Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun, Sustenance, digital, 5.8″ x 3.3″, 2020
My late great-grandpa, Chief Doug White, Tiqwup, always referred to salmon as brain food. One of my favourite memories with him was when we went on a fishing trip as a family. Four generations of Snuneymuxw; he, my grandpa, my dad, and then my brother and I. He loved to fish. My dad always talks about how they would go fishing all the time when he was young.
Salmon is so cherished, and rightly so: it has sustained us, our people and our way of life. It is a backbone of who we are. I remember reading a quote somewhere “no Salish person ever presumed to have caught a fish by virtue of their own ability or talents. It was entirely by the generosity of the fish.” Our relationship with the beings who sustain us is powerful, it can’t be described in simple terms like hunting or gathering.
In Snuneymuxw, the Kwaluxw (dog salmon) are our relatives. One of our ancestors went and married into the dog salmon people. That is the origin of the run on our river. It is because our relatives’ love for us is that strong that their descendants continue to spawn here and feed us. For that we must honour them and show gratitude.