A dance ‘Ewk Hiyah Hozdli Dance Group at the Return of the Salmon ceremony tells the story of a hunter who was devastated after thinking he killed a grouse with his arrow while visiting a neighbouring Wet’suwet’en territory. Tradition says the grouse survived and the hunter created the dance when he returned home. Chris Gareau photo

Return of the salmon

PHOTOS/VIDEO: A ceremony in Witset welcomed the Salmon back at Widzin Kwah (Bulkley River) Canyon.

Over 150 people gathered in Witset at a feast overlooking the roaring Widzin Kwah Canyon to ceremoniously celebrate the return of the salmon last Friday.

On the menu was, of course, salmon, but also a cultural feast for the eyes as the ‘Ewk Hiyah Hozdli Dance Group performed for locals and visitors.

Return of the salmon celebration in Witset Friday.

A post shared by Smithers Interior News (@smithersinteriornews) on

Laksilyu hereditary Chief Wah tah K’eght (Henry Alfred) was unable to speak at the ceremony as he recovers from illness in Prince George, so Neekupdeh (Darren George) spoke in his stead. He spoke of the need to conserve both the traditions and resources of the Wet’suwet’en.

“Salmon stock is getting less and less every year,” said Neekupdeh.

“How we take care of not only our land but our resources [is important].”

He listed salmon, moose and berries as examples of those resources that need care.

The feast included the return of salmon bones to the river, an ancient tradition that includes asking for the salmon to return.

“Unless we do it, we’ll forget it,” Neekupdeh told the crowd.

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David DeWitt returns the bones of the salmon eaten during the Witset feast with prayers to the salmon asking them to come back to the Widzin Kwah Canyon, as was the tradition of Wet’suwet’en ancestors. (Chris Gareau photo)

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