On July 29, 2019, in Castlegar, BC, the Syilx Okanagan, Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Nations, Canada, and British Columbia signed a landmark agreement* to explore salmon reintroduction into the Upper Columbia River. This is a three-year renewable commitment by the five governments.
Bringing the Salmon Home: The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative is an Indigenous-led collaboration. The three Indigenous Nations uphold their sacred responsibility to reintroduce the salmon. Salmon have been blocked from returning to the Canadian portion of the Columbia River for more than 80 years. The long-term vision is to return fish stocks for Indigenous food, social and ceremonial needs, and to benefit the region’s residents and ecosystems as a whole.
Reintroducing salmon concerns Indigenous rights and responsibility. This Initiative is located in unceded Indigenous territories. Life-altering losses caused by the dams that block salmon passage have been felt foremost by the Indigenous Nations, who were excluded from Columbia River Treaty decision-making at the outset.
Bringing the Salmon Home: The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative offers new beginnings while acknowledging the past. It prompts necessary reflection and action to support self-determination and decolonization. It proposes early steps towards understanding what reconciliation requires. Of working collaboratively through an Indigenous-centred process. Of finding solutions to complex challenges through traditional Indigenous knowledge and western science, cultural renewal, and technological ingenuity.