Veteran’s candlelight tribute casts a warm glow at Oliver cemetary

WW II veterans honoured

The annual candlelight tribute ceremony held to honour veterans who fought in the Second World War took place last week at the Oliver Cemetery.

Although it is usually held on the first Friday of every May, the event was postponed to May 26 due to heavy rain.

Attendees at the tribute included the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 197) and its colour party, the Oliver Ambassador hopefuls, students and teachers from Oliver Elementary School, members of the Police and Fire department, other dignitaries, and the 232 Bighorn Squadron Air Cadets.

The ceremony started with the national anthem and an opening prayer, and then a brief history of the ceremony and its origins. The ceremony marks the sacrifice of Canadian troops fighting in Western Europe and liberating the Netherlands after German troops had occupied the area and limited access to necessities such as food and water.

Fifty years later, in 1995 Dutch children in the Netherlands laid candles on Canadian soldiers’ graves in their memory. The tradition has since carried on as an international tradition to honour Canada’s role in the liberation of Holland.

In 1945, the Dutch royal family sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered the future Queen Juliana and her family for the preceding three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The Netherlands continues to send 20,000 bulbs to Canada each year (10,000 from the Royal Family and 10,000 from the Dutch Bulb Growers Association).

Legion members and cadets lit candles, while students from Oliver Elementary paired up with other cadets from the 232 Bighorn squadron to place red candles on the graves of veterans and to honour their bravery and sacrifice. Cadets also saluted after placing their candles, and students would repeat the gesture or say the soldiers’ names to show respect to those who have fallen.

To end the ceremony, participants sang God Save the King, said a prayer for those who had fallen, and once again reflected on the importance of the event. At the end of the ceremony the Oliver Cemetery was lit up with the glow of the red candles, rekindling the memory of those who fought against oppression in World War II.

Virtri Bakshi is a work study student from Osoyoos Secondary School.

Graduation part of a spiritual journey for Indigenous students

Indigenous graduation day

It was an emotional and spiritual journey for students, parents and community at the Indigenous Graduation Ceremony held at Osoyoos Secondary School (OSS) on May 25.

The ceremony, to celebrate the achievements of Indigenous students graduating from high school this year, was held for a total of 26 students from schools in District 53, with families and community members watching the ceremony unfold at OSS.

Indigenous Grad is a special ceremony held for students with Indigenous roots to commemorate their progress as a student and perseverance through factors such as generational trauma that may have made their journey difficult.

Indigenous Grad also adds traditional teachings and a new sense of community to the milestone event.

Students from OSS, Oliver’s South Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS), and Keremeos’ Similkameen Elementary Secondary School were welcomed into the Theatre with an opening prayer and the Okanagan Song.

Guests then watched the graduates get blanketed by their families as their future plans were shared, medicine pouches given while they listened to words of advice for their future endeavours.

The valedictorians then took the stage to share their personal stories of their experiences in high school and stories that struck them throughout their journey.

The ceremony then ended with parting words from Bev Young, Superintendent of School District 53, and a closing prayer as students walked off the stage. The ceremony was a spiritual and powerful experience for grads and attendees alike.

For parents of students that are graduating, Indigenous Grad is an emotional yet prideful moment in their life. Naomi Etty, Indigenous advocate at OSS and mother of OSS Valedictorian Peightyn Etty said: “It’s such an honour to represent our other advocates and honour our youth”.

Though the moment is one to be proud of, Naomi could not help but feel a little emotional as well. “I am very proud and very honoured to see her represent our nation and our cultures.” Adults who have also been involved in the grads’ lives were proud to see them on the stage.

Young added that the ceremony for her was a very happy moment. “I could see a lot of pride in the students and their families, which was very touching.”

Students at the ceremony were incredibly excited and nervous, as graduation means both the end of a chapter as well as a beginning of a new one. SOSS graduate Mila Poznikoff mentioned that the ceremony was “very exciting”, and she also touched on how important it is to acknowledge the struggles Indigenous students may go through to get to this point.

“I think it’s really great to see a lot of Indigenous students graduating, especially since this has been a struggle for Indigenous people,” Victoria Ritcher, an Indigenous graduate from Similkameen Elementary Secondary School commented.

She added that throughout the ceremony she was “very nervous, but it was good to see everybody that came out”. She also described the ceremony as “a well-spirited time”.

Some grads felt more sentiment about the ceremony, such as Peightyn Etty who remembers “feeling very nervous, but proud of the experience,” and about high school and “super excited’’ about graduating.

