Tla’amin Fish Hatchery Tour
by Cindy Dalcourt, 5 Nov. 2018
28 Members made their way to the Hatchery this morning where we met up with Lee George, the Hatchery manager. There were a lot of fish, both dead and alive in the river as well as in the spawning channel and the fish ladder. We did not get to see the actual egg taking as they finished that work last week. George spoke to us in front of the community smoke house where he told us all about the life cycle of the salmon, what happens at the hatchery and how they are working towards raising and releasing more and more fish in this river and in the area. The statistics were astounding. He was an interesting and informative speaker who has a real passion for the salmon. He told us that many different types of salmon come to spawn in this same river at different times.
At a table an elder quickly butchered a Chum salmon and showed us the traditional way of attaching it to a spit with cedar sticks so it was ready to be placed in front of a fire for cooking or into the smoke house for smoking. We moved on to the open fire where there was another band member speaking about the bar-B-Qing of the fish and other interesting facts. From there we went to the underground/underwater viewing area and could see the salmon swimming. Some already looked to be in very rough shape. We walked the grounds and banks of the river and eventually made our way to the community gym where we were treated to fish soup, bannok and barBQed salmon. There were some handicraft displays but we missed the drumming, dancing etc. as we had spent extra time at the hatchery as it was so interesting. Some of us finished off by going down to the ocean to see where the fish were actually entering the river. There were eagles too numerous to count as well as seabirds and sea lions taking advantage of all the fish.
What a wonderful way to spend the morning. I was very impressed with everything the hatchery is doing to keep the salmon returning to this area for all to enjoy.