An hour northeast of Kamloops lies the Adams River, flowing through Tsútswecw [choo-chwek] Provincial Park. This time of year, the river is home to one of the most important sockeye salmon breeding grounds in North America.
Many come to observe this natural phenomenon, watching as the salmon make their way from their spawning grounds down to the Fraser River. From here, they will eventually get to the ocean, following arctic currents to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. They then retrace their route to the Adams, completing a round trip of over 4000km.
Originally named after conservationist Roderick Haig-Brown (1908-1976) the park changed back to its original Secwepemc name of Tsútswecw, which means ‘many rivers.’ The park encompasses the spawning beds of sockeye, chinook, coho and pink salmon. The Adams Lake, Neskonlith and Little Shuswap Indian Bands are local to the park and all have shared history with the salmon run
To ensure the sustainability of the salmon, the Secwepemc depends on K̓wseltktnews, a core value that translates to ‘we are all related’. This value is shown through being ecologically responsive to the interconnections between all living things and teaches younger generations about their responsibility to maintain balance within themselves and the earth.
Unfortunately, in the last 20 years, the stocks have declined dramatically. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, wild salmon are facing multiple threats, including reduced streamflow, increased water extraction, pollution, invasive species and genetic manipulation.
With the recent threats of expanding pipelines, waterways could be in danger, which will affect salmon directly and indirectly. According to the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, salmon could face gill damage and smother, habitat loss and ecosystem toxicity.
In recent weeks, a news release announced that the Canadian & provincial government will be investing in wild salmon conversation, habitat restoration and research science projects throughout British Columbia.
“Our government understands the need to protect and restore salmon habitats as a key part of our plan to sustain and restore wild salmon populations,” Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard says, “and through the investments being made under the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, we are taking decisive action in improving conditions and habitat in waterways across the province.”
The salmon run can be viewed throughout the month of October. For more information, visit the Adams River Salmon Society website.