District descends on Oliver for annual Track and Field meet

Track meet leaping success

Sunshine filled the background of children leaping, running, and competing in the annual district track and field meet at Oliver Elementary on Thursday June 1.

Oliver elementary organizes and hosts the meet every year.

All the elementary schools in School District 53 were present, including Cawston Primary, Oliver Elementary, Okanagan Falls Elementary, Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary, Osoyoos Elementary, and Similkameen Elementary Secondary.

Patsy-Anne Takacs, principal of Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary, explained that it was a “ton of fun”, and that “we are all so proud of our kids.”

Work continues at rectifying Osoyoos' sewage treatment problem

Sewage treatment long road

Osoyoos continues to work at getting its wayward sewage treatment system under control as it progresses towards resetting the four lagoon treatment system.

The problem stems from a failure in Cell #2 of the treatment system which caused the decomposition process to stop resulting in strong odours being emitted.

The only longer-term fix is to take the failed cell offline in order for it to be drained and cleaned, before restarting the process.

In an update from the town, Rod Risling, Osoyoos’s Chief Administrative Officer told the Times Chronicle that work is progressing with the Ministry of Environment.

“They are assisting us as much as they can so we can expedite the longer-term solution. The team has been working with experts to assist the expertise that we have in-house.”

He noted that there has been some noticeable improvement in the odour situation from late last week.

“They’ve been trying some different things,” Risling said of town staff and this includes using various chemicals and also putting in some aerators.

“They are trying to make the conditions as optimal as possible, given the situation that we have. They’ll keep monitoring, and as the hot weather causes additional issues, we’ll have to see what happens with that.

“Unfortunately, there’s going to be issues for a while,” he added, noting that the approval process will take weeks if not months before the pond can be drained. “They’re expediting some of those approvals,” but it’s still a long-term process, he added.

A new wastewater treatment plant would cost upwards of $40 million with an annual operating cost increase of $300,000.

Cactus Jalopies picking up speed for main event in Osoyoos Saturday

Hot cars begin rolling out

It would be hard to mistake the sure signs of the Cactus Jalopies car show beginning to build today, with stunning classic cars and hot rods appearing everywhere around town ahead of the main "Show 'n Shine" event on Saturday along the shores of Osoyoos Lake.

Francine Launier, Promotional Coordinator for Cactus Jalopies and the mother of famed car restoration craftsman JF Launier, said 600 vehicles and at least 1,200 accompanying humans along with another 10,000 spectators all expected to descend on Osoyoos starting from Thursday and building to a peak by Saturday.

The fun kicked off on Thursday June 1 at the Royal Canadian Legion with a Show ‘n Shine welcome and registration featuring a beer garden and barbecue by the Legion. That night also featured a Sunset Winemaker Dinner at Nostalgia Wines.

The welcome party also continues, this time at Gyro Beach Park with Rotary putting on the beer garden and barbecue this time from 4-9 p.m.

Direct funding probably not the answer for housing in Oliver

Viable housing solution?

The Town of Oliver is exploring the many options available to address the housing affordability crisis and the models out of reach for a small town.

At their recent meeting, council received a presentation on housing corporations, used by numerous municipalities around the province in their housing strategies.

Sandy Mackay, housing research and policy lead at M’akola Development Services (MDS) presented information on the MDS, different strategies for non-market housing, tools local governments can use, and how direct funding housing corporations can operate.

MDS is an indigenous-based housing and community planning consulting firm that is committed to building affordable and sustainable communities. They have one development already in Oliver.

This comes after numerous complex developments have come through council for approval with council sometimes divided on what kind of strategy the town should adopt.

This also comes on the heels of Mayor Martin Johansen taking a swing at the concept of affordability and the fact that some developers use the buzzword but fail to define it.

Johansen brought up this issue to Mackay in the presentation who responded, “You are right the word affordable can be used disingenuously in certain circumstances by certain people to advocate for a certain building.”

But Mackay did explain that “the accepted definition of affordable, across the country, that is promoted in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation definitions, even in BC Housing definitions, is that a unit is affordable if it costs less than 30 per cent of the occupants take-home income.”

In his presentation, Mackay provided a bit of insight into how the province has had a “systematic disinvestment in social housing since the mid-90s”.

The presentation outlined that the reduction in new rental buildings along with smaller households becoming more common because of a growing and aging population has resulted in housing getting “harder to obtain and more expensive for just about everyone.”

Housing corporations are part of the direct funding model to manage and address housing.

This means that the entity, authority, or non-profit can act as a land steward and facilitator, or developer and operator to help build affordable housing.

