-2 on May 13.

The tournament gold was won by team Ontario who beat Manitoba in the final 2-1 on Saturday, May 13.

Maynard finished sixth in the entire tournament scoring with four goals and four assists for eight points in six games, with Oliver local Preston Gabriel, finishing the tournament with three goals.

Gabriel is Okanagan Nation having parents in both Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) and Penticton Indian Band (PIB). She explained, “I really enjoyed it and I loved the atmosphere and the great environment and I just had a blast.”

She said that learning about her culture from her childhood and having experiences like this tournament, “Made me feel more connected to my community and the people around me. It made me feel better as a person, knowing who I was, and where I come from.”

Maynard is also very proud of her Métis heritage and has been trying to get more in touch with her roots lately.

“It's great to learn where you are from,” noting that historically “they would try and hide it, they didn't want to be known for it because stuff that happened in the past wasn't so great for them. But now learning about it and embracing that you are Indigenous is something that is unbelievable to see.”

Local Oliver artists holding reception at Sagebrush Gallery

Chance to meet local artists

The Oliver Sagebrushers are urging people to come out and support local artists at their show and reception on Saturday at the Sagebrush Gallery.

Sally Franks explained “the Sagebrushers are a very active group of artists who enjoy sharing their inspirations, ideas, passions, materials, techniques, and companionship.”

There will be “punch and goodies” at the event, along with numerous local artists that will be available for a meet and greet. There are also many pieces of art that are available for purchase in the gallery.

“Working together is very therapeutic and relaxing,” Franks said.

The Sagebrushers do a lot of painting together, sharing and teaching and are welcoming of anyone, no matter the skill level.

The Oliver Sagebrushers participate in art shows and meet on Tuesdays.

Franks added that “this keeps the members very busy."

Everyone is invited to join from beginners to advanced. For more information contact 250-498-0104. The event runs on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 6220 Main Street.

Spirit Day at South Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS) in Oliver

Students embrace Spirit Day

The field at South Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS) was full of life this afternoon when the school held its annual Spirit Day.

“There is something for everybody” one of the teachers said about the event, to the backdrop of a field loaded with numerous games and activities.

There was a slip and slide, volleyball games, cornhole, capture the flag, road hockey, frisbee games, freeze tag, spikeball, face painting, henna tattoos, and a concession stand serving burgers, chips, freezies, and much more.

“It's a good day to be at SOSS, it's fun, everyone is out doing a bunch of things,” Tracy Harrington, principal of SOSS said while noting that last year when the day came it was cold and rainy.

The eventful day of spirit is organized and put on by the school’s Spirit Team. The teenagers get to enjoy wandering around and taking part in whatever events they wish too.

Harrington said that the first couple years they organized Spirit Day it was very structured, kids had to sign up, “but the kids didn't want the structure, they wanted the flexibility to free flow.”

So they can play volleyball if they want for a bit, then go play spike ball, or just follow what they want to do. “We just set up the events, and they come and do whatever they want,” Harrington explained.

“Yea it's cool, we do a bunch of different things,” Brad Burns, vice principal of SOSS said as he was manning the water on the slip and slide.

The event went from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and was open for anyone that goes to the school, which is almost 500 students. Even the teachers and staff were getting involved in the fun.

Sun Bowl Skating Club members win Skate Canada awards

Local skaters win awards

Two local members of the Sun Bowl Skating Club have won top skate accolades both winning Skate Canada BC/YK Regional Awards.

Yael Smith has been awarded CanSkater of the Year while Sophia Fernandes was awarded Program Assistant of the Year. One nominee per nominated category is presented the award in the entire Okanagan region.

“It’s a huge feat!” says Patricia Fortunato, Head Coach of the Sun Bowl Skating Club.

“These two recipients showed full dedication all year long,” she said adding that Smith attended each session “with a huge smile on her face, ready to learn, and ready to give her assistance in any way she could, to not only her coach but also her fellow skaters.”

Smith joined the club’s Pre-CanSkate program in September 2022 and since then, completed all of Pre-CanSkate, as well as all of CanSkate stages 1, 2, and parts of stage 3 as well, Fortunato noted.

“She was always the first one on the ice and one of the last ones to leave,” the head coach said explaining “she continued to work hard all season long and listened intently, she was even ready to lead her group at the club’s annual year-end ice show,” the coach said.

Sophia on the other hand is no longer skating with the club but when she was she attended every single session and was always ready to help, Fortunato said adding, “She was a star role model that all the skaters and her coach absolutely adored.”

She continued that Sophia is someone the coaching staff could see becoming an “amazing coach or teacher” down the road. She gets along with all of the skaters and continues to work her hardest with the sole intention to help them improve and reach their own personal skating goals.”

Fortunato says a key part of her success was the skater’s ability to forge a “great connection” with all of the skaters and coaches and of course, her willingness to jump in and help wherever she is needed.

