First Nations are demanding that salmon habitat be restored in the Lumby area.
Members of the Okanagan Nation released chinook fry into the Shuswap River above the Wilsey dam Thursday.
“This is one of the last remaining salmon fishing stations in Okanagan territory and we want to see the salmon and the habitat restored so we can enjoy a healthy fishery once again,” said Stewart Phillip, grand chief.
Salmon have been unable to access about 30 kilometres of habitat since the dam was constructed 80 years ago.
“Historically, this was an important spiritual and cultural site for the Okanagan Nation people,” said Phillip.
“Families would gather and work together to fish for chinook, coho and sockeye salmon and rainbow trout from the river at what is referred to as Shuswap Falls. Today, the salmon stocks have declined and there is only a limited fishery for chinook.”
The Okanagan Nation Alliance wants a passage developed around the dam so fish can access the upper area.
“Our people have a sacred responsibility to uphold and to protect and preserve our natural habitat,” said Phillip.
“It is imperative that passage be provided in order to bring back the chinook.”