Osoyoos is rich in Indigenous culture and history. Even the name “Osoyoos” originates from sẁiẁs (pronounced “soo-yoos”) meaning “narrowing of the waters” in the local Okanagan language (Syilx’tsn).
National Indigenous Peoples Day (French: Journée nationale des peuples autochtones) which occurs annually on June 21st, is a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Indigenous peoples of Canada. This date was chosen for several reasons, including its cultural significance as the Summer solstice, and the fact that it is a day on which many Indigenous peoples and communities traditionally celebrate their heritage.
In Osoyoos, there are many ways to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day. And, many of these activities are available for you to enjoy year-round!
Explore – The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
Immerse yourself in the past, present, and future of the Osoyoos Indian Band. This state-of-the-art interpretive centre is an architectural marvel, sensitively constructed into a hillside at Nk’Mip Resort. Extensive indoor and outdoor exhibit galleries create a fun, interactive learning environment with hands-on displays, education stations and two multi-media theatre experiences. You will discover indoor and outdoor nature and cultural exhibits that showcase desert ecology and wildlife and the history of the Osoyoos Indian Band. You can even get a close look at a rattlesnake or sign up for a hike/rappelling excursion in the desert. Complete your visit by stopping in Coyote’s Gifts to shop for unique Aboriginal crafts, jewelry and giftware. Learn more about the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.
Sip – The Perfect Union Four Food Chiefs Wine & Food Pairing Tour
The Four Food Chiefs; Bear, Salmon, Bitterroot and Saskatoon berry, represent the key elements of Indigenous Cuisine. Experience the art of food and wine pairing with Nk’Mip Cellars award-winning wines and specially prepared Four Food Chief inspired food bites.
On this tour, you will be guided through the winery, then be seated in the exclusive underground cellar for your pairing experience. Overlooking the red barrel room, an Nk’Mip wine expert will share the legend of the Four Food Chiefs and lead you through the fun and exciting world of pairing food & wine.
These tours are only $35 per person, operating daily beginning at 3:30pm. Find out more.
Taste – The Bear, The Fish, The Root, The Berry
The Bear The Root The Fish The Berry located at Spirit Ridge serves upscale comfort food amid incredible vineyard, lake, and mountain views. Start your meal with the baked Brie, then order pork banh mi sandwiches or the inventive Osoyoos pizza, which arrives topped with smoked salmon and dill cream cheese. The Restaurant is found in Spirit Ridge Resort’s Main Lodge and is the perfect place to enjoy a local glass of wine on the patio as you recount your day in Osoyoos.
Executive Chef Murray McDonald comes to the resort from an executive chef post at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, focusing on the journey of cooking and foraging from the land to further develop and promote Indigenous Culinary across Canada. McDonald graduated from the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and has been actively involved with Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) promoting Indigenous culinary experiences across Canada. Learn more.
Camp – Sẁiẁs Provincial Park
sẁiẁs Provincial Park is located within the traditional territory of the Osoyoos Indian Band. Since time immemorial, the Osoyoos Indian Band’s Okanagan ancestors have inhabited and cared for the lands and waters within their traditional territory. Lakeside campsites and privacy make this one of the most popular provincial parks in the province. Campers are encouraged to book reservations early in the season to secure campsites during the busy summer months.
In 2015, the park was renamed to reflect the traditional Okanagan place name for the area. The nqilxʷcən/nsyilxcən place name and history of sẁiẁs have been passed down for thousands of years through the oral tradition of capti’kʷl stories and teachings. sẁiẁs sounds similar to “s-wee-yous” and means a place where it is shallow or narrow in the middle of the lake. The place name explains how the area was used to cross Osoyoos Lake by foot or by horse.
Hike – Nʕaylintn
Nʕaylintn (McIntyre Bluff) is a large ridge of rock, made of gneiss, towering 265 metres high is located in the White Lake Protected Area south of Vaseux Lake between Okanagan Falls and Oliver in British Columbia, Canada. This Southern Okanagan Valley park stretching 3,741 hectares created to protect endangered plants and animals. This landmark is named after Peter McIntyre, one of the Overlanders of 1862 who had also been a guard on the Pony Express in the American West. McIntyre Bluff is not only a unique sight to see but is also rich in Sylix First Nation history. The hike itself is roughly 10km (approximately 3 hours) round trip, and takes you through vineyard, desert, and rattlesnake lake as you wind your way up to the top of the bluff where breathtaking views of the valley await. Access to the bluff is currently available through Willowbrook Community Park, off of Johnson Crescent in Willowbrook.
See – Spotted Lake
Spotted Lake is a small lake rich in a variety of minerals, including calcium, sodium sulfates and magnesium sulfate. During the hot summer months, much of the water in the lake evaporates, leaving concentrations of these minerals that form the spots visible in the lake. Throughout the summer, the spots shift in size and colour as the minerals within each change with further evaporation. Colours ranging from blue to green to yellow appear, depending on the mineral makeup of each individual spot. Spotted Lake is known to the First Nations People of the Osoyoos area as Kliluk, and it is a sacred site that has been considered a revered place of healing for centuries. The belief is that each of the different circles holds its own unique medicinal and healing properties. View Spotted Lake on Google Maps.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to celebrate. When you visit Osoyoos, you can immerse yourself in our Indigenous culture in many ways. Plan your future travel to Osoyoos and be sure to visit our Osoyoos accommodations page for hotels, motels, resorts, camping, and much more!