In a year that’s seen B.C.’s salmon population dwindle, the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s fish education program has grown.
The Fish in Schools (FinS) program has reached 41 schools throughout the Syilx Territory, including two schools in Vernon: Alexis Park Elementary and Ellison Elementary.
Over the course of December the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) delivered fish tanks and equipment to all of its participating schools. In January they’ll make their rounds again, this time delivering eggs to populate the tanks.
After successfully raising the salmon fry, students will release them at river locations throughout the Syilx Territory.
“Bringing FinS to the Oliver Correctional Facility will increases awareness on fish culture, sockeye life cycle, and traditional knowledge on what salmon and indigenous fish species means to the Okanagan Syilx people,” said Howie Wright, the Alliance’s fisheries manager.
“It also continues to exemplify ONA’s ongoing commitment in providing FinS education to as wide an audience as possible.”
The program is part of the ONA’s effort to restore and rejuvenate the ecosystems of the Upper Columbia and Okanagan Basin using a combination of traditional knowledge and cutting-edge science.
“FinS is a key step in the Syilx Nation’s broader intent to raise awareness and bring salmon back to their original range, having been blocked from returning by dams along the Columbia River in the 1940s,” said Wright.
Fish in Schools has been running in the Okanagan since 2003. This past year the program was expanded beyond school districts in the area to the Oliver Correctional Facility, the Penticton Museum and Archives and the Christina Lake Stewardship Society.