Fish fry defended

Dear sir:
In his letter to the editor last week, Allan Kielczewski asked for our thoughts on the Manitou fish fry. I am happy to share my thoughts both as a reader of Mr. Kielczewski’s annual letter on this subject and as one who enjoyed the event.
When Treaty #3 was signed, the natives were assured they would be able to continue to fish as they had done since time immemorial. The fish fry is, in my view, a symbolic continuation of the annual harvest that brought people from the whole region together to share in the bounty of the river.
I assume that Mr. Kielczewski would not be concerned about the fish fry if fish populations were not in decline. Nonetheless, the fishery is not in trouble because of this event.
The fishery faces pressure from over-harvest, as well as habitat degradation through many and varied modern activities. Rainy River First Nations has taken the lead role in habitat improvement through its watershed program, the ManOMin conference, and Household Hazardous Waste Day.
The band also has a self-imposed moratorium on commercial fishing and is attempting to bring the sturgeon population back to health.
At the most recent ManOMin conference, RRFN Chief Al Hunter invited those who love the land, and take their living from it, to come together in a co-operative and respectful manner to develop a way of ensuring sustainability, not only of the fishery, but of all other sources of sustenance derived from the land and water.
I appreciate the wisdom of the elders of RRFN in identifying stewardship as important role for their community, and I commend Chief Hunter for his efforts to broaden both the project and the community of involvement.
Yours truly,
Rick Neilson
Stratton, Ont.

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