To commemorate Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Thursday September 30, we invite you to sign the growing list of Supporters for Bringing the Salmon Home: The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative.
The three First Nations leading this initiative are at the centre of revelations this year about the numerous children who perished at residential schools and were buried in unmarked graves. On May 27, 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, a member community of the Secwépemc Nation, announced the heartbreaking discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The ʔaq’am community of the Ktunaxa Nation reported in late June that they had located 182 unmarked graves at the former St. Eugene’s Mission School site near Cranbrook, BC. Many Syilx Okanagan children were also sent to these schools.
Orange Shirt Day, started by residential school survivors, preceded the new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Northern Secwépemc author Phyllis (Jack) Webstad continues to share her story of her first day at residential school as a small child when her new orange shirt, a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her.
The Secwépemc, Syilx Okanagan and Ktunaxa peoples experienced the loss of their children to residential schools in parallel with the loss of the salmon in the upper Columbia River region due to massive dams.
We have a collective responsibility to ensure that “Every Child Matters.” Reintroducing salmon, a crucial source of cultural, spiritual and physical sustenance for Indigenous Nations, is another important step on the path towards reconciliation.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations guide the collaborative work of the five partners in Bringing the Salmon Home: The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative.
We are stronger when we stand together – acknowledging the past and working together to create a better future for all.
*Featured image above: Ceremonial salmon fry release, Kootenays BC May 2021. Photo courtesy Okanagan Nation Alliance