Postponed Until 2022Due to COVID-19 Restrictions
The Salmon Festival is an opportunity to celebrate the history and future of salmon in the Columbia River.
We invite the public to this free event, featuring guest speakers, Ktunaxa Dance Troupe, and information
on the history of salmon in the Upper Columbia River Basin
The vital history of upper Columbia River salmon and people
The upper Columbia River basin is located in the unceded territories of the Secwépemc, Ktunaxa and Syilx Okanagan Nations.
The Columbia River once supported some of the largest runs of wild salmon in the world. Adult salmon entering the mouth of the Columbia River would make their journey upstream from the ocean to spawn and complete their lifecycle.
Before the arrival of European settlers, it is estimated that millions of Chinook and Sockeye salmon and steelhead swam far up the Columbia River, across what is now the US-Canadian border, and spawned throughout the drainage in Canada.
Chinook salmon were the largest of these species and made the furthest journey, travelling some 2,000 kilometres to the river’s headwaters at Columbia Lake in the East Kootenays of British Columbia. Salmon were blocked from returning to the upper Columbia River watersheds in Canada in the early 1940s, after the US government constructed Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state to generate power.
For thousands of years, salmon supported a thriving culture of Canadian First Nations and US Tribes along the river. Their nutrition, cultural and spiritual identity and economy was intimately linked to the yearly return of the salmon. The Secwépemc, Ktunaxa and Syilx Okanagan Nations were never consulted about the construction of the dams that extirpated the great salmon runs throughout their homelands
The loss of salmon continues to severely impact Indigenous Peoples’ traditional connections to the water and their spiritual and cultural well-being. It affects the ecosystems and all residents in the upper Columbia River region.
What is the Columbia Salmon Fest?
Returning on Saturday, September 11th, 2021, this FREE Festival will be a community celebration at Kinsmen Beach between 10am-3pm.
The program will include speakers and performances on the main stage, along with performances by the Ktunaxa Dance Troupe, Métis Jiggers, and a telling of the Ktunaxa Creation Story by Joe Pierre Jr.
To tie in the importance of salmon to First Nation Peoples, there will also be a demonstration powwow at Kinsmen Beach. The powwow will showcase traditional dancing and drumming, and provide an opportunity to celebrate salmon with the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa peoples. All will be welcomed to watch, and there will also be an opportunity for everybody to participate during ‘inter-tribal” dances.
A key feature of the Columbia Salmon Festival is the education and outreach area where visitors can learn about the impacts dams have had upon the salmon, ecosystems and people. It will also highlight the ongoing efforts to restore salmon to the upper Columbia River by many groups including the Shuswap Indian Band of the Secwépemc Nation, the Ktunaxa Nation, and their partnership with the Syilx Okanagan Nation, Canada and BC through the new Indigenous-led Bringing the Salmon Home: The Columbia River Salmon Reintroduction Initiative.
The Columbia River should be full of salmon at this time of year. However, it has been so long since they were here, that younger generations have grown up with no salmon, and they don’t realize what a tragedy the loss of salmon is to our region, or what we can do to bring the salmon home again!
All are welcomed to attend this FREE event. Please join in making the Columbia Salmon Festival a great success.