Salute the Salmon in a park with a new (old) name, same spirit of conservation

By Adam Donnelly
October 5, 2018 - 5:04pm

KAMLOOPS — It’s one of the greatest spectacles Mother Nature puts on in our region. Every four years, millions of Sockeye salmon leave their home in the Pacific Ocean and make the gruelling journey up the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, dodging anglers and predators alike before arriving home in the Adams River to spawn.

A flash of red in the burbling river. Then another, and another. It's spawning season for Sockeye salmon on the Adam’s River and 2018 is a dominant year, meaning as many as a million fish should be arriving soon.

“Each day, we have more and more salmon that are entering the river,” Salute to the Sockeye Event Manager Dr Natalya Melnychuk explains. “So we’re coming to the peak - we haven’t quite peaked completely, yet.”

For each dominant run every four years, the communities around Shuswap and Little Shuswap Lakes band together to host the Salute to the Sockeye Festival. The celebration of salmon draws a huge number of visitors from across Canada and all over the world.

Chris Bradford is heading to South America on a trip of a lifetime. The Edmontonian says he’s happy he was able to spend some time enjoying the special spectacle like the salmon run before leaving the Great White North.

“It’s my last little stretch in Canada before I leave the country for a good period of time, so I’m just appreciating Canada’s nature,” Bradford told CFJC Today. “[The salmon] are really beautiful.”

The Ehlers originated in Cape Town, South Africa but now call St Albert, Alberta home. They say in their travels, they’ve never seen anything quite the Adam’s River Salmon Run.

“We came to where there was a pool, and you could see the salmon - obviously, they’ve turned red, adapted to the freshwater - and there’s some action! I guess, protecting turf… it’s about the survival of the fittest,” Jean Ehlers said.

This year, there are some changes to the celebration of the salmon. Most notably, the name of the park where the event takes place.

“[The Adam’s River Salmon Society] put forward a name change, working with the Kukpi7 [Chief] of the Little Shuswap Indian band proposing the name change back to the original First Nations name, which is Tsútswecw, which means many tributaries,” Dr Melnychuk explains. “Roderick Haig-Brown was very instrumental in helping conserve this area and help protect it… it was beautiful to see members of the Haig-Brown family come and accept a blanket offering from the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band.”

While the park name now reflects that it exists on traditional and unceded Secwepemc land, the spirit of its original namesake remains: protecting the inland habitat of Pacific Salmon, for future generations to enjoy.

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