By Leah Scheitel
Special to the Pioneer
The 8th annual Columbia Salmon Festival is set for this upcoming weekend, with the organizers planning multiple events for the celebration. The Shuswap Band and Ktunaxa Nation are hosting the festival on Saturday, September 8th, with events starting at 10 a.m. and running into the evening.
“We are providing a day to the Indigenous Communities, industry, government and the general public to raise awareness of the loss of the salmon in the Columbia River and what that means to our Indigenous communities,” said Diana Cote, event organizer. “Our goal is to provide education and culture to reflect the goals of reintroduction of salmon.”
Kinsmen Beach is the starting point of the event, with a canoe brigade set to take off and paddle to James Chabot Park, where a traditional celebration of dancing and drumming circles will be ready to welcome in the paddlers and the public. The celebration then moves to the Shuswap Band Hall and continues with a salmon feast and a pow wow. Ms. Cote anticipates approximately 300 people to attend.
“We will have craft and educational vendors set up from all three Nations as well as Columbia Basin groups that collaborate on protection of our water and environment,” added Ms. Cote. “The emphasis is on the collaboration and partnerships in reintroducing the salmon into the upper Columbia River.”
The organizing committee is set up in collaboration with the Shuswap Band and Ktunaxa Nation, but they also have help from friends in other areas.
“We have had to reach out to our relations at Adams Lake Indian Band to provide the salmon and each year they have supported this event with salmon from the Adams River run,” said Ms. Cote, adding the festival has taken roughly two months to plan.
In addition to the Saturday festivities, which is open to the public, Ms. Cote said there is another event planned for the evening prior.
“The evening before the Salmon Festival, the Shuswap Band is hosting Indigenous Leadership and Staff from Secwepemc Nation, Ktunaxa Nation and Okanagan Nation Alliance. The focus of the meeting is to develop a collaboration approach on the goal of self-sustaining salmon into the Upper Columbia River. We will discuss and seek input and guidance as we move from dialogue to action, engage leadership in discussion on how we are to move forward to achieve the success of this important initiative.”
More information about the event can be found on their Facebook page at Facebook.com/columbiasalmonfest.