Justen Peters, of the Okanagan Indian Band, will work with the Vernon Winter Carnival Society for the next three months on a project that will see the integration of Syilx culture and education into the events for the 61st annual February carnival. (Facebook)

Spotlight on Syilx culture in new Vernon Winter Carnival project

Grant funds launch new project, provides skills training for Indigenous youth

Planning for Vernon’s Wild West-themed Winter Carnival is well underway and thanks to a provincial grant, a local Indigenous youth will be able to shine a spotlight on Syilx culture and education in this years’ events.

Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) member Justen Peters has been hired on to lead the direction of the project which will bring Syilx culture, history and peoples to the forefront of a new carnival event.

This position was made possible by support from the province and Community Workforce Response Grant (CWRG) along with support from the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB), Vernon Winter Carnival Society (VWCS).

Peters, who is part of the BC Assembly of First Nations, serving as a Male Youth Representative providing the youth perspective on issues such as economic development, government and environmental policies, is also an appointed member of the OKIB’s new Youth Council. He will work alongside the VWCS for the next three months gaining on-the-job experience in project management and more.

“We’re thrilled to have Justen join our team for the next three months,” Proulx said. “I’m excited to teach him on the job skills in event management and community outreach, however this project is as much of a learning experience for us as it will be for Justen.”

In working closely with the OKIB Elders and members, the VWCS said its looking forward to making positive steps toward reconciliation in the promotion and celebration of the Syilx community with the citizens of Vernon and beyond.

“This opportunity will further increase job skills and knowledge to empower Syilx youth to become self-reliant and self-sufficient,” OKIB executive director Victor Rumbolt said.

“We continue to seek further opportunities to strengthen the foundations of community-to-community engagement while creating the platform for positive role modelling for future youth ambassadors.”

The CWRG program, funded by the federal government through the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement, provides $10 million a year in funding for communities to support in-demand skills training leading to secure and sustainable employment for unemployed and part-time, seasonal or casual employees of British Columbia.

The Youth Community Partnership Stream of the program is designed to support communities and youth affected by COVID-19. Through the funding, youth are presented with opportunities to contribute to their community while gaining work-related skills and experience for their resumes.

READ MORE: Vernon Winter Carnival announces Wild West theme

READ MORE: COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday


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