Founders/Core Administration/Facilitators

Rachel Marchand – Board Member/Secretary

Rachel is a licensed Early Childhood Educator and a newly certified Education Assistant. Her career includes working to build a Language Nest within OKIB community, building Okanagan curriculum, delivering language activities and workshops within the Okanagan Nation. She has worked as an Aboriginal Early Childhood Instructor for Enowkin for the last three years. Rachel currently works for the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society as their ECE Cultural Advisor. Rachel’s passion is to build strong cultural curriculum, language activities, traditional roles, relationships and education for her children within a safe, nurturing, grassroots approach.

Mariel Belanger MFA – Syilx Site Specific Artist Educator/Administration

« Wai̓, x̓ast sx̌lx̌ʕalt. Inca isk̓ʷist Cen cen, kn mut il nk ̓maplqs il n ̓sis ̓oolax̌ʷ. Hello good day, my name is Mariel Belanger, I am from the Head of the Lake– Dry Creek, the northern part of the Syilx – Okanagan Nation,.” Mariel is dedicated to contributing in the growth of interdisciplinary arts as a method to engage Indigenous community, language, culture and act as a bridge to society telling stories of our time. She has a BFA in Interdisciplinary Performance from UBCO and is also a graduate of the Enowkin Centre’s NAPAT program. Mariel is a MFA SSHRC scholarship recipient and was recognized as Outstanding Indigenous Graduate Student at the 2018 International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry.  As artist scholar, her research is about Identity through the lens of Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being, Customary Law, Indigenous Feminism and Performance Theory, exploring how cultural identity is rebuilt through oral history and performance practice.

Margo Tamez PHd Indigenous Poetics– Artist Educator/Board Chair

Margo Tamez (Nde konitsaaii, Big Water People, Lipan Apache Band of Texas) is a historian, poet, essayist, traditional knowledge keeper, Indigenous rights defender, and interdisciplinary researcher. She provided expert testimony at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights/Organization of American States to bring evidence and critical attention to the distinct impacts of the U.S. border wall on Indigenous Peoples along the Texas-Mexico border. Margo worked collaboratively with faculty and colleagues from the University of Texas School of Law, 2009.
Margo enacts Indigenous critical poetics as a tool for sustaining historical clarification, truth, memory of violence, and memory of recovery practices. Her research closely examines anti-genocidal practices across nineteen generations of Indigenous women of and from Nde’ Konitsaaii Gokiyaa (Lipan Apache Big Water Peoples’ Country).

Erik Hrabovsky, B. Sc. Zoology– Artist Educator/ Site Developer

Erik’s education over arches from a diverse science background (psychology, biology, zoology, pre-medicine) to apprenticeships/experiential studies in alternative medicine (acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbalism), gardening (biodynamic, organic, permaculture, traditional Native American farming), and construction (carpentry, natural building, electrical, plumbing, and off-grid housing). His diverse background is supplemented by years of sustainability-based activism, heading up the Okanagan Chapter of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, sitting on sustainability committees, and running MindGardens Projects- a First Nations-specific service project.

Erik’s business, MindGardens, focuses on healthy, naturally built homes with art and functionality as a focus for each individual solution. The business strives to bring the comforts of modern society back into sync with nature utilizing local, recycled/reclaimed materials, living components, passive design, biomimicry, and as holistic a perspective possible. Water and ecological restoration are key components of every project.

Hilda Belanger – Family Matriarch/Cultural Language Facilitator

Hilda is a syilx elder matriarch from a long line of medicine people. She is a certified Forest Technician with 15 years experience as Aboriginal Support Worker for School District 22. Hilda’s recent retirement from the district allows her time to dedicate towards relearning her old passion for forest health through ecological language education.

Walline Parker – Family Matriarch/ Cultural Facilitator

Walline’s passion lies in bridging cultures through social activities. As an important part of our socialization practice, Walline’s passion for stick games and social songs provides for a colorful workshop experience.

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