Drumming, singing and dancing were part of the Wild Salmon Caravan parade held Oct. 12 in Chase (Secwepemcul’ecw), the final stop in the annual caravan celebrating the spirit of wild salmon that began in Vancouver Oct. 7. Image credit: Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer.

Honouring, healing wild salmon

Wild Salmon Caravan joins people in passion for the fish.

Like the wild salmon they were honouring, people participating in the Wild Salmon Caravan wound their way from the Pacific Ocean/Salish Sea all the way to Secwepemc territory and the Adams River.

“It was epic, is the first word that comes to my mind,” said Dawn Morrison, one of two main organizers of the caravan, this year its third. “It was deeply rewarding, challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, exciting – those are all the words that come to mind. It was really beautiful to see the involvement of the school children and to see indigenous people in all the different communities we visited, to be seen in such a positive light, with our beautiful cultural expressions of our love of the wild salmon.”

It was quite emotional to see the healing, she said, and the love that comes from it.

She also said non-indigenous people who travelled with the caravan and who helped with the event, many were moved to tears.

“They had really powerful testimonials, how they were affected in that spirit.”

A Wild Salmon Caravan parade moved along the streets of Chase to the bandshell on Thursday, Oct. 12, the last day of the journey which began Oct. 7.

The caravan was led by Salish matriarchs from indigenous communities along the route, and bear dancers led the parade in Chase. They came from Lillooet, the Stl’atl’imx Nation.

“This wasn’t a performance, we’re not here to entertain the people,” said bear dancer Howard Shields. “It is a healing and protection ceremony – to heal the fish and people. It’s not something we do lightly.”

He said it was an honour to dance for the caravan, to which dancers Donovan Adolph, Robert Narcisse and Charles Billy agreed.

Speaking during the traditional welcome, Robert Matthew, former principal of the Adams Lake Chief Atahm School, said when First Nations use the phrase ‘all my relations,’ they’re referring to everything the creator has given them, all living things, especially the salmon.

“There are things we’re given, it’s up to us to look after them.”

Neskonlith elder Minnie Kenoras expressed her gratitude for Morrison and co-organizer Eddie Gardner for putting the caravan together, and to the Neskonlith band for hosting the dinner the night before.

The working group on indigenous food sovereignty was the leading host organization for the caravan, of which Morrison is part.

She said the caravan will continue each year until the wild salmon are coming home in the millions like they used to. She points out that the Shuswap and Adams geographical regions are home to some of the best-laid spawning grounds in the world.

“We hope the salmon will return safely and the numbers have increased, just as the numbers of the caravan have increased over the years.”

That’s the primary vision of the caravan, she said.

And she would like everyone to take part in taking care of the wild salmon, which are so essential to life.

“I hope there’ll be an increased awareness of the issues, the situation, the strategies for increasing the numbers of wild salmon that are returning to spawn, because their numbers have dwindled so low. But also an increased awareness of human behaviours and cultures that are impacting them.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Arrests made outside Shaw Centre

A man and a woman were taken into custody.

Silverbacks fall 3-0 at home to visiting Grizzlies

A fast-paced show of skill on both sides

Veteran reporter to stay at Global Okanagan

Blaine Gaffney was given a layoff notice after a miscommunication

Update: Heavy snow disrupts flights at Kelowna International

Kelowna - Expect snow in the Okanagan, Southern Interior and the Kootenays

New BCFGA president well prepared for new task

Oliver orchardist Pinder Dhaliwal has been BCFGA vice-president for five years

What’s happening

Check out what is happening this weekend in the Okanagan-Shuswap.

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Canucks came out hot, beat Bruins 6-1

Loui Eriksson scores twice, catapulting Vancouver to a lopsided victory over Boston

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

Ski Patrol and SAR search for missing skier

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

Most Read