With this a dominant year for the Adams River sockeye salmon run, the Adams River Salmon Society would like people who view it swept up by the experience in ways they haven’t been before.
The impetus for change came from friends and neighbours from the Little Shuswap Band, says president Don Paterson.
“They were really able to show us something’s changing and we don’t think it’s particularly good.”
He says the society has asked, if fish numbers are down, what does it mean?
“The stance we took, it’s the canary in the coal mine.”
The society would like to see the Salute to the Sockeye be a more meaningful and impactful experience for everyone, one that will help raise awareness of the need for salmon conservation.
Carmen Massey, society member, says the society would like to use their vehicle to change policy and raise public awareness, but not leave people simply hand-wringing.
“They actually have to say, well, I guess I have to do something.”
Rather than being Chicken Little pronouncing ‘the sky is falling,’ the message is that people need to pay enough attention to see if changes to runs will have a huge impact.
“The spillover to the wider community would be substantial,” Paterson predicts.
Speaking about an impactful experience, Paterson recounts standing at the bridge in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park where he watched a pair of fish for a few days. He named them Henry and Alice.
“I arrived one morning and there was just Alice. A woman was standing there and I said, ‘that’s Alice, Henry’s gone.’ She was just sobbing.’”
Massey says the idea is to use an experience people are fascinated by to create a transformation of the way they think about salmon.
Paterson emphasizes that the crisis being seen with salmon must transcend partisanship.
Massey points out that people in the Shuswap live in the biggest maternity ward in the country, and its future is part of everyone’s future.
She doesn’t want the salmon run to become part of what’s been dubbed ‘last chance’ tourism – a trend to view things such as glaciers and monarch butterflies affected by climate change.
To ensure that the work to conserve salmon does not level off and die out, the society is seeking volunteers.
If you would like to help, you’re asked to email Paterson at: email@example.com.