He used the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Housing Authority as an example, which is an independent municipally owned corporation created to “oversee the development, administration, and management of resident restricted housing.”

Mackay described that this comes at a significant financial commitment to get started.

He explained that Tofino, which has a housing authority, is probably the closest in size to Oliver and it costs around $250,000 per year.

He recommended continuing indirect housing models instead of going to a direct funding model.

One of the reasons for this is that there are no municipalities that have housing corporations in this direct funding model that are not resort municipalities or large population centres.

Towards the end of the presentation he said that “in small communities, indirect funding can actually have a greater short-term impact.”

The indirect model takes the form of municipalities partnering with non-profit housing providers, social service organizations and other affordable housing actors to establish advisory committees, and local housing tables to de-regulate the process to make housing more affordable.

South Okanagan Vintage Car Club presents cheque to hospital

Car club gives back locally

The South Okanagan Vintage Car Club, which has been rolling for 31 years, recently presented a $2,000 cheque to the South Okanagan General Hospital.

The money for this donation was raised by the club at their Annual Car Swap Meet in Oliver. This swap meet is the club's primary event of the year for raising money which is then partly donated to support local causes.

Recently the club also donated $2,000 to the Starship Backpack Program in Oliver.

This $2,000 donation to the hospital is split between the $10 million Oncology Campaign at Penticton Regional Hospital and the South Okanagan General Hospital.

Osoyoos still trying to make utilities a priority

Local utilities expanding

Osoyoos Town Council is moving another step towards further placing utilities as a priority in the midst of continuing muddied optics around water and wastewater infrastructure.

During their meeting on May 23, council passed first, second, and third readings to move that the town’s bylaw adds utility services to “general use” in all zones.

“The town’s current Zoning Bylaw does not specifically state that utility services are an allowable use in all zones,” Gina MacKay, Director of Planning and Development said in her report to council.

During the meeting, MacKay further explained that having utilities allowable in all zones is already codified in other municipalities, such as in Penticton or Summerland.

The need to change and construct new infrastructure is ongoing, as the report notes. This bylaw change would be beneficial in “having the ability to place new or relocated existing infrastructure within any land use zone.”

The stated implications are Osoyoos will benefit from increased opportunities to provide utilities, and this will encourage improvements to existing facilities or expand opportunities for additional public utility spaces, giving them more latitude to have utilities in all zones.

Indigenous Golf Championship in Oliver declared a huge success

Success for Indigenous golf

The inaugural Indigenous Golf Championship was a "hole in one" with participants and organizers effusive over its success not just for the golf but for relationship and community building in the process.

Osoyoos Indian Band golfers Sharon Jack and James "Jedidiah" Baptiste both took home medals and 16 golfers (eight each for women and men) have qualified and will represent BC in the Challenge Cup tournament playing against Ontario this September.

"We are beginning something here that I just hope will carry on," said Steven Point, the first Indigenous Lieutenant Governor for BC from 2007-2012.

"Our native people have been through so much in our communities, and it seems that all we do is go to sorrowful ceremonies because we have so much loss.

"But to come out to a golf tournament well," he chuckles, "you get to play golf, meet new friends, and spend the day watching deer walk by sometimes."

Point continued: "I think we started a bit of a bushfire here, but I hope it runs across the country and we see more Indigenous people - youth and adults - getting involved and bringing their young people to the game."

When he's out on the course he forgets about everything and just enjoys himself, saying it's almost a medicine or a kind of healing. "I think that's the kind of peace of mind I'd like to see for a lot of our people," he added.

Patrick Kelly, the tournament director, previous chair of BC Golf and member of the Leq:amel First Nation said the tournament was "an amazing experience for all the people that came from literally all over BC."

He commented that wherever you went on the course you could hear "happy, laughing people". He added that many of the golfers relayed their feelings of a "real sense of community," at the event.

The tournament came about because of a conversation he had with his friend Steven Point 15 years ago. And with the strong support of current Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin, the tournament got off the ground.

That conversation revolved around how they get more Indigenous youth involved in sports, and golf was the idea they cottoned on to.

"One of the things that we tried to accomplish in our time in Government House was to encourage the youth to find something they can be passionate about, something that will help them get over the troubles of adolescence they go through," Point told the Times Chronicle on the sidelines of the closing ceremony.

"So we got onto the idea of golf. It gets you out of your house, it gets you involved in a sport and it's not so competitive, golf is a very good sport for that," he said.

Point also notes that for some reason over the last five or 10 years, Indigenous leaders and communities have gotten into golf. "I don't know what it is about the game but I go to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and it's Indigenous people golfing. It seems to have caught on!"

