Osoyoos Indian Band

Situated in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, the Osoyoos Indian Band has a strong vision for its future, which it is realizing through initiatives in agriculture, eco-tourism, and commercial, industrial and residential developments. The combination of rich agricultural land and desert tracts provides ideal conditions for many of the Band's businesses, most notably their vineyards and winery.

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Transcript: Osoyoos Indian Band

The Osoyoos Indian Band is a model of progress and initiative with its determined focus on self-sustaining economic development.

Under the direction of its long-time Chief, Clarence Louie, the Band has become a multi-faceted corporation that employs hundreds of people from on and off reserve, in its many successful business and commercial operations.

I believe a chief's responsibility is to look after the immediate needs of their people, and that starts with having a job.

We have so many opportunities here… I think that is the greatest success…there's so many jobs and careers and… just things for people to do…we keep active…there's always new things happening …

The majority of the Osoyoos Indian Band's 465 members live on reserve, where their territory stretches across 32,000 acres in southern British Columbia. The combination of rich agricultural land and desert tracts provides ideal conditions for many of the OIB's businesses; most notably its vineyards and winery.

Overlooking the shores of Osoyoos Lake, Nk'Mip Cellars is North America's first Aboriginal winery.

My position basically is training me and grooming me for management of the winery…so that is the …the goal in the future…is that one day I'll have the skills necessary to run the winery.

Being an Aboriginal winemaker and working for our company, I talk to the chief quite often and he gives me the idea that, or the feeling that I'm fairly important and a good ....I guess mentor for younger people to get into something and show what you can do.

I'm definitely proud that I'm a winemaker for the band, for sure…it's our own company and I feel that it's the best thing for us.

The Osoyoos Indian Band also administers its own health, social, educational and municipal services while respecting, preserving and promoting its Okanagan culture and heritage.

The Osoyoos Indian Band is doing very well here, not just for business, economic development, but for what we're doing here for our First Nations History and Culture. We're teaching, we're talking about it…the land, the people and the culture.

We don't operate our businesses here on a strictly corporate Canada method or philosophy, we contribute socially, culturally, we hire our people sooner, we keep them longer and we use our business profits to fund all of our social cultural programs.

Chief Clarence Louie has been invited to many other communities in Canada and globally to speak about economic development, and what First Nations can do to rise above their circumstances and prosper.

We've got to start standing on our own two feet and creating our own jobs and making our own money…that's First Nations self-sufficiency…that's how you bring back First Nations pride…

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