Who said trails had to stop at a border?
The Trail of the Okanagans Society was one of 13 groups represented in late December at an international trail network meeting in Osoyoos, which discussed how to link trails from the Okanagan and Syilx First Nation to other trails in Washington state and B.C..
Arnie Marchand, a First Nations leader from Oroville, Wash., said the goal of the meeting was to just get people talking about the project.
“One of the things I noticed at the Indigenous Tourism Conference in Kelowna was that the people in the Okanagan down there and the people in the Okanagan here are doing the same work, but they don’t even know each other,” said Marchand.
“So I wanted to set up a face-to-face meeting to bring people together and start communicating.”
The tourism conference in Kelowna was held between Nov. 12-14 last year and explored how to promote Indigenous culture across recreational, culinary and other tourism sectors.
In a statement, the Trail of the Okangans Society said multiple ideas came out from the meeting.
“(We discussed) sharing information on current projects and the economic and tourism potential and benefits of linking trail networks of the South Okanagan, the Boundary region, and Washington,” said the organization.
“Specific suggestions were made for loop tours on linking trails across the border with an emphasis on First Nations partners, Indigenous history and experiences along the routes.”
Multiple transportation routes have been used for millenia by the Syilx/Okanagan people, whose traditional territory expands 69,000 kilometres from Revelstoke, BC., in the north to Wilbur, Wash., in the south.
Representatives from the towns of Oliver and Osoyoos, the North Okanagan Trail Association and the Regional District of Okanagan/Similkameen were also at the meeting.