BY LUCAS CHAN
Youth from the Still Moon Arts Society spent a week in June travelling along the Fraser River watershed in the 2nd annual Wild Salmon Caravan!
The Wild Salmon Caravan, taking place from June 6 to 11, was a journey from Mount Robson to Vancouver celebrating the spirit of the wild salmon through indigenous communities in Chase, Adams Lake, Kamloops, Lillooet, Lytton, Chilliwack and Abbotsford.
“The journey was really about celebrating, recognizing and honouring the spirit of the wild salmon, and how it is interconnected with First Nations culture as well as the rest of the environment,” said Henry Lau, one of the youth from the Still Moon Arts Youth Team.
The spirit of the salmon is something that influences across cultures and communities, representing more than just the ecological health of the land or water but also the relationships communities have with nature and each other.
Groups from across British Columbia joined the Wild Salmon Caravan in this travelling collective of culture, art, drumming, music and storytelling. It sought to connect with people and express the significance of salmon to the well-being of our cultures, communities, food systems and nature from an indigenous perspective.
“What I witnessed reminds me about how food is important to me in my neighborhood of Renfrew-Collingwood and how that is connected to the ways that First Nations groups access culturally relevant food in their own indigenous landscape,” said Crecien Bencio, who also participated in the journey.
The Wild Salmon Caravan also stressed the importance of building strong relationships with indigenous communities and conducting meaningful reconciliation processes. Threats of development and climate change endanger the well-being of the wild salmon that are so intricately linked with the land and its people. The Wild Salmon Caravan carried the wishes and hopes for what relationships with wild salmon was in the past, what it is in the present, and what will be in the future.
Still Moon’s previous youth engagement coordinator Chitha Manoranjan expressed, “I’m proud that we were able to take a small team of youth from this community up on this journey to share stories of our community’s successful efforts at bringing chum salmon back to Still Creek and bring some of Still Moon Arts’ creative energy. More importantly, it was an honour to be so warmly welcomed to different indigenous communities and be witness to the rich cultures and experiences that these communities have.“
The journey was part of Still Moon Arts’ Youth Engagement Project funded by the BC Arts Council. The youth team was made up of two Grade 9 students from the Leadership 9 Ecology class who have been working in the Renfrew Ravine this past year, and two long-time youth volunteers (and dedicated board members).
The team returns to the community with deeper knowledge, experiences and stories that are necessary to continue to act as stewards of the salmon and inspire the community to create their own intercultural experiences around food.
Lucas Chan is a summer student with Still Moon Arts Society.
Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News