k’əmcnitkw (Alongside the Water) Floodplain Re-engagement Project

Located on Penticton Indian Band Reserve # 1 bordering sn’pink’tn (Penticton), BC, this innovative, multi-year, multi-partner project is well on-track in its efforts to restore the biodiverse mosaic of shallow open water wetlands, marshlands, seasonally flooded meadows, deciduous shrublands, and black cottonwood forests that once existed alongside the meandering q̓awsitkʷ (Okanagan River) prior to channelization and diking of the river in the 1950s.

Working in partnership with a vital network of project funders and supporters, students and community volunteers, the Penticton Indian Band, En’owkin Centre, and Okanagan Nation Alliance collaborated to successfully re-engage an 8,800 m2 portion of the historic floodplain of q̓awsitkʷ (Okanagan River) to managed Penticton Channel flows in early spring 2021.

A key element of the project’s success has been the full integration of Indigenous syilx Traditional Ecological Knowledge and western science perspectives, priorities, protocols and practices throughout all phases of the project including planning and engineering design, pre-construction assessments, community engagement, multi-phased construction and post-construction habitat restoration works.

Beginning in spring 2022, evaluation monitoring will combine syilx TEK and western science techniques to begin tracking the project’s success in helping to rebuild Okanagan Chinook salmon stocks, recover multiple species at-risk populations, and replenish both Indigenous Okanagan foods and biodiversity.