Trails now honour Syilx land

The trails of Nickel Plate cross-country ski area outside Penticton are now adorned with bilingual signs, featuring both English and the traditional Nsyilxcn language of Okanagan First Nations.

The initiative was spurred by Spirit North, which has entered its second year in Penticton. The charitable organization brings kids and their families from Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School and West Bench Elementary School out onto the trails and Nickel Plate.

An event was held Monday to show off the signs to the kids.

“Spirit North wanted to do something that would leave a bit of a legacy at Nickel Plate and contribute to the club in a way that might not happen otherwise,” said Perianne Jones, Spirit North community outreach. "To honour the traditional territory of the Syilx Nation."

All 26 nordic trails, with names like Vindicator and Grubstake, were translated by Penticton Indian Band elder Richard Armstrong. The process can be a complicated one, as words often cannot be translated directly between the two languages.

“Now that we have the signs up, it's going to be fun to ski around with the kids in the winter,” Jones said. “They can learn, we can learn and then the general public can also have a greater appreciation for the land that they are skiing on.”

Penticton was a B.C. pilot project for the Alberta-based Spirit North program. Now in its second year, plans are underway to expand this season to West Kelowna where First Nations youth will strap on skis at the Telemark Ski Club.

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