By Haley Grinder
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Four new interpretive signs were officially unveiled at Ritchies Point on Sunday, Oct. 3. The signs were captivating and brightly-coloured, providing a lovely addition to the entrance to the National Wildlife Area.

The area, locally referred to as Ritchies Point, boast fun facts and information about the wetlands and wildlife. They also recognize the traditional Indigenous land they stand on, its uses, and wildlife common to the area.

The goal was to celebrate Wilmer Wetlands, as well as acknowledge the importance and beauty of the natural landscape. This is especially important with the increased tourist traffic seen within the Columbia Valley this past year. 

Gerry Wilkie, Electoral Area G Director at Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), stresses the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the Indigenous roots and culture present here in the valley. “We’re working with the First Nations who, for millennia, have understood and respected the land, which is the biophysical heart and soul of the Columbia Valley,” he says. “The wetlands are so important, and it’s a remarkable thing to see it acknowledged like this. We need much more.” 

The project was a group effort, aided by partners including Environment Canada, Ktunaxa Nation, Shuswap Indian Band, and Wildsight Invermere. Karen Barkley, branch manager at Wildsight, says in a release that the project was generously supported by the RDEK, Columbia Basin Trust, and Environment Canada. “We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Rachel Darvill, Mary Harding, John Pitcher, Ross MacDonald, Pat Morrow, Denise Hoffgaard Photography, and Mandi McRobbie (SwiftKick Art+Design).” 

The unveiling boasted speeches from the project partners, along with coffee, tea, and other refreshments for spectators.