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Gitanyow celebrates the return of salmon as B.C. inches toward recognizing the nation’s protected area – The Narwhal

Sept. 7, 2023

Two years after the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs declared 54,000 hectares of land and water off limits to industry, the provincial government still hasn’t officially acknowledged the Meziadin Indigenous Protected Area

The enticing smell of cooking salmon filled a clearing in the woods with the sounds of a nearby river singing its late summer song on Gitanyow lax’yip (territory). A crowd of about 150 people gathered in late August — community members, guests from neighbouring nations and non-Indigenous supporters — to celebrate the second anniversary of the creation of Wilp Wii Litsxw Meziadin Indigenous Protected Area.

The fish camp sits above T’aam Mats’iiaadin (Meziadin River), where salmon leap up the falls on the last leg of their long journey to reach spawning grounds in the cold creeks that spill down from glaciated mountains. As the once-abundant spawning channels warmed and the numbers of salmon returning dwindled, Gitanyow fisheries researchers noticed salmon were spawning in new systems — the ones fed with cold water from the ice-covered peaks.

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