Spirit of Wild Salmon Gala is a fundraising dinner on Saturday

Capturing the spirit of wild salmon in Chilliwack

The Wild Salmon Gala on June 1 will feature a wild salmon feast, fine art auction, speakers and performances

It’s a special fundraiser on Saturday night in Chilliwack for those who share a deep passion for B.C.’s iconic symbol, the wild salmon.

“The event will capture the spirit of the wild salmon,” says organizer and Skwah elder Eddie Gardner.

“The artists, the performers, the speakers, the people who will be attracted to the Spirit of Wild Salmon Gala, will have a direct relationship with the spirit of wild salmon, what it means to B.C., to our economy, our culture and our spirituality.”

The gala will feature a wild salmon feast, fine art auction, and performances by the Thomas Drum Group, the Semoya Dance Group, and singers like Richard Mayer of Vancouver and Sto:lo artist Carrielynn Victor.

“We want to put it out there in a celebratory manner but also dramatically bringing home the spectre of wild salmon vanishing forever, which would be beyond devastating for everyone,” says Gardner.

“This will motivate people to wake up to what is happening out there and take action. Everyone has a little responsibility to do this. It’s in our own enlightened self interest to do this.”

Biologist Alexandra Morton will be in attendance, along with 12-year-old singer Ta’Kaiya Blaney, and Cheam elder June Quipp.

“They know how important it is for us to be more in harmony with the natural world.”

The gala event is hosted by the local chapter of the National Salmon Feedlot Boycott and Salmon are Sacred.

All proceeds from the gala will go toward creating greater awareness of the risks to wild stocks posed by open-net fish farming in the Pacific Ocean, which are believed to be threatening the very survival of salmon, especially those who return to natal streams in Chilliwack.

The boycott has seen information rallies in front of several major Chilliwack retaillers in the past six months, driving home the message about serious damage to wild stocks being done by fish farms.

The industry has steadfastly denied this.

A fish farm industry rep told the Progress earlier this year that the national boycott of farmed salmon was not having an impact that they could see, but they were concerned about misinformation.

“Our fish are very healthy and our farmers follow strict fish health management plans developed with not only the well being of our fish in mind, but also the well being of the natural environment where we operate,” said Colleen Dane of the BC Salmon Farmers’ Association. “Everything from feeding practices to farm siting is done with an eye to reducing any impact on our coast – and we believe the research to date is showing how effective we are at addressing concerns that have been raised.”

But wild salmon warriors are not convinced.

“It’s very pressing right now and the danger is increasing day by day,” said Gardiner.  “We want to make 2013, the year of wild salmon; the year we oust the feedlots of farmed salmon. They must be removed. The alarm bells are ringing louder now. This should wake up federal and provincial officials to use the precautionary principle.”

The gala is being catered by Bravo Restaurant and supported by a range of inspirational speakers and entertainers who share a passion for ensuring the health of the wild salmon.

Spirit of Wild Salmon ~ Gala Fundraising Dinner on Saturday, June 1st 2013, at the Ch’iyaqtel Community Center, 45855 Promontory Road in Chilliwack, BC.

Tickets are $55 online or 604.792.0867 or singingbear@shaw.ca.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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