Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory, BC – On February 13, 2019, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA), as part of the Fish in Schools (FinS) program, will deliver the final round of sc’win (sockeye salmon) eggs or fry to participating schools within the Columbia region of Syilx territory.
ONA’s FinS is a comprehensive fish education program for school students, with a focus on sc’win (sockeye salmon), their lifecycle and the importance of their ecosystems. By creating greater awareness of fish species, the intent is for students to become educated and aware of both salmon, their habitat and surrounding ecosystem. In the Columbia, this program also creates awareness of the historic salmon run from the ocean, upstream to the Kettle River, Columbia, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenay Rivers, including major tributaries the Salmo River and Slocan River. As such, FinS is a key step in the Syilx Nation’s broader intent to bring salmon back to their original range, having been blocked from returning by Hydro electric dams along the Columbia River in the 1940s.
In 2017-18 the ONA extended the FinS program to the Columbia region, collaborating with Glenmerry Elementary in Trail and Twin Rivers Elementary in Castlegar. This year the ONA have upscaled these efforts, and partnered with School Districts 8, 10, 20, and 51, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, and Regional District of Central Kootenay to deliver the FinS program to nine schools throughout the Columbia including: Christina Lake Elementary, Glenmerry Elementary, Hutton Elementary, Kinnaird Elementary, Lucerne Elementary, Robson Community School, Salmo Elementary, South Nelson Elementary, and Twin Rivers Elementary.
Upon successfully raising the sc’win fry they will be included in the Syilx Okanagan ceremonial releases throughout the Syilx Territory.
The Fish in Schools program has been running successfully since 2003 in the Okanagan region, and contributes to the kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery’s fry release efforts. The kł cp̓əlk̓ stim̓ Hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titxw (Salmon) – one of our Four Food Chiefs – to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory. Opened in 2014, the 25,000 square foot hatchery has the capacity to rear 8 million eggs. It is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for 5 million eggs from brood stock management until fry release.
For More Information Contact:
Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Manager
Tel: (250) 718-5215
Michael Zimmer, ONA Fisheries Columbia Biologist
Tel: (250) 304-7341