He speculates that it could be due to the fact golfing is a social event as well as a sport and it gets people together.

He references the fact many of the youth spend their time indoors on computer devices, and he's hoping that if they get involved in golf, they might get involved in basketball or badminton, or some other sport. And with sport there are the spinoff benefits of mutual respect, courtesy, fair play, etc. he notes.

Championship golfer Christina Spence Proteau, who with her win at this event has now racked up 10 championship wins, spoke of the significance of this tournament.

"I've been very blessed by golf over the years, but this is by far the most special provincial championship I've ever won."

Proteau also took time to highlight the two other golfers who won silver and bronze in her division.

"Two extremely impressive young women from the Okanagan, impressive on and off the course, not only being excellent female golfers in their own right but an Indigenous law student with Kylie [Jack] and mechanical engineer with Rachelle [Nielsen]."

She also spoke of her father who died from cancer 15 years ago. In her father's generation and before, it was "not okay to be proud of being Indigenous in his generation or his parents," she noted.

"I really felt my heritage here this week," she said, voice choking with emotion. "My father could never have imagined something like this happening in our province - this coming together through sport in this way."

For youth golfer and winner of his division, Austin Krahn, the event was nothing less than "amazing".

"It's one of the best events I've ever competed in and it's really been a joy," he said thanking the other competitors.

"It's been wonderful playing against you, it's been a great atmosphere out here and it's an honour to be the first men's group winner of this tournament, and I hope it lasts for many, many years to come."

It will in fact return next year on June 2-4, 2024 once again at the Nk'Mip Desert Canyon Golf Course.

When asked how the BC team might fare against Team Ontario, Kelly said the BC team is strong with some of the players at a +3 handicap, noting that Tiger Woods for instance is a +3 handicap. "A couple of +2s and a +1, we've got some amazing quality golf happening here for sure," he said passionately.

Championship Results

Women's Net Stableford Division

Gold - Joan Hinkey (Cree Nation)

Silver - Andrea Leech (Ts'kwaylazw First Nation)

Bronze - Sharon Jack (Osoyoos Indian Band)

Men's Net Stableford Division

Gold - David Krahn (Mohawks of Ahkesasne)

Silver (tied) - Jared Walter McMillan and Reg Ogen

Women's Gross Division

Gold - Christina Spence Proteau (Métis)

Silver - Kylie Jack (Penticton Indian Band)

Bronxe - Rachelle Nielsen (Kispiox)

Men's Gross Division

Gold - Austin Krahn (Mohawks of Akwesasne)

Silver - Cody Bailey (North Central Métis)

Bronze - James "Jedidiah" Baptiste (Osoyoos Indian Band)

Team BC - Women

The women's team is composed of: Christina Spence Proteau, Sharon Jack, Joan Hinkey, Andrea Leech, Gloria Morgan (Splatsin First Nation), Kylie Jack, Rachelle Nielsen, and Keala Zachariuk (L'Heidl Tenneh Prince George).

Team BC - Men

The men's team consists of: Leslie Walkus (Gwa'sala Nakwaxda'xw Nation), Reg Ogen, Jared Walter McMillan, David Krahn, James "Jedidiah" Baptiste, Cody Bailey, and Austin Krahn.

Movie filming transforms Osoyoos into Napa Valley town

Okanagan becomes Napa

Osoyoos' Main Street underwent a slight transformation this week as it temporarily transformed into a small Napa Valley, California town for a Hallmark movie being shot here.

The first clue something was up were the two American flags and a California State flag flying high over Home Hardware. Heaps of production equipment was also organized alongside the hardware store on Monday and then in 87th St. Park on Tuesday.

Filming on Monday was primarily on the sidewalk near Home Hardware and later further up near Unity Sportswear. Tuesday morning saw filming near Elvis Fine Jewelry and in the afternoon inside Scoopsies Treat Shop.

Alfons Adetuyi, Director of the movie - said to be called "First Kiss" although the production title was identified as "Napa Ever After" - said they would be filming in town for two days before shifting to See Ya Later Ranch for all the winery filming.

The plot follows a young lawyer who inherits a vineyard and all the big changes in her life. And of course, she finds the handsome vineyard guy who's helping out," Adetuyi says.

He adds the movie "is also about a little bit of black history set in the Napa Valley, about the first black vineyard in the valley."

The film is for the US cable television network Hallmark Channel, with much of the production crew Canadian, he said.

The production spent some three weeks in Vancouver, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge before coming to Osoyoos with Adetuyi saying the movie will be out on Hallmark in a couple of months.

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