Submitted by Shuswap Band

On May 26th, 2023, Shuswap Band Chief & Council, staff, and membership, along with participants from the Secwepemc, Ktunaxa, and Okanagan Nations, completed the second annual ceremonial release of Sockeye salmon into Dutch Creek. The release of 1500 fry also included ceremonial prayers, songs, and speeches honoring the vital importance of salmon as a key Indigenous cultural cornerstone. Salmon Chief Mark Thomas led the ceremony and was joined by Shuswap Band’s newly appointed Youth Salmon Chief Devin Capilo.

The release marks the continuation of ongoing salmon reintroduction efforts in the Columbia River Basin. This is the second time these headwaters waters have seen salmon in over 83 years, after the Grand Coulee and the Chief Joseph dams blocked the migratory routes that salmon relied on since time immemorial. These decades without salmon have had severe impacts on those who relied upon this vital resource for survival. The loss of language, ceremony, culture, knowledge transfer, health, and economy are a few examples of that loss. This ceremony was intended to “Call the Salmon Home” and allow the community an opportunity to strengthen their connection with salmon after decades of separation.

Last year’s release was intended to provide the Elders with the first chance at handling fish in the headwaters, as they have suffered the longest. Shuswap Band was able to invite more spectators and participants to this year’s event. This is the second of many anticipated salmon releases in the Columbia River Basin as we work tirelessly to create the reality where our future generations have access to a fundamental resource that used to be so plentiful in our waters. We hope to open future releases to the public so all in the valley can understand the significance of returning salmon to the river.

Kukwstec-kuc to everyone who made this event possible, including: Braydi Rice for leading the event coordination and all Shuswap Band staff involved in planning; support provided by the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council; the technical support provided by Jon Bisset, Camille Des Rosiers-Ste.Marie, Scott Cope, and Wyatt Cope; the attendance of Secwepemc, Okanagan, and Ktunaxa Elders, Youth, and Knowledge Keepers; the ONA Hatchery for providing the 1500  salmon fry that were released; Roslyn Jackson and Emily Raymond for delivering the 1500 fry from the ONA Hatchery in Penticton; local dignitaries who attended; our donors who helped fund the event and make it possible; and all else who were present to see this historic event unfold. 

Please join the Shuswap Band in Invermere on September 9th for the annual Salmon Festival. This event will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about salmon, enjoy some of the local artistry, and immerse themselves in Indigenous culture. 


Jon Bisset & Associates

The release of sockeye salmon fry into the Columbia River Basin is an important cornerstone for the Shuswap Band.
(Ryan Watmough photo)