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Christina Lake Stewardship release salmon into Columbia River

Environmental society joins hundreds in annual release of fry
Hundreds of students and members of the public released sockeye salmon fry into the Columbia River on May 14 as part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Fish In Schools Program, which allows participants to raise salmon eggs to the fry stage to learn about the life cycle of the fish. Photo: Submitted

Christina Lake Stewardship Society recently helped another generation of sockeye salmon return to the wild with a release of fry they helped raise in their welcome centre office.

The society, along with several regional elementary schools, released the fry into the Columbia River at Millenium Park in Castlegar on Tuesday. The mass release included students and partner organizations releasing thousands of sockeye salmon fry as part of an education and rehabilitation program teaching people about the fish’s life cycle and importance of the species to the river.

Lyra Tuck, co-ordinator for the society, said the event was held in partnership with the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s Fish In Schools Program. It provides participants with equipment needed to raise 100 fertilized eggs to the fry stage. Once they reach that stage, they are released in a ceremony every May.

This year, about 28 regional elementary schools participated, Tuck said, with five joining the society at their release site in the park. The public was also welcome to attend and help release fry, which drew a large crowd.

The society has been raising its own fry in a tank the public could view, said Tuck. They also provided information on the life cycle of the fish.

“They created the program to connect kids to nature and better understand the necessities that are required for salmon to successfully thrive in the environment,” she said.

“They set everyone up with a fish tank, filter, manual, and students in the school get to raise the salmon from the ‘eye’ egg stage, which means there are already eyes by the time the eggs get to you. They get to learn about the life cycle of the salmon.”

It also teaches about the traditional importance of salmon to the Indigenous peoples of the region. The ceremony, Tuck said, included the blessing from elders for safe passage of the salmon fry, drumming and cans of salmon harvested from the river for participants to take home. Everyone who received the salmon was asked to think about safe passage of the fry while they eat as part of the blessing, she said.

The society participates in the program to allow people to come visit the salmon fry in their office at the welcome centre in Christina Lake, just off Highway 3 on Kimura Road as part of public education, said Tuck. They will be participating again and people are welcome to come in and view the fry, as well as ask questions.

About the Author: Karen McKinley

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