Chief thanks group for salmon rescue

Chief Terri Brown of Tahltan Band Council (TBC) is thanking members and helpers after thousands of spawning salmon trapped in the Tahltan River by a rock slide were rescued.

She said: “I would like thank all those who assisted in the salmon recovery operation organized by the TBC for their outstanding efforts to save our salmon. The rock slide happened at the end of May. As the fish began to spawn, a huge team came together to help them get around the slide. In total, nearly 5,000 salmon were moved up river. On behalf of my nation, I wanted to thank everyone involved in this effort.”

Gayleen Day, a Tahltan member of the Crow clan, along with Spiritual leaders, elected leaders, elders and supporters held prayer vigils for the salmon to reach their spawning grounds and thanked Creator for giving the salmon life to feed the Tahltans over many centuries.

The process of moving the fish began with capturing the fish live by seine netting and rod fishing. Next, they were transported from the river to the shore by boat. From there, the fish were transported by trucks and released into a temporary holding pond. Once the pond was full, the fish were flown by helicopter and then released onto the other side of the slide, from where they can complete their journey to Tahltan Lake. At the end of July changing conditions meant that the fish can now find their own way around the rock slide, and so the work has now completed.

Heather L. Hawkins, Fisheries Manager, stated: “I would like to acknowledge all the amazing people who came together for this important initiative. We started affectionately referring to this group as ‘Team Tahltan’ — and without the efforts of each and every one of these individuals, we would not have been as successful as we were.”

Salmon have sustained Tahltan people for thousands of years and are extremely important to Tahltan culture, well-being, identity and history. Salmon is the main food source for Tahltan people, even during the winter months.

Helpers in the rescue included

Tahltan Fisheries Program Cheri Frocklage, Heather Hawkins, Gary Dennis, Gerald Quash, Myles and Russel Sampson, Collin Ball, Terry Ball, Jordan Hawkins, Maggie Asp, Reagan Asp, Edward Asp, Michael Nole, Jared Dennis, Sean Hawkins, Scotty Hawkins Jr., Trysten Hawkins, Jocelyn Etzerza, Sonia Dennis, Former Tahltan Chief Rick Mclean, Gary Merkel and Aaron Brown.

DFO Pete Etherton, Sean Stark, Johnny Sembsmoen, Sean Collins and Shaun McFarland.