Canada’s Spotted Lake

Canada’s Spotted Lake

A seemingly typical body of water in winter and spring in the southern part of British Columbia, Canada, Kliluk Lake reveals its incredible nature once the water starts to evaporate in summer. What is left behind are hundreds of colourful polka dot pools which can appear white, yellow, blue or green. The colours of each pool are due to the high concentration of minerals, including magnesium sulphate, magnesium and sodium. The specific colour of each pool depends on the unique mix of minerals within it. The lake does not receive its water from a river or the sea but instead receives it from the surrounding hills which also supply the minerals and salts.

The site is sacred to the First Nations of the Okanagan Valley who have visited the lake for millennia for its healing properties. However, it had not been owned by them for many years during the colonial and post-colonial period. In fact, the lake had been harvested for its minerals to manufacture ammunition during World War I and it has since been noted that prior to this, the ‘lake displayed an even greater variety of colours and an even greater artistic beauty’ according to the British Columbia Visitor Centre. In 2001, the Canadian Government along with the Okanagan Nation Alliance acquired the land for the use and benefit of the Okanagan First Nations people who now protect it as an essential cultural and ecological site.

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