Kwikwetlem First Nation

 
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Kwikwetlem culture is similar to that of other Aboriginal people, especially other Stó:lô and Northwest Coast groups, who are a unique people with specific cultural traditions and political interests unlike anyone else's. Kwikwetlem means "Red Fish Up The River," in reference to the salmon that have historically travelled up the Coquitlam River for centuries. Kwikwetlem First Nation currently has 72 members who reside throughout Western Canada and the United States. The tribe is Coast Salish and traditional language is Halq'eméylem.

Kwikwetlem elders' stories explain that they have always been here. Archaeology confirms continuous occupation of the traditional territory for at least 9,000 years, since the last ice age. First Nations people were the only human inhabitants in the Lower Coquitlam River watershed and areas beyond until post contact times when European settlers came to live here as well. The first European to pass through the Lower Coquitlam River watershed was Simon Fraser. In 1808, Fraser and his group traveled down the Fraser River past the mouth of the Coquitlam River. Post contact settlement in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam began in the mid 1800s.

The Kwikwetlem First Nation have been active partners in a joint initiative with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), BC Hydro, Metro Vancouver, and the Cities of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam in restoring sockeye salmon to the Coquitlam Reservoir. Through the efforts of the Coquitlam Reservoir Sockeye Salmon Restoration Program there were high hopes for success in the summer of 2006, when 11 sockeye adults returned (from some 200 smolts that exited the reservoir in 2004) and were released above the Coquitlam Lake Dam. This was the first known return of sockeye in 100 years. Since that time there have been few (2 males one year) or no returns and the program has been unsuccessful because it has not been possible to get even a few uninjured, outmigrating sockeye smolts from the reservoir to the Coquitlam River below the dam. The current strategy should focus on improving conditions for successful outmigration of Sockeye smolts from the reservoir to the Coquitlam River below.

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Our Roundtable Watershed Coordinator can be reached at coordinator@coquitlamriverwatershed.ca

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