“As this was my first year as head coach with the Sun Bowl Skating Club, Sophia helped guide me and show me around the rink, the initial routine, and all of the skaters. She also made sure to bring in the best stickers for every different holiday and season to hand out to the skaters. Thank you for all of your hard work!”

Congratulating both skaters on their substantial achievement Fortunato said: “This was not an easy accomplishment but you did it with your hard work and dedication. You both made your club and community proud!”

South Okanagan proclaims support for Pride Month

Celebrating Pride Month

Osoyoos and Oliver along with the RDOS have all officially proclaimed June as Pride Month in keeping with global recognition of this annual celebration of diversity and inclusiveness.

In her mayoral proclamation, Sue McKortoff Mayor of Osoyoos said: “The Town of Osoyoos is an inclusive, accepting community providing opportunities for all to come together to celebrate their diversity.”

The proclamation went on to say the town “encourages the affirmation of everyone, regardless of their ability, age, class, race, creed, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.”

This includes the recognition of the “dignity and worth of all people,” urging “honour and respect for our differences . . . as individuals and members of our diverse communities.”

Oliver council recently discussed the many different ways to celebrate the month as a community. This includes a public acknowledgement at council and on social media, hanging a pride flag at town hall, supporting the rainbow crosswalks, making donations to 2SLGBTQ+ (les­bian, gay, bisex­u­al, trans, queer, and more identities) organizations and volunteering.

Meanwhile, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) has invited Melisa Edgerly, Board President of the South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society (SOS Pride), to the RDOS Board meeting on June 15 where she will offer guidance on fostering inclusivity through language during the RDOS Corporate Services Committee.

“By showing support to 2SLGBTQ+ members, the RDOS is helping create an inclusive and welcoming community,” says RDOS Chair Mark Pendergraft. “Pride Month is also a reminder that all RDOS facilities, parks, and trails are safe spaces for all to use and enjoy.”

For further information about Pride month, including support and resources, visit the South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society website at sospride.ca and SOS Pride is also offering “Pride Swag Bags” by donation with stickers and flags that can be requested from their Communications Director, Heather Adamson, at [email protected] or by phone at 250-328- 3996.

Concern for southeast thunderstorms travelling over to Osoyoos

Watching for thunderstorms

There's concern from the provincial government about thunderstorms that are entering the southeast corner of the province on Thursday afternoon and may make their way as far west as Osoyoos.

During the B.C. government wildfire press conference on Thursday, Matt MacDonald, lead fire weather forecaster for the BC Wildfire Service and Neal McLoughlin, superintendent of predictive services for the BC Wildfire Service, addressed a question about what areas are drawing the most concern for lightning strikes and general wildfire risk.

"There are actually thunderstorms that are entering the southeast corner of the province. Our fire weather forecaster for the Southeast Fire Centre just recently issued a thunderstorm warning, again because our fuels are so receptive right now to ignition," MacDonald said.

The first round of thunderstorms entering the southeast corner is expected to travel over Fernie and spread westward through the evening, through Cranbrook out towards Castlegar, possibly extending into the South Okanagan.

"This is the first round of thunderstorms. That pattern persists in through tomorrow. Fortunately, tomorrow's thunderstorms will likely be accompanied by some rain," MacDonald said, adding it could be anywhere from two millimetres to 20 millimetres of rain, and not all areas will receive it.

"As we even get into Saturday, that signal for instability and additional thunderstorms persist and actually extends right through to Northern B.C. So all up and down the Rockies into that very dry northeast corner."

The forecast centre is expecting isolated lightning strikes on Saturday as well.

McLoughlin added one of the things they are most concerned about is large events that bring lightning close to communities and human values.

"Really there's a concern across most of the province and it'll be a matter of tracking storm systems as being materialized in terms of where that could occur and if it's close to communities that can be problematic," he said.

BC Wildfire Service officials spoke Thursday afternoon about the challenges the province is facing after a dry fall in 2022 and record-breaking heat through May has led to unseasonably dry conditions across the province.

Honouring vets: Legion Dinner and Remembrance Day Poem in Oliver

Honouring our Veterans

The Oliver Legion held their annual Veterans Dinner on Sunday honouring veterans for their service.

Presenting his remembrance day poem to a standing ovation was Gavin Baerg, a grade six student who was awarded second place in the province for this poem.

The dinner was attended by numerous veterans, their partners, members of the Legion, and head table guests Martin Johansen, Mayor of Oliver and Rick Knodel, RDOS Director of Area C.

Patrick Hampson, who is the second Vice-President of Legion Branch 97 in Oliver, and first-time organizer of this dinner said that “We hold a veterans dinner every year, and the primary function of this is to offer veterans a welcome, we want to recognize them, and their service.”

The event is “Our way of recognizing the service they have given to our country. Veterans can be either male or female,” he continued.

Hampson was pleased with how well the event was going and how happy everyone was.

