Momentous and historic were just a few of the words used Friday, April 14, when the Penticton Indian Band flag was raised at the School District No. 67’s (Okanagan-Skaha) main building.
The district hosted a “milestone” ceremony that featured the formal raising of the PIB, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Canadian and B.C. provincial flags, as well as the renaming of a nearby learning centre formerly known as IMC to siyá? House.
Siyá? is a n’syilxcn word that represents learning, innovation and fresh ideas. It’s also one of the Four Food Chiefs and the Chief of all things that grow above the land.
“It represents what our youth is all about,” said PIB Chief Greg Gabriel to a sizable crowd of teachers, students, community leaders, and local politicians outside the SD 67 building.
“It’s through these kinds of initiatives that we develop and build good long-term positive relationships between all the communities.”
The siyá? House is located next to the school district’s main building on 425 Jermyn Avenue. It will host meetings for local students, educators and the board.
“Today’s event is really a good, positive step,” Gabriel said. “I want to commend the school district and the leaders of this community for acknowledging our part and our communities.”
Before the centre was officially renamed, a flag-raising ceremony featuring local high school students commenced outside the main SD 67 building.
Friday’s ceremony had been in the works for at least two years, said Todd Manuel, superintendent of School District No. 67.
“It’s really a momentous day around our commitment to the work as part of that journey that continues,” Manuel said.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, of course. I think it really is part of a larger state of commitment from our community members for how important this work is not just in schools but in our community.”
Community members were invited after the ceremony for a lunch inside the newly-named siyá? House.
To mark the renaming of the learning centre, art from both PIB artists Levi and Clint George, as well as from a number of Penticton Secondary shop teachers were on display inside.
“We need to work together to bring our communities together for the betterment of our youth and our future generations,” Gabriel said.