Celebrating salmon

Columbia Salmon Festival Saturday, Sept. 14th

You’re invited to celebrate the salmon that once swam the currents of the Columbia River during the Shuswap Indian Band’s ninth annual Columbia Salmon Festival on Saturday, September 14th.

“They were abundant to the point that we could almost walk across the river on their backs,” said Suzie Thomas, the band’s community engagement coordinator. “It was a part of us, and is a part of us, and we don’t want to forget that.”

Everyone is welcome for the day of celebrations.

A canoe brigade will arrive at James Chabot beach around 3:30 p.m. after an elder does a water ceremony “praying for the salmon and thanking them for feeding us and for their return one day,” she said.

The incoming canoe brigade will be welcomed ashore by hand drummers, guests and those gathered to witness their arrival.

Then celebrators will move uphill, with storytelling, a magic show, a salmon dinner and an evening powwow taking place in the Shuswap field beside No Frills.

With 80 years going by since the last salmon swam past, Ms. Thomas said: “At this year’s Salmon Fest, we are very lucky to actually have salmon.”

The salmon are courtesy of the Okanagan Nation, which donated its fish for the Shuswap feast.

“We’re asking for a coin collection donation so we can contribute back to their band,” Ms. Thomas said. “We will have beautiful salmon filet, a bed of rice and veggies and fry bread.”

In addition to taking in the cultural celebration and enjoying the salmon and traditions, guests will be invited to participate in the day of ceremonies by making a tobacco tie to imbue with their hopes for the salmon or the river or a message for Mother Nature. Ms. Thomas said the Shuswap Indian Band will later deliver those messages to the Creator on the guests’ behalf.

“Come and celebrate,” she said.

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