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Beautiful Sinixt Interpretive Sign Unveiled at Snk’mip Marsh Sanctuary

Marilyn James, Autonomous Sinixt matriarch and Sinixt elder Al Richardson celebrate the unveiling of a beautiful and information-packed interpretive sign at the Snk’mip Marsh Sanctuary (located in Sinixt territory at the north end of Slocan Lake). — Photo courtesy Lori Barkley

The large new sign presents comprehensive information on the Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ(territory), the marsh ecosystem, and eight keystone species.

Plants and animals are described with both their English name and their name in the Interior Salish dialect, Snslxcin. 

The sign project was a joint effort between the Autonomous Sinixt and the Valhalla Foundation for Ecology (VFE).

Unveiling the sign marks a milestone for Sinixt resurgence in their territory and bolsters the Autonomous Sinixt group's language revitalization work.  "Language revitalization is a powerful act of Indigenous resistance. Incorporating Snxlxcin into the Snk’mip project is an important step in asserting Sinixt resurgence by honouring and uplifting Sinixt sovereignty over our inherent cultural responsibilities to our təmxʷúlaʔxʷ(homeland).

This project also offers the community an opportunity to speak to the plants and animals existing in Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷin a language they understand," said Marilyn James.

“We’re already seeing how school teachers can use this information as a teaching tool, and for the general public the interpretive sign provides a good orientation to the site and its importance both ecologically and as a former Sinixt village called Snk’mip, located within Sinixt territory,” said VFE director Lorna Visser.

Credit is due to Sarah Beauchamp who developed the content for the sign and researched the complex, nuanced spellings required for the names of the featured plants and animals in the Snslxcin dialect. 

Sinixt language expert Taress Alexis, with the help of two linguists, confirmed the correct presentation of the words in Snslxcin.Artist Rü Cabodyna created the lovely watercolour illustrations, Sonya Schepkowski did the graphic design and layout, and Autonomous Sinixt projects director K.L. Kivi helped with project design and funding.

Financial support was provided by the First Peoples Cultural Council, the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, VFE individual donors, the Blood of Life Collective and the Nakusp Museum. In addition to providing paid employment, the interpretive sign project required hundreds of hours of volunteer time to complete.

The public is welcome to come see the sign and enjoy the Snk’mip Marsh Sanctuary, a great place to appreciate nature and experience a beautiful overlook of the marsh and view its many inhabitants.  Careful, quiet observation will reveal dozens of bird species (including the two juvenile bald eagles that hatched on the property this spring), migratory swans, resident beavers and a range of amphibians and reptiles.

Follow more projects from Autonomous Sinixt at https://sinixt.org/

You can find more information on the Valhalla Foundation for Ecology here: https://www.valhallafoundationforecology.org/