Addressing the dinner Johansen said “Freedom has never been free, it comes from those that made the ultimate sacrifice,” while thanking the veterans and their families as the backbone of this country.

Knodel also got up to say a few words honouring the veterans saying, “I am proud to be Canadian, thank you for your service.”

Following the dinner, Hampson announced the most important part of the ceremony where he proceeded to name the conflicts around the globe that the Canadian military was involved in and for those who served to stand up and be recognized.

Baerg, then went to the podium and said he was honoured to present his poem in front of the veterans because, “remembrance day is not just a day off from school, it is a meaningful reminder of what Canadian soldiers have sacrificed for our country, so I am very grateful to be blessed with peace.”

The room was silent as he recited his poem and upon completion, the room erupted into a standing ovation.

Afterwards, he told the Times Chronicle that his sister Maya Baerg was the national winner for this contest in 2021 with her poem titled “Remember Me Not” and is framed in the building for all to see.

Graeme Baerg, Gavin's father, expressed the fact that he was a proud father.

This poem follows a long process of the Legion poster awards, which sees a rigorous selection process for the competition.

This process goes all the way back to March when students at both Senpaq’cin and Oliver Elementary schools were presented with awards for their contributions to the Legion’s Remembrance Day Poster Contest.

Estelle Pavan, President of the Oliver Legion, and Legion member Ken McGowen presented the awards to the students at their respective schools.

There were five students at Senpaq’cin that won for their coloured posters. They were Skye Gallagher, Delia Graham, Davie Thompson, Rowan Mutumbudzi, and Grayson Schanuel. Grayson not only won in the local branch but also placed third in the entire zone, which comprises around nine Legion branches.

Four students were presented with awards at Oliver Elementary, Parambir Brar, Sohayl Khodarahmi, Kiera De Melo, and Gurneet Grewal. Gurneet placed first overall in the zone for her colour poster.

Gavin’s poem goes as follows:

Remember their song

I hear gunshots and explosions as dawn breaks overhead.

I look to see my friends and comrades lying in fields of red.

With white crosses where the poppies grow

I feel the wind begin to blow.

Remember me, remember me, my lost friends sing,

when there is winter there is also always spring.

I fought for freedom, I fought for peace.

I fought for you, my friend, and the war to cease.

My teardrops fall with the morning rain.

I hear them singing to me: hope comes from their pain.

Our dying wish is that you remember who we were,

Remember what we fought for, remember our prayer.

When the dust settles, war’s end will be near,

Have courage and faith, and do not fear.

Remember to always stand tall and true,

For we are always standing and there for you.

Remember me, remember me, my lost friends sing,

For when there is winter, there is also always spring.

I fought for freedom, I fought for peace.

I fought for you, my friend, and for all wars to cease.

Osoyoos resident pitches ball hitting wall for town youth

Another brick in the wall

Yanor believes that children and youth are in need of inexpensive or cost-free outdoor play spaces that are, if not specifically for them, at least actively welcoming of their presence. He worries that the aging population of Osoyoos may lead to over-focus on activities for seniors and leave young people in the lurch.

The answer, in his view, is to build a ball hitting wall – a large, bare wooden wall with a flat expanse in front of it where people can practice everything from throwing a ball to swinging a racquet without having to take up lessons or join potentially expensive clubs.

Yanor hopes that it could be one simple solution for what he describes as a complex and growing risk to the mental and physical wellness of local youth.

“The children of our town have been isolated during our never-ending pandemic, as we never were,” said Yanor. “Their mental health is under siege, due to too little physical activity and too much screen activity . . . bullying and corrosive social media, along with the intensifying social pressures from the pandemic.”

“What’s the one simple activity any youngster can play at that requires no more than a ball, any kind of racquet and a wall? Just hitting a ball against a wall.”

Yanor envisions a five-court wall on the north side of Osoyoos’s tennis courts, utilizing a flat patch of land that is owned by the town and in close proximity to the high school. He believes that the space is large enough to avoid any negative impact on the tennis and pickleball courts and its natural berm would eliminate the need for a back fence.

His vision also extends further than the youth who are in need of affordable physical activities, though they are the group that inspired him.

“Recreational facilities don’t come cheap,” said Yanor, “but a good hitting wall with five mini-courts could accommodate children, pickleball and tennis players warming up, practicing strokes, rehabbing seniors, wheelchair athletes. Schools, elementary and high school, could add the hitting wall to the curriculum for a pittance.”

He estimates that the project would only cost around $100,000 for supplies and work and hopes that its small scale, both in price and effort, will allow the town to fast-track development in time for this summer or the next.

There used to be such a space available to the general public but it was converted into a pickleball court seven years ago, and since that time nobody has stepped up to offer or fight for a replacement. In taking on that role, Yanor has clearly found his cause.

Councillor Jim King confirmed after Yanor’s presentation that he will pass on the letter to Osoyoos’s Director of Community Services, Gerald Davis.

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