In 2008, the Kwikwetlem, working with partners in the community for almost 8 years, were instrumental in bringing back the salmon to the Coquitlam River. In 2001, BC Hydro decided to upgrade the dam on the Coquitlam River, and they consulted with the Kwikwetlem and other interested groups to make sure that the kokanee salmon, which were trapped behind the original reservoir, could once again migrate to the ocean and be trucked back into the reservoir to spawn. Kwikwetlem’s George Chaffee and Glen Joe were thrilled when 15 of the fish swam back in July of 2008. “It just goes to show that you can restore salmon runs if you try,” Chaffee said. It is hoped that the Kwikwetlem will one day be able to fish as their elders did.16 2010 saw the launch of the first cedar canoe carved on the Kwikwetlem reserve in over 100 years, the canoe measuring over 15
metres in length. The Kwikwetlem’s story is represented in Coquitlam’s Spirit Square, which celebrates the rejuvenation of the salmon in the Coquitlam River, much of the story involving the Joe family. The band also took part in the 2010 Winter Olympic Torch Relay and came dressed in modern versions of their traditional dress, marking a new spirit and positiveness. Much work has been done to provide proper housing by building up to date residences for the people living on the Kwikwetlem Reserves. They are starting new businesses and of the 63 Kwikwetlem First Nations people, more than 30 now live on their traditional lands. The Kwikwetlem First Nation, a small and private group, stands proud of its heritage and hopeful of its future at the mouth of the Coquitlam River.
The Kwikwetlem band has two land reserves. Indian Reserve #1 is located at the mouth of the Coquitlam River near present day Colony Farm on Lougheed Hwy and consists of 6.5 acres. Indian reserve #2 consists of 202 acres approximately three miles up the Coquitlam River and includes a cemetery of approximately 18.4 acres. These lands have been confirmed by carbon dating to have been continuously occupied by First Nations people since 2260 BCE or for over 4270 years.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation
“It just goes to show that you can restore salmon runs if you try,”
Published on Mar 3, 2017