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Posted: September 28, 2011

Inaugural Columbia Salmon Festival underway

The first ever Columbia Salmon Festival begins today, Sept. 28 in the Columbia Valley, and runs until Oct. 1 at venues in Fairmont Hot Springs, Windermere and Invermere.

Hosted by the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc Nations, today’s (Sept. 28) events include float trips down the Columbia River, beginning close to where the mighty 1,800 km-long river begins, for youth to observe spawning kokanee salmon.

The day also features a field trip that focuses on the role of salmon in the Columbia River, where the mighty Chinooks once traveled to spawn. The Akisqnuk First Nation and Canadian Columbia River-Inter-Tribal Fishery Commission present Bill Green and Mark Thomas who will speak at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort about the loss of the big fish and visions for restoration of the species in the region, lost to it when the big dams were constructed downstream.

On Sept. 29 and the morning of Sept. 30 there is a Canadian First Nations and US tribal workshop on the Columbia River Treaty, which is a follow-up to a similar event held in Spokane, Wash. on Jan. 27.

There will also be a charity golf tournament on Friday, Sept. 30 at Copper Point Golf Course and the festival will conclude Saturday, Oct. 1 with a gala dinner at Copper Point’s Grand Quartz Hall, featuring celebrity chef David Wolfman.

Perhaps highlighting the festival will be the unveiling of a salmon monument at James Chabot Provincial Park in Invermere, featuring the arrival of a flotilla of First Nations canoes, traveling north to Invermere from the south end of the lake, at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

The purpose of the festival is to educate the public about the cultural significance and history of salmon for First Nations, and educate people about the attempts to restore ocean-dwelling fish to the upper Columbia River.

Along with the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nations, the festival is being run with support from the Canadian Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission, the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partnership and the Fairmont Trails Society.

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