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Building Indigenous unity through the Wild Salmon Caravan

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Eddie Gardner of the Stó:lō Nation and Dawn Morrison of the Secwepemc Nation about the recent Wild Salmon Caravan. In mid-May, it travelled from Prince George to Vancouver, building unity, relationships and strength among the peoples whose territories it passed through, in defence of wild salmon, water and Indigenous sovereignty.

Right now British Columbia, most of it not covered by any sort of treaty, is a hotbed of struggle between many Indigenous nations defending their land, water and sovereignty on the one side, and a range of colonial interests threatening all of those things on the other. On the ground, this looks like fighting pipelines, opposing mines, revitalizing culture, demanding justice for missing and murdered women, and much more. These struggles are happening in different places, rooted in different nations and cultures, and focused on different targets. There's a lot going on, all of it matters, and those of us who are settlers in this land should be doing whatever we can in support of all of its manifestations.

Still, these many anti-colonial and decolonizing efforts aren't always as connected as they could be. So last fall, a group of Indigenous people from several nations in what gets called "B.C." got together at an event they called a Wild Salmon Convergence, to talk about the many threats to the wild salmon of the West Coast, and the many campaigns that, though they may seem to be about other things on the surface, are in significant part about protecting the salmon. Every mine, every pipeline, every fish farm, every development, every pollutant can have consequences for the wild salmon. And the wild salmon are absolutely central to ecosystems, to cultures, to Indigenous food systems and economies, and to the complex relational webs that in Indigenous worldviews encompass all of those things.

At that convergence, planning began for a Wild Salmon Caravan, to travel over four days in May from the headwaters to the sea, raising awareness about threats to the salmon, strengthening relationships between peoples, building coalitions, making plans, engaging in ceremony. The plan was to build unity across different nations, communities, struggles, and locations, through the shared commitment to protecting the salmon, the waters in which they live, and the strength and sovereignty of the nations for whom wild salmon are so central. Eddie Gardner has long been active in many different campaigns, including working against the damage done by fish farms to wild salmon. And Dawn Morrison is very active on issues of Indigenous food sovereignty. Both were central to the Wild Salmon Caravan, and they talk with me about what it involved, what it meant, and what they hope it helps to build.

To learn more about the Wild Salmon Caravan, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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