Saturday October 7 at 10 AM
The Fish Rescue happens at Buffalo Rock Tipi Camp. The push will happen at the LNID flume that is located on this site. Lunch will be served for all volunteers down at the camp kitchen.
For a map and directions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
More About the Site
The terrain where the rescue takes place is not wheelchair accessible. It is grassland and gravel, with various inclines. The lunch provided is not mandatory to attend, lunch served is something warm (soup, stew, chilli have been made in years past) with some sort of bread (bannock, fry bread and buns have been featured in previous rescue lunches) and a fizzy beverage. If you have specific dietary restrictions or concerns, bringing your own lunch might be preferable. Certain volunteering positions are physically demanding so please choose the tasks you wish to participate in with thought and care. There is no ASL interpreter on site for the rescue. English is the primary language used in communications, though some volunteers speak Blackfoot, French, Ukrainian, and Cree.
Some gear (waders, boots, nets) will be available to borrow. We can’t guarantee there will be enough waders, nets and boots for everyone, so if you have your heart set on a specific job, you should definitely bring your own equipment and gear!
Please anticipate any kind of weather. The fish rescue happens rain or shine!
What to Expect
There will be a briefing and introductions at 10:00 AM sharp, first push at 11:00 AM.
The push involves 4-6 volunteers gently bringing a seine down 1 km of the canal. It is then unfolded and pushed back so the fish are guided to the shallow waters. After 3-4 “pushes”, we finish lifting up the fish and documenting and hen we will break for lunch! After lunch is the celebrated, then the fish slide extravaganza: we release the fish via a slide into the Oldman River.
This is fast-paced work, find the job that feels most comfortable! There are different areas to engage in rescuing fish for volunteers with different skill levels and abilities! We will have several teams:
1. The push. This is cold and tough work as you will push a large net 1 km down the irrigation canal in the cold water. It is both time sensitive and requires patience.
2. Catching fish. This is great for children! It also requires delicacy as we must minimize stress to the fish as much as possible.
3. Buckets. This requires a good deal of upper body strength and situational awareness.
4. Sending the fish down the slide! Also a kid-favourite.
5. Catching the fish at the bottom of the side to ensure they don't hit the water too hard.
Peigan Friends Along the River Fish Rescue
More About the Fish Rescue...
We had the honour of confirming the presence of all life cycles of bull trout including eggs stranded in the irrigation canal. Last year Siksikaitsitapi (The Blackfoot Tribal Council) Aohkii working group worked hard on stewarding the The South Saskatchewan River watershed with the Native Trout Recovery Project. Aquatic species at risk (SAR) has been identified as a priority under the Blackfoot Confederacy Aohkii (Water) working group as fish species continue to decline. You can learn more about the project and the importance of water and fish to the Blackfoot people here:
- 2020-2021 Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council Native Trout Recovery Project: Blackfoot shared leadership and capacity support in native trout recovery addressing climate change, non-native species, and habitat loss.
- The Significance of Fish and Water to the Blackfoot People: a collection of shortened interviews with 6 Blackfoot Elders
Learn more about Bull Trout here:
The Beginning & The Land:
The Fish Rescue began in 1990 due to the tragic death of fish stranded in the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District's irrigation canal and diversion weir. As a result of the irrigation demand by LNID, water is diverted away from the Oldman River and channeled via canal system for several hundred of kilometres to meet irrigation demands. The diversion weir and main canal are located on the Piikani reservation.
Harley Bastien’s family have been stewarding the land along the Old Man River here for generations. Operations along it are conducted through Buffalo Rock Tipi Camp and include: land stewardship, cultural activities, education for the youth, knowledge-sharing and language programming. The annual Peigan Friends Along the River (PFAR) Fish Rescue and Buffalo Rocks Fest are two events that happen here.
To date well over 300,000 fish have been successfully rescued and released back to the river. Fish species include but are not limited to: mountain whitefish; bull, rainbow and brown trout; Northern pike, sturgeon, lingcod, spoon head sculpin, minnows, and fry.
What We Do:
The rescue consists of volunteers herding the stranded fish into shallow water inside the canal. They are held in the oxygenated holding tanks and then transported to and released back into the Oldman River. You can watch videos of the rescue in action here.
- Some information on Buffalo Rock Tipi Camp.
- Fundraising Merchandise.
- Buffalo Rock Tipi Camp website
- Niitsítapi Water Protectors