5th Annual Salmon Summit Strengthens Relationships

The Gespe’gewaq Mi’gmaq Resource Council (GMRC)and Listuguj Fisheries co-hosted the 5th annual Salmon Summit on the 21st and 22nd of February.

The Salmon Summit was held at the Bingo hall in Listuguj. The Salmon Summit united groups from GMRC, Listuguj Fisheries, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Corporation de gestion des Rivieres Matapedia et Patapedia, Fisheries and Oceans, Eel River Bar First Nation, New Brunswick Department Energy, Resources and Development, Organisme de bassin versant Matapedia-Restigouche, Restigouche River Camp Owners Association, Restigouche River Watershed Management Council, and Mi’gmawei Mawiomi Secretariat.

Stephen Booth, a researcher from the University of Guelph presented the keynote address by reviewing the past four summits. During the 4th annual Salmon Summit, the different groups united by creating a statement to represent their vision. “Fostering relationships built on mutual respect of diverse cultures to enhance Atlantic salmon and its habitat for future generations.” As the various interest groups continue to work to help improve the salmon population and habitat, they vow to continue to build bridges between the communities.

Pierre Vicaire provided a presentation about the success of the Harmony Project.  The Harmony Project was launched almost 20-years ago to address the violence between youth from Listuguj and Pointe-a-la-Croix. The Harmony Project became an inspiring example of how people can come together after breaking down barriers and building healthy, positive relationships.

The goal of the Salmon Summit was to continue building relationships, mutual understanding and trust. By strengthening our relationships we are more likely to be able to do our part in assisting with the recovery of the Restigouche salmon.

Day one of the summit ended with a panel of people sharing their stories about their personal relationship with the Restigouche Atlantic Salmon. Panel members Dr. Fred Metallic, Pamela Isaac, David LeBlanc and Danny Bird explained their relationship with salmon, how the salmon defines their identities and the significance this species has on their life. The summit participants broke into smaller groups and shared their stories of salmon with one another.

The second day of the summit began with a presentation given by Charles Cusson of the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF). He discussed the 2018-2030 agreement with the Greenland Fisherman’s Union. Limits to their inshore harvest is down to 6000 multi sea-winter salmon per year.  Estimates were given that approximately 70 to 75% of these fish originate from Canadian Rivers. As a result of this agreement, 500 multi sea winter (MSW) salmon are expected to return to the Restigouche watershed.

The following presentation was given by David LeBlanc of the Restigouche River Watershed Management Council provided a report on the 2018 Restigouche River Stock Status.  The assessment for the watershed as a whole indicate the returns were below the minimum requirements for sustainability.

Day two ended as the groups gathered together in a circle and began smudging as they participated in a talking circle. Elder Blanche Martin explained that what happens in the talking circle stays within the talking circle. As the eagle feather was passed from person to person, each individual shared their personal relationship with the salmon. Once the eagle feather made its way around the room, the talking circle ended with hugs.