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First Fish Ceremony

Kukstemc To The Salmon 2004


Salmon

"Remember your brothers upstream, let some fish pass so that we may all feed our people. We thank you.” These were the words of Chief Edward Jules addressing the people attending the First Fish Ceremony hosted by Skeetchestn on June 29, 2004. The purpose of this important ceremony was to honor and thank the salmon that have fed our people for thousands of years.

First Fish medicine bundle was given into Skeetchestn's care by Mary Narcisse of the Stetlemc Nation to hold for one year. Chief Eddy Jules accepted the bundle on behalf of Skeetchestn Band. Councilor Terry Deneault will keep the bundle in his care. The bundle contains a gift offering given by every community that the sacred bundle has visited. Skeetchestn Band Members contributed gifts representative of Skeetchestn people and our beautiful land.

Bundle

Skeetchestn elder, Christine Simon donated an intricate handmade pine-needle basket containing a medicine bundle. Christine and her daughter Carol Draney carry on the Shuswap tradition of basket making with great skill and pride. Nearly two decades ago, John Calhoun of Skeetchestn, found a large beautiful basalt scraper. Finding the scraper was a good sign to a young man just learning to hunt. John gave the arrowhead to his sister Shirley Calhoun who chose to bestow it as a gift offering to the First Fish medicine bundle. Christine, John and Shirley honored the salmon, our community and their relations by generously contributing these rare and beautiful gifts to the First Fish Ceremony medicine bundle & Thank you very much for your noble gesture. Approximately 200 people took part in the ceremony and enjoyed a dinner of the symbolic first salmon.

The first fish bones were returned to the river accompanied by prayer and songs. May the salmon always return to renew their circle of life and to nourish our people.

Songs
Fish Bones

Tunkwa first fish ceremony

Skeetchestn Indian Band Re-Asserts Aboriginal Fishing Rights at Tunkwa Lake

Councilor Terry Deneault of the Skeetchestn Indian Band stated in a press release on May 27th the Band's intention to resume practicing their aboriginal fishing rights at Tunkwa Lake.

The Band held a Cultural Rediscovery Ceremony at Tunkwa Lake on May 31st , 2005. The ceremony was aimed toward gaining an understanding between the band and the general public.

It is important for the public and also our youth to understand that Skeetchestn people have used the resources of the Tunkwa Lake area for centuries, and that we have every right to continue using these resources for centuries to come, Councilor Deneault stated.

Skeetchestn's decision to again utilize Tunkwa Lake as a food fishery was met with criticism by a number of non-aboriginal sport fishermen.

These people do not understand that we fish to feed our families, not just for fun, said Terry Deneault. Skeetchestn periodically allows some part of its traditional territory to rest and refrains from using these areas until they are again sustainable. This is the case with Tunkwa.

The President of the Kamloops District Fishing Association, Don Trethway attended the event to show his support and to express his understanding of the issue. He pointed out that Tunkwa Lake is stocked with 50,000 fish every year. Skeetchestn's harvest from the lake would number a maximum of 200 hundred fish, not nearly enough to impact the quality of sport fishing. Skeetchestn would only be harvesting fish at Tunkwa for approximately 3 weeks in the late spring.

Terry pointed out that Tunkwa Lake will be used as more of an educational cultural training site for our youth and that the numbers of fish that we use will be small. Most of the fish harvested will go to needy members of our community such as single mothers.

The ceremony was attended by C F J C Television and broadcast the next day. Elders Christine Simon, Florence Simon and Amie Bell attended the event along with Chief Eddy Jules, Councilor Archie Deneault, handful of band members and Skeetchestn Natural Resource personnel.

Terry Deneault pointed out that conservation is high on Skeetchestn's list of priorities. Band members have been advised that what you bring in, you carry out meaning keep the site litter free. If we all work together we can make good things happen. We want to take a negative and turn it into a positive. Stated Councilor Deneault.

May 27, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

Tunkwa Lake and the surrounding area are part of the traditional territory of the Skeetchestn Indian Band. As such, the Tunkwa Lake has been used by our people for centuries to sustain our families. Our traditional use of this area includes fishing and we therefore expect to use the waterways in and around Tunkwa Lake as a food fishery from time to time. We are mindful of the need to avoid over-fishing. So that future generations may enjoy the benefits of what the Creator has given us. We trust that the general public will understand and respect our right to feed our families through our traditional fishing activities, and we hope that others will agree to enjoy the natural beauty of Tunkwa Lake in harmony with our use of this area.

Sincerely,

  • Skeetchestn Indian Band
  • Chief Eddy Jules,
  • Councilor Terry Deneault,
  • Councilor Pamela Jules,
  • Councilor Shane Camille,
  • Councilor Archie Deneault