This summer thousands of paper salmon, created by children from Northwestern B.C., will be on display in Prince Rupert.
The salmon were made in schools by students from preschool through grade 12, teachers and parents, and then used to create 28 larger paper-mache salmon that are mounted on steel posts for outside display.
Shannon Hurst of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition was in Prince Rupert Tuesday offering the display to the City of Prince Rupert.
The project, 10,000 Salmon, started out as one of SWCC’s unique ideas and was part of the massive awakening of the Skeena River movement that saw Ali Howard swim the river in the summer of 2009, said Hurst.
“Her story has quickly become world renown, but the effect she had on the communities in the Northwest is, and was, even more impressive today. A great testament to that was the project that started with 10,000 templates being sent to schools all across the Northwest last year.”
Originally the large salmon were put on display along the river in Old Hazelton last summer, where they posed a huge attraction to tourists and residents.
“When they are combined as a school of fish all moving together, the effect is extremely impressive,” said Hurst, adding while residents of Hazelton would love to have the fish installed in their community permanently, the coalition wants to share the art with other communities.
According to Hurst, Prince Rupert was the first pick because it’s where the salmon begin their swim up the Skeena River and there are thousands of residents and tourists that could enjoy seeing the display.
She looked at various locations in the community and suggested Mariner’s Park to council as a possibility. Included with the display is a hand-carved wooden map of the Skeena. Placement of the fish is adaptable because they can be mounted closer together or spread apart, depending on the amount of space available.
Councillor Gina Garon suggested the empty triangle shaped space adjacent to the park where cruise ship passengers first walk from the ship towards town and Cow Bay, but council told Hurst it would have to consult with the City’s public works department before finalizing anything.
While council accepted the display offer and approved spending up to $750 for the cost of its installation, there were no promises of a location at the meeting
Garon also wondered about the project standing up to Prince Rupert’s climate and heard that the large salmon were freshly lacquered.
They won’t last forever, which is why SWCC wants to share them with other communities, but so far they have been standing up to the elements. The biggest concern is that the colours will fade.
When asked by Councillor Joy Thorkelson if there is a message attached to the display, Hurst suggested the display speaks for itself.
“The main motivation for the Skeena Watershed was to bring awareness about our salmon and the importance of it and to tell the world that communities got together to put this together. I did get the opportunity to interview some tourists about the project last year and one couple from Germany was amazed to see so many people get together to save their fish,” Hurst said.