Wearing a blue convocation gown and holding a medal presented to him, Louis Thomas, Secwepemc knowledge keeper and councillor with the Neskonlith First Nation, is one of four people to receive an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow Award at a special online convocation ceremony held on Jan. 22, 2021. (Okanagan College image)

Wearing a blue convocation gown and holding a medal presented to him, Louis Thomas, Secwepemc knowledge keeper and councillor with the Neskonlith First Nation, is one of four people to receive an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow Award at a special online convocation ceremony held on Jan. 22, 2021. (Okanagan College image)

Secwépemc knowledge-keeper Louis Thomas receives Okanagan College’s highest honour

Neskonlith band councillor recognized for his outstanding community-building work

Louis Thomas donned a blue convocation robe and was awarded a gold medal recently for all of his efforts in community building.

Thomas was one of four people in the region who received the 2020 Okanagan College Honorary Fellow Award, which Shuswap-Revelstoke Dean Joan Ragsdale described as the highest distinction the college can give.

She said it’s for those people who are doing outstanding work from a community-building perspective.

The criteria for the award are mentorship, excellence, eminence and accomplishment.

Thomas, a Secwépemc knowledge keeper and councillor with the Neskonlith band, was introduced at the online convocation ceremony Jan. 22 as working actively with the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, Shuswap Trail Alliance, Shuswap District Arts Council, the City of Salmon Arm Housing Taskforce and many other groups in the region.

It was also noted that he has shared his guidance and knowledge with the college in many ways over the years, including providing the traditional welcome and sharing other aspects of his culture at countless events and ceremonies.

Read more: Secwépemc knowledge-keeper’s contributions recognized by Province of B.C.

Read more: Bringing stories to life

In accepting his award, Thomas said he was honoured.

“I like to work in the background, but it’s nice to be recognized,” said Thomas. “Education is so important. The world is changing and we all have to adapt. Education is one of the things that will help our people thrive. I am a firm believer in sharing. Our culture is all about sharing, about passing on our knowledge and culture to future generations. I’ve always tried to support that however I can.”

He said that although reconciliation is a bit of a buzz-word these days, it’s something he’s been doing for about 40 years.

“Getting people to understand who we are as Secwépemc people.

“I used the college and I graduated from there; in fact I was the one, when I was on council many years ago, the college helped me start an upgrading course on our reserve and I believe it was one of the first ones. So Okanagan College has always been my kind of mentor and all the people that worked there through the years.”

Thomas sat on the college advisory board for 13 years.

“We share knowledge together, we work together, and that is my goal. To share always. In our culture, it’s always about sharing.”

He also thanked the other three people who received the award: Pamela and Wilfred ‘Grouse’ Barnes from the Westbank First Nation; Robert Foord from Vernon and Don Turri from Kelowna.

“The work they do is important. And it’s important to everyone.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmCollegeFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Band had words of praise for the consultation between her people and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on an ongoing highway project. (Black Press file photo)
Collaboration on Shuswap highway project receives national award

Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson says expansion will open new economic opportunities for the band

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Chase RCMP have been focusing during February on prohibited drivers and stolen vehicles in the North Shuswap. (File photo)
RCMP crack down on prohibited drivers in North Shuswap

Help from community aids with arrests in Anglemont and Scotch Creek

Work on replacement of the Solsqua-Sicamous bridge is underway. (File Photo)
Solsqua-Sicamous Bridge work on pace for June 2021 completion

Replacement of the 100-year-old span began last August.

Craig Gruden, (Little) Donny Kleinfelder, (Big) Donny Kleinfelder, Dale Kristensen, Dave Schwandt, Alyssa Schwandt, Tristan Schwandt and Angela Kirstein will feature in Backroad Truckers, a Barriere-based History channel series. (CORUS Entertainment photo)
Shuswap auto recycler breaks out of Rust Valley for Backroad Truckers

White Lake’s Dave Schwandt joins Big Donny Kleinfelder on new History Channel series

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

Parkview Elementary Kindergarten student Siddhalee Martselos was among many students and staff at the school participating in the Pink Shirt Day anti-bullying event on Feb. 24. (Parkview Elementary/Facebook)
In Photos: Parkview Elementary’s many shades of Pink Shirt Day

Many students and staff at the school dressed up for the annual anti-bullying day.

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read