Find the deeper beauty in Vernon’s views
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Vernon has a deeper Okanagan beauty that begins with the lands and their connection to Indigenous culture. #ExploreVernon to see how these views will transform you. #ExploreVernon
Soaking up the views of the garden at K'nmaĺka Senqâĺten, you can begin to feel the deeper connection that Justen Peters feels to his North Okanagan home of Vernon, BC. “In our Okanagan song, we say ‘We are beautiful because our land is beautiful.’”
If you have been, you get it. If you have yet to experience Vernon for its views, right now is the perfect time for a road trip. You’ll encounter views in the traditional sense of looking out at a beauty landscape, but also—experiencing a new view on life.
ZenSeekers caught up with Justen Peters from the Okanagan Indian Band, your Indigenous Garden tour guide who is waiting to not just welcome you to his land, but also take you on a tour that will likely leave you transformed in all the right ways.
Three Vernon Views that will open your eyes
1. K'nmaĺka Senqâĺten - The Indigenous Garden, Okanagan College
“The correct name for the garden is K'nmaĺka Senqâĺten, but we call it The Indigenous Garden for short,” explains Peters. “Someone can expect on one of our tours, knowledge about the Okanagan First Nation's history, some of the culture, the stories and plant knowledge about the medicines that grow in the North Okanagan,” describing these Gardens on site at Vernon’s Okanagan College.
“We're the only tourism experience in the North Okanagan that focuses on indigenous culture. I believe after going through one of our tours, you will have a deeper understanding and connection to the plant medicine that exists in the North Okanagan. Also, it's fun and informative.”
“I get overall feelings of joy, excitement when I'm actually doing the tours, and I'm telling my stories. I feel really grounded and at peace delivering them, but there is some stress or anxiety about, well, am I going to say the right thing? Or what am I going to say at all? Or who's showing up?” Now into his third year of tour guiding, Peters takes solace in the fact that tour demand is high, so he says, “I must be doing something right.”
“This land that we call the Okanagan are my homelands. My family has lived here for thousands of years. I feel deep connection to these hills, to these lakes, to these rivers, to these trees. Oftentimes when I leave this valley and I come back and I see the lake for the first time, I feel light in my chest. I feel good. I tear up sometimes even.”
2. Canoe Beach (Kin Beach) & The Grey Canal Trail, Vernon
Vernon is set next to two lakes, perfect for easy days at the beach or an incredible sunrise stand up paddleboard. Next to the Indigenous Gardens any traveller to the region can get out on a stellar walk, hike or even simply discovering their perfect picture spot. Canoe Beach (Kin Beach) is just the beach you need, on the shores of Lake Okanagan, or check the view you score from the Grey Canal Trail as featured in the video above.
3. Greater Vernon Museum
Next to the views of the landscape, gain a view into the past via the Greater Vernon Museum who invite you to join them this June when they unveil the new exhibits they have been working on with the Okanagan Indian Band.
“Our way of thinking grew from this land, and I feel like we are an extension of the land. And just to understand the plants and understand that there's powerful energy here," says Peters.
"If we wish to keep our beauty, we have to keep our land.”
When you Go
Visit the Tourism Vernon website to help you plan your trip here, including where to stay and more:
The Greater Vernon Museum is open daily and offers their own set of tours
Canoe Beach (Kin Beach) is home to a new installation allowing visitors to better understand Okanagan Indian Band’s connection to these lands.
The Turtle Mountain Portion of the Grey Canal Trail takes any walker, hiker or trail runner up to Rocky Ridge Park (15 mins walk from trail head) for a bird’s eye view of the city and the North Okanagan.
Book in a tour at the K'nmaĺka Senqâĺten (The Indigenous Garden) to gain a view you might not have expected while in Vernon, one of Canada’s most soul filled cities.
Or take this video tour now: https://youtu.be/lfu4VRUNmLg
Let us know what you find, share your experience on social media with the hashtag #ExploreVernon.