Hundreds of people got to enjoy fresh salmon cooked over a fire at the Stó:lō Aboriginal Day Celebration Friday on the Coqualeetza grounds.
Some appreciated their lunch even more when they realized what it took to catch those red springs during a high-water period.
It was, in fact, a little harder than normal for the local fishermen to navigate the swollen waters of the mighty Fraser to net fish for the salmon ceremony, said Stó:lō grand chief Ken Malloway.
“But I think we managed have enough to feed everyone today,” he said.
In past years, the First Salmon ceremony would typically take place in April.
“It’s late this year,” said the Stó:lō fisherman, who is also a member of the Fraser River Panel of the Pacific Salmon Commission.
A range of Elders, chiefs, leaders, community members and guests turned out to take in the various aspects of the celebration.
Little samples of the salmon were handed out to everyone, and then later guests were invited to enjoy a buffet lunch that included salmon, halibut, crab and more.
Stó:lō grand chief Frank Malloway told the story of the first salmon ceremony, as told to him by Ed Leon of Chehalis.
He recounted how the Salmon People sent their children to the people to feed them when they tired of meat like moose, elk and deer and sought something lighter.
In turn the people send the salmon bones back to the Salmon People, and that’s part of the tradition that is still followed today in the First Salmon Ceremony.
“He was a great storyteller. He’d make a boring story funny and really exciting,” Malloway said.
The Sto:lo Gift Shop was also re-opened and guests took tours of the newly completed ethnobotanical garden and the under-construction longhouse on the site. The event was hosted Stó:lō Nation Society,
Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw Treaty Association (SXTA), and
Lower Fraser Fishing Alliance (LFFA).