WHEN: Friday, June 2, 2017 | 9:00am to 32:00pm
The sncewips Heritage Museum is now the official host of the siya celebration. The first annual celebration took place in 1990, when Westbank First Nation School (now Sensisyusten) first opened. The celebration was later named to síyaʔ. Since time immemorial, syilxw people have celebrated natural land resources. We honor our land and resources in order to ensure that we have a fruitful year to follow. At this celebration, we welcome you to share in our very special tradition.
The syilx/Okanagan people have practiced this ceremony for many centuries. It is one aspect of honouring the resources that have sustained us since time immemorial. Siyaʔ is one of the syilx Four Food Chiefs and represents the mothers and families of the community. There are many ceremonies like the siyaʔ that the syilx/Okanagan people practice to acknowledge our relationship and responsibility to the land - the First Roots Ceremony and the Salmon Feast to name a few. Traditionally, the siyaʔ ceremony was held later in the year when the first siyaʔ berries ripened but because the ceremony is now combined with the end of the year celebration for the school, it is now held earlier to accommodate the school schedule.
Delphine Derickson was very instrumental in adding the ceremony to the celebration and ensuring it is executed properly. Because siyaʔ represents the mothers of the community, it is the elder mothers of the community who receive the first offering of the siyaʔ to the community. This first offering is presented by the young girls of the community, which symbolizes the passing on of knowledge from grandmother to granddaughter. By honouring the siyaʔ we give thanks for the year that has passed; we give thanks for all the food that was provided to us throughout the year that allows us to exist. We also ask that the coming year will be fruitful, that there will be enough to sustain our people and that we never take more than we require. This also translates to asking for the growth of the community. We give thanks for being able to provide for our children and ask that this will continue.
The siyaʔ Celebration is a gathering for all of the community to gather and honour our sənsisyustən school children and the hard work they have done through the year. Pow-wows are not part of Okanagan Nation culture, though they have been adopted as the Okanagan people inter-married and interacted with other tribes or nations. We changed the name from pow–wow to síyaʔ celebration.
Since the school started in the early to mid nineties, there has been a year-end celebration consisting of dancing and singing. Invitees include families of the children, other Okanagan Nation members and the greater community at large including other schools from SD#23.
2016 Photo Album
Share your 2017 siya photos and videos with us on Instagram using the tag #siyacelebration.
sncewips Heritage Museum
201-1979 Old Okanagan Hwy
Westbank, BC V4T 3A4
T 778 755 2787
E Jordan Coble
E Krystal Lezard
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