Ministries » First Nations Ministry

First Nations Ministry

There are 11 First Nations communities in the Diocese of Nelson, British Columbia.

There are several First Nations Reserves in the Diocese of Nelson.  

In the Kootenays, are the:

Ktunaxa First Nation: 

  • St. Mary's Band at the St. Eugene Mission, Cranbrook, B.C.
  • Akisqnuk Band (formerly Columbia Lake Band) at Windermere, B.C.
  • Tobacco Plains Band, Grasmere, B.C, south towards the Montana Border
  • Lower Kootenay Band, Creston, B.C.and the Kinbasket People 
  • Shuswap Band, Invermere, B.C.
In the Okanagan and Similkameen region, are 
  • Penticton Native Reserve (Sacred Heart Mission) – west of Penticton BC (Penticton Indian Band
  • Inkameep/Nk'Mip Native Reserve (St. Gregory Mission)  – near Oliver (Osoyoos Indian Band
  • Chopaka Native Reserve  (Our Lady of Lourdes Mission)– near Osoyoos (Lower Similkimeen Band) Contact: Mona Heinrich, 250-499-5604
  • Westbank Native Reserve (St. Patrick Mission)  – near West Kelowna (Westbank First Nation
  • Upper Similkameen Indian Band, Hedley  (Princeton) 


Nestled in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies is the home of the St. Mary’s Band of the Ktunaxa Nation located near Cranbrook, B.C.  Ktunaxa Nation members live on five reserves throughout the East Kootenays of British Columbia and two of their Bands are across the border in Idaho and Montana.  

The St. Eugene Church along with the Kootenay Indian Residential School, opened in 1912, was served by the Oblate Fathers until its closing in 1970.  From that point on the St. Eugene Church was put under the jurisdiction of St. Mary’s Parish in Cranbrook  and is served intermittently for sacraments such as Baptism, Confirmation, First Eucharist, Marriage and for funerals, Christmas Midnight Mass and Easter Sunday Mass. 

The Ktunaxa First Nation people are striving to restore their identity and culture as a Nation, which will include their traditions and some acceptance of Christianity, as most of the Ktunaxa people are rooted in the Catholic Faith and some still seek sacraments especially Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation and the presence of a priest or lay pastoral worker at their funerals.  Although faith is not mentioned in their Ktunaxa mission statement, they are people of a deep spirituality and are trying to reclaim it. 


Four missions are part of the Okanagan Nation in the northern and western part of the diocese

  • Penticton Native Reserve (Sacred Heart Mission) 
  • Inkameep Native Reserve (St. Gregory Mission)  
  • Chopaka Native Reserve  (Our Lady of Lourdes Mission) 
  • Westbank Native Reserve (St. Patrick Mission) 


The Okanagan Nation also includes:

  • Upper Similkameen Indian Band (Princeton) 



Native Ministry Teams minister in both the Okanagan and East Kootenay regions.

Native Ministry for the North/South Okanagan & Kootenays

  • St. Patrick Mission,  Westbank: c/o O.L. of Lourdes Parish,  West Kelowna,  Email
  • Sacred Heart Mission, Penticton: Adam Eneas, Penticton, 250-490-0909
  • St. Gregory Mission, Osoyoos:  c/o Oliver, 250-498-3934   Email
  • O. L. of Lourdes Mission, near Osoyoos: c/o Penticton, 250-495-6815 (Email) and Mona Heinrich, 250-499-5604



The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a new webpage on the Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples in Canada.  It outlines several chapters that retrace the multiple links between the Catholic Church and Indigenous peoples, including activities in each of the four pastoral regions of Canada.  The new section can be accessed at the links below:

-In English:

-In French:


Then the Lord God formed a man. He made him out of the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into him. And the man became a living person.
(Genesis 2:7)

The Gospel does not destroy what is best in you. On the contrary, it enriches, as it were from within, the spiritual qualities and gifts that are distinctive of your cultures.”    “Preserve and keep alive your cultures, your languages, the values and customs… these things benefit not only yourselves but the entire human family.”

(John Paul II)