Fresh catch is brought to the Kyuquot dock. (Photo contributed)

Fresh catch is brought to the Kyuquot dock. (Photo contributed)

Fish parcels from home: A coastal B.C First Nation’s link with dispersed members

Despite the pandemic, Kyuquot First Nation will continue with its annual food fish distribution for members dispersed outside traditional lands

Every year, between May to August, Kyuquot First Nation members spread across B.C., and the US receive a doorstep delivery of fish from their traditional land on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Kyuquot will go ahead with this annual tradition of food fish distribution despite shutting its borders and not allowing anyone to travel in or out due to COVID-19.

READ MORE: Isolated B.C. First Nation seeks further seclusion in response to COVID-19

Salmon, halibut, yellow snappers and other fish caught off Barkley Sound and Kyuquot Sound are distributed and free of cost to more than 350 members living in Kyuquot and elsewhere. Depending upon the catch, each family member gets anywhere between two to 10 fish, irrespective of age.

“There’s an entire process in place for this food fish distribution which stemmed as one of the benefits of the Maa-Nulth treaty,” said Dianna Dragon, a community outreach manager for Kyuquot whose family has been overseeing the logistics of the fish distribution program since it started in 2011 after the treaty came into effect.

Her brother Frank Dragon, a fisheries consultant to Kyuquot/Checleseht First Nations (KCFN), conceptualized the program and put together the distribution logistics in place. And now Dianna and her daughter, Monique Dragon Gillette, a fisheries manager for KCFN, oversee its operations.

Traditionally a fishing community, Kyuquot undertakes this yearly distribution of food fish as a “selfless service” to all the members outside settlement territories, who do not have access nor the opportunity to obtain this fish unless it is given to them, said Frank.

“It’s everybody’s food fish. Members who live in Kyuquot are lucky and they can still go out and fish but for others, it’s expensive to go buy fish from the stores,” said Dianna.

Delivery is routed based on the database of members and also includes children who are placed in foster care outside traditional territories.

In Kyuquot, when fish is brought in from the sea there’s a cultural gathering that takes place as members come together and participate in cleaning the fish.

“Throughout the summer months there is music, song and drumbeats in Kyuquot as people come to gut and package the fish,” said Frank. Most of the catch is then smoked in smokehouses or stored in freezers to preserve it.

Systematically, the first catch is distributed among members living in Kyuquot, then it is packaged and distributed to members throughout Vancouver Island.

A truck is rented and two people from Kyuquot go door-to-door to deliver the fish in places such as Campbell River, Gold River, Port Alberni, Ladysmith and Victoria among others, said Frank. And the final leg of the delivery is to Vancouver and Seattle.

The tradition is also a good way to connect with community members who are living away from home territory, Dianna said. For members, it’s like receiving a letter from home, “they’re always excited to receive the fish from home waters.”

This year the First Nation will have to work around logistic challenges imposed by COVID-19 and might have to make some exceptions, Frank said. Due to border closure, some members from Seattle might not receive the food fish this year. But otherwise, the fish distribution will continue as it has for the past nine years.

RELATED: Isolated B.C. First Nation seeks further seclusion in response to COVID-19

First Nationsfishing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Cleaned fish is loaded into the truck for distribution. (Photo contributed)

Cleaned fish is loaded into the truck for distribution. (Photo contributed)

Salmon is hung up in a smokehouse in Kyuquot, to preserve it for storage. (Photo contributed)

Salmon is hung up in a smokehouse in Kyuquot, to preserve it for storage. (Photo contributed)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

North Cowichan strengthens some COVID-19 safety protocols, and introduces new ones, as the pandemic enters ts second phase. (File photo)
North Cowichan and CVRD implementing new COVID rules

Municipality reacting to new public health orders

Search and rescue crews from all over Vancouver Island responded to calls to assist with the search for a 19 year-old man with medical issues who got lost on trails in the south end of Duncan on Nov. 21. The man was found Sunday morning and taken to hospital for assessment. (Submitted photo)
Duncan man rescued after getting lost on local trails

19-year-old taken to hospital for assessment

Duncan’s Knights of Columbus hand out cheques to a slew of deserving organizations in an online event Nov. 8, 2020. (Submitted)
Duncan Knights of Columbus hand cheques to lucky 13 in virtual event

Another historic first for the Knights was to have two area mayors join the presentation

Changes to the holidays due to COVID-19 will be a challenge for people with dementia. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Webinars aim to help those with dementia approach holidays

“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons”

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Most Read