Okanagan Nation Alliance releases sockeye fry into Okanagan Lake

Representing eight Okanagan native bands, fisheries managers release 3,300 sockeye fry into Okanagan Lake

  • Jun. 10, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance released 3



In the second of three planned releases of sockeye salmon fry into Okanagan Lake, members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance gathered on the shores of Mission Creek in Kelowna as part of a ceremonial release of 3,300 fry on Friday evening.

Children, elders, community members and ONA leaders all released fry in what was called a historic milestone for salmon restoration.

“This is so powerful and so historic,” said Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie. “To have the sockeye salmon re-introduced to Okanagan Lake is wonderful. I think this is something that is long past due. The salmon were here for thousands and thousands of years. We lost the salmon when the Columbia River system was dammed up and they cut off all of the food supply that we had with the salmon.”

One by one members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance—which represents eight First Nations bands around the Okanagan—stepped forward to release a few fry, from kids as young as a few years old, to elders in the community, such as cultural adviser Wilfred Barnes Grouse, who led a prayer before the salmon release.

“The salmon are so important to not only us today but I like to look seven generations into the future,” he said. “We’re saying prayers that the salmon do come back in a good way. I’m very glad to see all these young kids here to witness the good things we are doing tonight.”

The ONA has already released 3,300 fry into Trout Creek in Summerland and on Monday will release 3,300 more into 6 Mile Creek near Vernon for a total of just under 10,000 sockeye fry into Okanagan Lake this year.

It’s a lower number than the ONA had planned to release but the beginning of what will be annual releases of sockeye fry.

“This is a historic milestone for salmon restoration,” said Howie Wright, ONA fisheries manager, who said it’s the beginning of a long journey for the fry. “They will spend the winter in Okanagan Lake and then  the following spring they will be smolts. They will make their way down through Okanagan River, through Skaha Lake, through Osoyoos Lake, down into the Columbia River and then they will make their way down to the ocean. Then one to two years later they will make their way back.”

Wright said he expects that of the 3,300 fry released on Friday, between 1,500 to 2,000 of them will migrate out to the ocean while anywhere from two to 17 per cent of those salmon would return to Okanagan Lake as adults.

There was plenty of emotion, traditional drumming and smiles at the ceremony.

“To have them re-introduced is such a  powerful feeling,” said Chief Louie. “It’s something we believe that Mother Earth wants. It’s something we believe our ancestors are smiling here tonight to know the salmon are re-introduced. This is something our people have great respect for.”

Just Posted

‘Listen to your gut’ urges injured skier

Mike Shaw was told he’d never walk again after an accident four years ago, but he defied the odds

Small grass fire sparks in West Kelowna

Fire crews quickly douse blaze in ditch on Friday afternoon

Kelowna teen allegedly robbed while walking at night

Community asked for tips to help reunite teen with ring

Nasty note on windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Remembering road crash victims in Kelowna

World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims takes place Sunday in Kelowna

Flag person struck by car

RCMP investigating incident involving female traffic control person and senior driver

Rockets calm Hurricanes for 7th straight win at home

Dillon Dube scored twice Friday to lead Rockets to WHL victory over Lethbridge

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Guns and drugs seized in Kamloops RCMP blitz

Kamloops Mounties and the gang unit seize drugs and make arrests in two-day blitz

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Interior Health expands meningococcal precautions in South Okanagan

Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls included in the expanded precautionary immunization measure

Homeless count returns amid Penticton’s housing crisis

Volunteers are hitting the streets this week to find solid data on Penticton’s homeless population

Missing woman smart, courageous, lovable

Mother says Caitlin Potts trying to overcome foster care experience

Most Read