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The salmon are coming back! The salmon are coming back!
Where’s Paul Revere when we need him?
Last year, a fish ladder, left inoperable after the Penticton dam at the foot of Okanagan Lake was built in the 1950s, was restored by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. For the first time in 60 years, sockeye salmon ascended from the Columbia River into Okanagan Lake.
At the same time, kokanee socks are rebounding.
Kokanee are land-locked salmon. Unlike their sockeye cousins, they don’t go down to the sea. They spend their lives in lakes. Some spawn along the shorelines; some return to the lakes’ tributary streams, just like the ocean-going salmon.
A small item in the regional newspaper reported that an estimated 388,000 kokanee had spawned this year, either in streams or along the shoreline. That’s more than double last year’s 185,000. Better yet, it’s more than double the ten-year average.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Salmon, Kokanee, environment
The conference hall was packed full. Five hundred people leaned forward to watch as an elder from a First Nations community along the B.C. coast moved down the aisle towards the microphones on stage. His red-and-black blanket cloak swished as he walked; the mother-of-pearl buttons adorning it flashed back at the spotlights following him.
This happened long before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for better relationships with Canada’s indigenous peoples. But the church, my church, was making its first tentative moves towards that goal.
The old man – he may not actually have been old, but he was older than I was, and he had a deeply weathered face – climbed the stairs onto the stage. He took the microphone from its stand. He held it to his mouth.
We waited, breathlessly, for his words of wisdom.
“We are the salmon,” he said.
Then he put the microphone back, and left the stage.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: forests, Salmon, coastal tribes, circle of life, bears