Thousands of juvenile chinook salmon were blessed by the Nazko First Nation before they were recently released.
The ceremonial release west of Quesnel at the Euchiniko River Bridge on Tuesday, April 27 was a special day for the community Chief Leah Stump said.
Close to a dozen members gathered to drum and sing with Cecil Grinder of the neighbouring Tsilhqot’in Nation, who led the ceremony for the survival and safe return of the chinook to their natural spawning grounds.
Several others, including members of the Baker Creek Enhancement Society, were involved in the release of the approximately 17,500 chinook that made the journey from Chehalis on trucks to Nazko.
Salmon release ceremony was a success! I would like to thank Cecil Grinder and Chad Stump for coming and assisting us…
“This is our first fish ceremony but we do plan on continuing with the ceremony and keeping our culture alive,” Stump said, adding they have been working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). They had reached out and asked the Nation if they wanted to be part of the release.
“We haven’t had our salmon for the longest time due to the Big Bar landslide that trapped the migrating salmon from coming upriver.”
The release was captured on film by a videographer from Vancouver Island.
Stump said they have not seen salmon in a long time and that it has been hard on everyone in the Indigenous community that has not fished for salmon for the last couple of years.
The First Nation primarily goes fishing on lakes for trout.
“It is very important for the success of our future chinook return to Nazko,” Stump said.
“Our people rely on this resource, and we need to make sure all the support is given for this project to succeed. It’s important for people to speak through our culture, and respect our ancestors through prayer and ask for this guidance.”