Tsawout Seafood Festival returns

Event will draw over 2,000 people to Tsawout First Nation on June 14

Becky Wilson

After a two year hiatus due to budgetary constraints, the Tsawout First Nation’s popular Seafood Festival will be back June 14.

The festival, started by Dan Claxton of Salish Strait Seafoods, draws people from all over Victoria and the Island and this year organizers are expecting more than 2,000 attendees.

“We had about 2,000 people at our last festival so we’re expecting to top that this year,” said Tsawout Recreation Administrative Assistant Becky Wilson.

Claxton spearheaded the festival about a half dozen years ago after he noticed a decline in the access to fresh seafood among local First Nations members.

“Years ago I would deliver fresh seafood to our elders and I would notice time and time again that the younger people were asking about the various types of fish and shellfish because they didn’t know what they were,” he explained.

“The festival is a way to reintroduce and reincorporate traditional foods and plants into our culture because many people aren’t in touch with this side of our culture.”

Claxton said the festival will feature clams, prawns, crab, sea urchin, mussels, octopus and salmon — all locally sourced by Tsawout’s own fishermen or from other First Nations.

“Things like salmon, prawns and crab we can fish here but things like clams and mussels we get from up island either by trading with other First Nations or private companies,” he said.

The festival will also demonstrate traditional cooking methods like a pit cook and salmon cooking on an open fire.

“The goal is to show people how important traditional food and knowledge is to our people,” Claxton said.

Drumming, arts and crafts and singing will also take place during the festival.

The 2014 Seafood Festival, which is free (by donation) for anyone to attend, will be held at TIXEN (Cordova Spit) on Saturday, June 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parking is available at the Tsawout community centre and there will be shuttles down to TIXEN running all day. Parking for those with disabilities and vendors will be available right at TIXEN.

The opening of Tsawout’s new carving shed will be the same day and those waiting for the shuttle will have a chance to check it out. For details on the festival, to volunteer or become a vendor at the festival visit www.tsawout.com or call 250-652-9101.