'Who we are:' Teslin Tlingit harvest first salmon in 17 years

Duane Aucoin of the Teslin Tlingit Council called Thursday 'a historic day', as the First Nation hauled in salmon at its first fish camp in a generation. 'Now the youth get to see this is how the salmon come to us.'

'It's welcoming home our family,' says Duane Aucoin of the Teslin Tlingit Council

There were only three fish, but in light of the last 17 years it was a bountiful harvest — and plenty cause for celebration.

The Teslin Tlingit Council ended a self-imposed moratorium on chinook salmon fishing on Thursday, by hauling in a net with three fat specimens from Teslin Lake, and holding a special ceremony.

"It's a historic day," said councillor Duane Aucoin.   

'I am so happy, and so filled with joy,' said Duane Aucoin of the Teslin Tlingit Council.

"It's not just us putting a net, and running a net, and getting salmon, getting food — this is part of who we are, who we are as Tlingit." 

Aucoin said the First Nation stopped harvesting salmon to help conserve the stocks for future generations.

Now, after years of flying fish in from down south, Aucoin said it was time to bring back a tradition, but on smaller scale — the First Nation plans to harvest 40 fish this year, instead of the thousands once caught.

"So now the youth get to see this is how the salmon come to us, and this is how we honour and respect them," Aucoin said.

"I ran the net with my grandmother, and I remember salmon bigger than me. A lot of our youth have never experienced that."

The First Nation will have two fish camps this year — one on Teslin Lake, and one on the Teslin River.

"It's welcoming home our family," Aucoin said.



With files from Mike Rudyk