Sara McPhail poses with a copy of Elders, Oldtimers and Salmon (Shannon McPhail photo)

Hazelton local fishes for ways to raise awareness on Skeena salmon

Sara McPhail might be young, but that isn’t stopping her from spreading the word of her elders.

Sara McPhail might be young, but that isn’t stopping her from spreading the word of her elders.

In an effort to raise awareness on at-risk populations of Skeena salmon, the 10-year-old Hazelton resident has taken it upon herself to mail copies of Elders, Oldtimers and Salmon, a book that interviewed Hazelton and Gitxsan residents about their thoughts on changes they’ve seen to the resource over the years.

When asked about her passion for the topic at such a young age, Sara did not mince words.

“Fish are important,” she said, adding that one common underlying theme she hears from others who have lived in the area for many years is that, while various populations might ebb and flow, salmon populations in the Skeena watershed have decreased drastically over the past few decades.

She added she was inspired to mail the book — written in 2010 by Gretel Miles — to local libraries in the watershed to raise awareness on issues facing local salmon to help immortalize the legacy of those involved.

“They’re really special people and I want everyone else to know how special and who [they] are,” she said.

Sara adds that she herself has seen changes in the area, discussing a trip she took to a local river.

“We were drinking water from the river and my mom found out and she [said] we cant drink the water from the river because [it] had algae in it,” she said, adding that this was the first year ever that they had not been able to drink from that specific river.

“I thought, how come we’ve been able to drink water for every other year?” she said.

When asked about her passion on the subject at such a young age, Sara said that she thinks it’s important for kids to realize that just because they are young, it doesn’t mean they can’t be proactive about environmentalism and cleaning up their community.

She added that anyone who takes the time to clean up their local surroundings will definitely notice the difference on a personal, first-hand level and that, sometimes, all it takes is getting out and picking up that first piece of trash.

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