“What do Salmon always do? They come back home.” Veronique Herry-St.Onge reflected to the crowd of Action Canada Fellows, representatives of the City of North Vancouver, and the Squamish First Nation as we were seated in the bright, newly designed atrium at the North Vancouver City Hall. We had spent the afternoon in the pouring Vancouver rain, experiencing the city’s own kind of salmon run, The North Shore Spirit Trail. I currently live in Boston but having grown up on the North shore of Vancouver, this felt especially true.
Walking the first part of the trail by the North Vancouver Marina, and speaking to the individuals who brought it to life gave us a special view of the partnership that created this large public project. The trail is a unique example of how collaboration between multiple governments can lead to the innovative development of public space. It’s the result of a partnership between The Squamish First Nation, The Federal Government, the Provincial Government, and the Cities of North & West Vancouver. It’s a project that symbolizes the building of relationships and the connecting of communities at a time when Vancouver, like many Canadian cities seems to be growing larger and more dispersed.
Once completed, the trail will provide any Vancouverite, visitor, or returning ‘salmon’ like myself, the opportunity to enjoy a cultural journey through some of the most beautiful shoreline Vancouver has to offer. And because the trail traces along land that is traditional Coast Salish territory, it is both uniquely reflective of the history of the land while also endeavoring to create new and shared history across communities. It’s a way to give the next generation, immigrants and children, the opportunity to go on a cultural journey with past and present caretakers of our land. While my current life journey takes me far from home, I’m excited to return again and again to experience this human ‘salmon run,’ both to retrace old memories and build new ones.
-Raven Smith, ’14