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Shuswap symposium unites science, First Nations perspective on salmon

The 2018 dominant run of the Adams River sockeye has begun.

Once again, it raises the importance of a healthy habitat for salmon.

The culmination of a four-year cycle, the dominant run has long brought people from across the world to Secwepemc (Shuswap) territory to view the awe-inspiring ritual of the salmon who have travelled more than 600 kilometres from the ocean to their spawning grounds.

For the first time, a multi-stakeholder symposium will be held in collaboration with First Nations bands and scientists, with equal emphasis on native storytelling and science.

The Adams River Salmon Society and Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band, through whose traditional territory the run takes place, will host this inagural event that will involve Indigenous and scientific communities, along with the public and conservation groups.

Related: Salmon Society to host symposium

Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Conservation and co-author of the Wild Salmon Policy, will be speaking to the role of community in salmon conservation. Dawn Morrison, Neskonlith community member and food sovereignty specialist, will address the importance of salmon conservation as a food sovereignty issue for Indigenous communities. Dr. Courtney Mason, Canada research chair in Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities at Thompson Rivers University will approach the concept from an international perspective.

Indigenous elders and community members will share traditional knowledge related to salmon, and will provide an opportunity for on-the-land experiences. A group of panelists will convene to address the topic of change in the area of salmon conservation and management. An action planning session will involve all symposium attendees.

Co-ordinated by Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band’s Julie John, who is working on an MBA at Simon Fraser Univerity and Carmen Massey, who is earning a masters of Environmental Science at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), the two-day event will be held at the Quaaout Lodge Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Symposium attendees are invited to the Tsu’tswecw (Roderick Haig-Brown) naming ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, followed by the Salute to the Sockeye festival opening ceremony.

Related: Plans to rename Roderick Haig-Brown Park

Attendees will also be invited to choose one Indigenous experience – a canoe journey (space is limited to 40, book with online registration) or walk along the trails of Tsu’tswecw with Secwepemc elders, storytellers and knowledge keepers.

Following a feast and welcome by Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band Kukpi7 (Chief) Oliver Arnouse at Quaaout Lodge, a special screening of Uninterupted, a feature film by Canada Wild Productions that was shot during the 2014 dominant sockeye run at the Adams River, will be shown. The film was screened last summer under Vancouver’s Cambie Street Bridge and viewed by more than 30,000 people.

A biologist and dean of science at TRU. Tom Dickinson says he is amazed by the historically important role of the salmon migration, both in terms of the ecosystem and the human element.

“This is the equivalent of the big migration of wildebeest on the Serengetti,” he says, emphasizing the importance of having healthy ecosystems and the value he thinks the symposium might have in attracting Indigenous students to post-graduate studies.

Putting his money where his beliefs lie, Dickinson is paying for his grad students to attend the sympsosium and stresses the amazing hands-on learning the salmon run provides.

Registration to the event is open to individuals and organizations involved in, or concerned with, the conservation of wild salmon, particularly from an B.C. Interior perspective.

Go to www.salmonymposium.com for the full symposium agenda, speaker profiles and to register. Seating is limited.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net
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Barb Brouwer

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