Following an unexpected turn of events, Kitsumkalum volunteers came together last minute to hold their annual salmon BBQ fundraiser on Aug. 3.
The BBQ was canceled last year due to low fish returns and was going to be stalled for this year’s event for the same reasons until the recent passing of a Kitsumkalum community member changed its course.
The late individual, who the family wishes not to be named, had set a net prior to the closure on Food, Social and Ceremonial Fishery on July 27. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) had issued a complete closure of recreational fishing of all salmon species in the Skeena Watershed.
“Many family members of the deceased came to help process all that they could handle of the catch while grieving their sudden loss,” writes Kitsumkalum communications coordinator Heather Bohn in a press release.
Kitsumkalum Fisheries were notified to pull his net out after his unexpected death, discovering a surplus of fish that his family collected and then decided to gift to their community.
“As the family was planning and preparing for the funeral service and had what they needed, they gifted the remaining fish for social and ceremonial use to the community volunteer group, the Kitsumkalum Events Committee for social and ceremonial use in the upcoming BBQ,” Bohn adds.
The decision to proceed this year was based on First Nations’ traditional laws and culture which “prohibit the waste of fish and resources.”
The annual event began in 1987 when two crest poles were raised for the first time in 150 years in Kitsumkalum and a BBQ was held to share food and culture with non-Indigenous neighbours, the release reads.
Outgoing MP Nathan Cullen also made a special appearance alongside the volunteers to help serve food at this year’s BBQ.
All money raised from the BBQ will go towards local children’s Halloween and Christmas parties, and used for elders’ activities.