Current Projects

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PhD Program at Simon Fraser University

As of January 2014, I am a PhD student in Jon Moore’s lab at Simon Fraser. While the PhD is still in its nascent stages, the work will focus on leveraging the information generated through the Heiltsuk Salmon Program to produce research that yields insight into the processes that structure and maintain diverse, resilient salmon ecosystems and fisheries.

Heiltsuk Salmon Program

During my PhD I will be continuing in my capacity as Salmon Program Coordinator with Qqs Projects Society, an indigenous driven non-profit society based in the Heiltsuk First Nation community of Bella Bella. This summer will mark year three of my involvement with Qq’s salmon programs. For the third consecutive year we will run a mark-resight study of sockeye salmon in the Namu Lake watershed, a place where Heiltsuk have harvested salmon for thousands of years, and where there is currently very little monitoring of salmon populations. We are also hoping to expand this work this year to include monitoring of coho and sockeye in the Beales and Gullchuks watersheds near Bella Bella.

We are also very excited about the Koeye River traditional fish weir. In 2013 we built a traditional fish weir on the lower Koeye River as a means of enumerating returning sockeye salmon. The Koeye is the largest producer of sockeye in Heiltsuk territory and is currently unmonitored by DFO. The project is unique in that it employs Heiltsuk traditional practices to support research and monitoring. Not only is the weir filling key gaps  in our knowledge of Central Coast salmon populations, it is also building capacity for cultural and natural stewardship within the community and is providing a wonderful educational opportunity for kids from the Bella Bella community school and the Koeye River summer camp run by Qqs.

Sitting on Water

Working closely with Jessie Housty (Communications Director at QQs), photographer and film-maker Ilja Herb, and editor Andrew Naysmith of Oak Bay Johnny Productions, I have spent the last 9 months producing a documentary film called Sitting on Water – A Season on the Koeye River, about the Koeye River weir project. As of March 14th, 2014 the film launched and we are very happy with how things turned out.

Sitting on Water (the English translation of the Heiltsuk word Koeye) tells the story of the Heiltsuk First Nation and their work to ensure a sustainable future for their community’s salmon fisheries. The film documents efforts to build and operate a traditional fish weir in the Koeye River and the emerging role of First Nations in stewardship up and down the coast. Fish weirs, cedar fences which were built across rivers for thousands of years, were traditionally used by First Nations to selectively harvest salmon as they returned to spawn each year. However, until the spring of 2013 the practice had been dormant in the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella for more than one hundred years. The documentary follows our crew through the ups and downs of a season as we take the weir project from an idea to a reality, revitalizing the age-old practice of weir-building to provide the first ever estimates of sockeye salmon returns to the Koeye River. Through this work and other initiatives, the Heiltsuk are asserting their rights as the traditional stewards of their territory, building on centuries of cultural knowledge to create a sustainable future for their community and the entire Central Coast.

check it out: http://sittingonwater.ca/

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