The Wild Salmon Caravan will be stopping in Chilliwack as it follows the migratory route of salmon from the headwaters down to the ocean.
Made up of First Nations, and wild salmon advocates, the caravan making its way across B.C. this week, is both a spiritual and political effort, said Eddie Gardner, a Skwah elder who lives in Chilliwack, and one of the organizers of the caravan.
The idea of the caravan is to “open people’s minds and hearts to the magnificent spirit of wild salmon,” Gardner said, and to “link coalitions and campaigns into a powerful collective force.”
He’s heading up to Prince George to join others for the trek down to Vancouver with several stops along the way.
“This is a grassroots movement of First Nations and wild salmon protectors and everyone is invited to join in.
“The salmon are so integral, on a cultural, physical and spiritual level. It’s about our well being, and the economy.”
The convoy will arrive at Skway First Nation at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 13 for a ceremony and lunch. They’re also heading to Cannor Road for 1 p.m., the site that Aevitas officials had been looking at for a waste recycling plant. Even though the project will not be built in Chilliwack, Gardner said they will still use the opportunity to celebrate the victory.
“We will celebrate the win regarding Aevitas and galvanize a broader coalition for other campaigns to protect the sacred waters and our wild salmon.”
The salmon is a keystone species, he points out, and yet it is under stress from all directions.
“There is no mistake in calling it the iconic species of B.C. Yet the governments are not doing what they should be to support and protect wild salmon on a regulatory level,” Gardner said.
“This also caravan is sending a message to federal parties and candidates this spring asking them to explain what they are willing to do to protect the wild salmon and to provide for its resurgence.”
They set up a Wild Salmon Caravan fundraising drive at gofundme.com and raised $5,000 for the caravan, and have reached about half their target of $10,000 to date.
He listed some of what he called the “principal threats” to wild salmon from industrial forces: Mt. Polley mine disaster, Kinder Morgan pipeline, Enbridge proposal, and the growth of open-pen fish farms in the ocean.
It’s clear wild salmon are at the centre of a “storm brewing” over the province.
“If the salmon go extinct it will have serious and wide-reaching implications.”
The idea for the caravan was raised at the Wild Salmon Convergence organized in Chase by Dawn Morrison and Janice Billy of Neskonlith/Secwepemc First Nation last October.
It could potentially become reason for further celebration, the organizer said.
“We still have wild salmon to save,” Gardner said. “They show us what it means to be resilient, generous and giving.”