Indigenous fisher peoples in Canada are busy mobilizing knowledge and networks to celebrate the spirit of wild salmon and revitalize the inter-tribal networks where the strength of Indigenous fisheries governance can be realized more fully. The Wild Salmon Caravan is led by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty and is entering into its 5th year of public arts-based engagement through a series of events that calls on the Rainbow Coalitions “People of all Colors”, to come together to address the systemic injustices that are killing wild salmon, our most important Indigenous food and cultural and ecological keystone species.
Following the theme of Rainbow Warriors, this year’s caravan will feature over 20 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) artists. Each artist will be featured on the Wild Salmon Caravan website and facebook page from September 15 to October 4th.
On September 19th, the caravan will lead a ceremonial procession with Indigenous fisher peoples and knowledge holders, as well as artists who are calling for a just transition out of an unjust system of fisheries research, policy, planning and governance that has led to the decline of the wild salmon and their habitat since the time of colonization. The procession and program will begin at False Creek near Science World. Following strict COVID-19 safe protocols the caravan will proceed to Tent City at Strathcona Park where the WGIFS holds an artist’s residency. On Sunday September 20, the WSC will host a panel discussion with 4 well known Indigenous thought leaders, Marilyn Baptiste (Tsilhqot’in), Darrell Bob (St’at’imc), Eli Enns (Nuu chah nulth), and Peter Oewies from an Indigenous fishing village in Doringbai South Africa.
As we enter 2020, wild salmon and Indigenous Peoples who rely upon them for sustenance are facing a complex, tangled web of existential crises defined by the climate crisis, capitalism and colonial rule. The Indigenous lens is ever more critical to understanding the interwoven strategies needed to dismantle the destructive paradigms, structures and processes of colonial policy, planning and governance that have led to the demise of wild salmon, and look to Indigenous fisher peoples for leadership to reconceptualize a framework for coastal and inland fisheries and regenerative life-giving economy.
As Stó:lõ Elder and President of the Wild Salmon Defender’s Alliance, Eddie Gardner says “if wild salmon goes, we go. Both Eddie and Dawn Morrison, Founder/Curator of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, have been quoted as saying: “It is our sacred responsibility to return to our original instructions as Indigenous Peoples to uphold our responsibility to our sacred trusts of land, water, plants and animals that have provided us with our food for thousands of years”.
“In a similar spirit as Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela who organized for a post-apartheid South Africa; and the African American Black - led Rainbow Coalitions of the 1960’s, we call on all people to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples on the front lines of stopping widespread destruction to wild salmon and their habitat in our forests, fields and waterways. We urge you to ‘swim with us’ and join the diverse and powerful alliances forming to save wild salmon - aligned with the principles of Indigenous Food Sovereignty and social justice” stated Morrison”.