Jennifer Sanchez just picked up fly fishing last year, and is completely hooked, according to Eiko Jones, who is currently working on a documentary examining Campbell River’s relationship with salmon. Sanchez will be just one of the many people featured in the film. Photo by Eiko Jones

Campbell River’s complex relationship with salmon

Eiko Jones looks to examine how salmon helped form Campbell River’s identity over time with new film

One of Campbell River’s most prolific and successful nature photographers has been tuning much of his attention to filmmaking recently, and he needs the community’s help to tell what he sees as a very important facet of its own story.

Eiko Jones is well known to the local – and international – arts community, as is his love of (and it might not be much of a stretch to call it an obsession with) salmon.

Jones and his partner Kim Isles – a talented artist in her own right – recently released a short film entitled Heartbeat of the River, which is the life story of salmon from their perspective, “but this film is the story of how Salmon have shaped the identity of Campbell River itself,” Jones says. “We’re looking at salmon from the human standpoint this time. We want to examine how salmon have provided us with food, sustenance, income, lifestyle, hobbies, recreation, the whole gamut.”

Part of that history, of course, is the relationship the local First Nations have had with the fish “from well before white history here and then into European contact, through the development of the Tyee Club, Roderick Haig-Brown coming here, through commercial fishing, sport fishing, right through to today with the changing fishing regulations and how those changes are also changing how we see tourism and eco-tourism and why people are coming here.

“Then we’re going to go ahead and try to look into the future and look at how people and organizations are coming together with new technologies and innovations to preserve the salmon runs and preserve the species,” Jones continues. “We’re going to look at new applied technologies for fish modeling and fish health. It’s going to be pretty wide-ranging and in-depth.”

But a story with this kind of ambitious scope obviously takes funding. That’s where the community itself can help – for free.

Jones and Isles are applying for a Telus Storyhive grant to help make the project a reality and part of the process is a public vote on the projects being proposed. The $50,000 grants being offered by Telus during this round of intakes for the program will go a long way to helping the project along its way.

Here’s the direct link to the voting page for Salmon Capital Campbell River

While many documentaries – and filmmakers – use the medium to impose a message on the audience, Jones says he’s more interested in exploring the issues with the people involved in all facets of our community’s relationship with salmon, and let the story play out however it will.

“A lot of films start with a premise that something is bad, so then they go out and everything they film is about trying to prove that point. We’re not trying to put out a particular idea, we’re just trying to show the state of salmon in Campbell River and how the community formed around salmon. That’s it. There’s no agenda.”

That’s not to say that they’ll be shying away from controversial issues, however.

“You can’t talk about salmon in Campbell River without looking at aquaculture – good or bad,” Jones says. “So we are going to be looking at aquaculture as part of the equation and how that discussion has evolved over time, as well. We’re not out to prove anything, but we do want to get some conversation happening. We’re not interested in polarization or fistfights or just people yelling their points of view, but we’ll be getting both sides of that discussion involved, as well, because it’s an important facet of the conversation around salmon in Campbell River.”

While Jones says the Storyhive funding would make things a whole lot easier, it’s not a make-or-break situation in terms of getting the film made.

“It’s an amazing story, so we’re going to do it anyway, but this grant money would really help us out,” Jones says. “We’ve got, I’d say, about a third of the funding we need for the project already, thanks to some generous donors, but this would probably push us over our goal.”

Voting on the project proposals starts on Tuesday, May 28 at noon, Jones says, and people can vote every day the voting is open.

You can find the voting page by going to storyhive.com and searching for Salmon Capital Campbell River.



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