October 10, 2019

Indigenous Experience

We all love the Okanagan in summer, but what happens after the happy campers and warm-weather crowds depart may be even more magical. Nestled in the region's south, Osoyoos, which translates to “finger in the lake” in the local Syilx'tsn tongue, is home to sacred indigenous land and treasures that delight the senses. We took a peek at the authentic traditions and destinations that await in Osoyoos, inviting you to take a visit in the autumn months for a vibrant culture-rich celebration and unforgettable travel experience. —Jeanine Gordon

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stay. Spirit Ridge Resort is a travellers’ paradise. Beautifully appointed rooms, two pools (outfitted with luxe cabanas and breathtaking views), a decadent spa and two outstanding restaurants await guests partaking in a family vacation or adults' getaway. Expect to soak in the rich history and legacy of the surrounding sacred lands as you pamper yourself with the on-site amenities and brilliantly coloured natural sights.

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see. There’s no shortage of sights to behold on this indigenous land. The Osoyoos Indian Band proudly invites visitors to take in its history at the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre, located just steps from the resort. Look for the history of Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie’s 30-plus years of leadership as well as original 1940s artwork from the children of the Inkameep Indian Day School (Queen Elizabeth purchased a piece that hangs in Buckingham Palace). Nature-loving travellers who want to venture off-site have a plethora of indigenous destinations to visit, including: Spotted Lake, named for the hues of mineral spots in the water; Oxbows, one of the last remaining wetlands in the Osoyoos area known for its easy hike and bird-watching; and Nʕaylintn (McIntyre Bluff), a favourite hiking trail that offers awe-inspiring views of the Osoyoos landscape and bold shades of fall foliage below.

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savour. The Osoyoos Indian Band takes great pride in the story of the Four Food Chiefs: Black Bear, Bitterroot, Saskatoon Berry Bush and Chinook Salmon. Together, the spirit of the four formed the inspiration for Spirit Ridge’s restaurant, The Bear, The Fish, The Root, and The Berry, with chef Murray McDonald at the helm. Enjoy a breakfast of Sammy Sammy Toast topped with avocado and smoked salmon, lunch of Bannock & Spreads and a Bison Burger, and pick from many delectable dinner options, including Askawa Tartare of the Land (made with bison and wild rice) and Pacific Halibut. Of course, no meal is complete without one of pastry chef Tammy Maki’s dessert delights. We fell hard for the Berry Pavlova with Sea Buckthorn as the perfect after-dinner sweet treat.

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sip. Join Canada’s first indigenous winemaker, Justin Hall, along with senior winemaker Randy Picton, as you indulge in the delectable selection of wines at Nk’Mip Cellars, located at the resort. Visit the tasting room to sample the winery’s selection of award-winning grape creations (and pick up a few to take home), or open a bottle on your private balcony while soaking up the views of the ever-changing colours of the land. Greatest hits include the white-blend Dreamcatcher with notes of stone fruit, the Syrah-blend Talon with berries and plum characteristics, and the Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon that treats the palate with black cherry and mocha. For a $10 tasting fee, enjoy the private Qwam Qwmt tasting gallery, featuring the winery’s premium collection.

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shop. The Nk’Mip Cellars tasting room carries a beautiful selection of indigenous pottery, jewelry and artwork, crafted by members of the Osoyoos Indian Band and artisans from the surrounding area. Pick up local cheeses and chutneys from the tasting room’s cooler and take a kaleidoscopic-hued picnic on your room’s deck overlooking the beauty of Osoyoos lake or the neighbouring mountains. A stop at the Desert Cultural Centre’s Coyote’s Gift Shop provides treats for everyone on your list. Our eye landed straight on the authentic Pendleton blankets and indigenous handcrafted housewares.

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spa. Looking to unwind after a day of taking in the local indigenous culture? Bliss out at the Solterra Desert Spa with a Desert Sacred Wrap or Desert Stone Massage. Consider a stop here an experience that relaxes the soul and nourishes the body in traditions inspired by the legacy of the land.


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