A prominent member of the Penticton Indian Band has been given Canada’s highest honour, lax̌lax̌tkʷ Dr. Jeannette Armstrong is one of the 85 new appointees of the Order of Canada.
lax̌lax̌tkʷ has accomplished many things in her life she’s an author, an artist and an activist. Now, she is joining an esteemed group of Canadians as an officer of the Order of Canada.
lax̌lax̌tkʷ is also the first Indigenous woman to have a book published in the country. Slash was published in 1986.
“When I was writing my first novel Slash, for me it was also educational to be able to educate about our point of view and our thinking and knowledge and our history,” said lax̌lax̌tkʷ in an exclusive interview with Global News.
The Order of Canada is the highest honour awarded by the Governor General of Canada to Canadians who have made an extraordinary contribution to the nation which lax̌lax̌tkʷ has done.
Extended interview with lax̌lax̌tkʷ Dr. Jeannette Armstrong
One of her many accomplishments is being an associate professor at UBC Okanagan as well as being a Canada Research Chari in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy. She is the founder and board member of the En’owkin Centre, an Indigenous centre for higher learning in the South Okanagan.
In 2016, lax̌lax̌tkʷ was the first Indigenous recipient of the Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in B.C.
in 2021 lax̌lax̌tkʷ was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada which is made up of more than 2,000 Canadian scholars, artists and scientists in the society. She also has a PhD in environmental ethics in Syilx oral literature from the University of Greifswald in Germany.
lax̌lax̌tkʷ has been awarded the honour for her contributions to literature, poetry and her dedication to her culture. She has also committed her life to protecting endangered species.
“We have a big conservation program as part of the En’owkin Centre and k’əmcnitkʷ Chinook Pond Program and community program that shelters a number of nationally endangered species have been my life’s work,” said lax̌lax̌tkʷ.
Over her life, lax̌lax̌tkʷ has played a pivotal role in revitalizing the nsyilxcən language working with knowledge keepers, the En’owkin Centre UBC Okanagan and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
This year, the first eight students graduated from the nsyilxcən Language Fluency Degree, a program that lax̌lax̌tkʷ was the academic lead on.
“That is one of the reasons that I work so hard at bringing hope and inspiration and really trying to provide a way that opens the door for many young people,” said lax̌lax̌tkʷ.
“I see so many young people blossoming when they come to our knowledge and language and learn our ways and feel right inside in terms of who they are destined to be in terms of being beautiful people.”
This latest recognition is a step forward for the syilx people as well as truth and reconciliation.
This story was written by both Athena Bonneau and Sydney Morton
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