There were a lot of smiles and salmon in Whitehorse this week, as the Yukon First Nations Education Directorate gave away 30,000 pounds of free fish.
"We are very proud to give our First Nation families this donation," said Kim Harper, an advocate with the Yukon First Nations Education Directorate, which is a body announced in April to exert unified control over First Nation education.
Volunteers are distributing 10,000 pounds of frozen wild chum salmon and 20,000 pounds of B.C. canned salmon as part of the organization's rural nutrition program. The salmon is scheduled to be distributed all week at Takhini Arena until supplies run out.
People were particularly happy to receive the donation because salmon numbers on the Yukon River are well below historical average this year.
Harper and her co-worker bagged some very large 15 to 20 pound whole frozen chum salmon.
"Some of them are really big," said Harper. "It is a lot of work but we are loving every minute of it."
The free fish brought a lot of excitement from appreciative parents and elders.
"'I'm going to dig right into it right away ... I just love salmon," said Darlene Scurvey, who was picking up the free fish.
Yukon First Nations Education Directorate partnered with Second Harvest and Agriculture Canada Surplus Food Rescue Program to acquire the salmon.
It also worked with the Council of Yukon First Nations over the past year to create the Rural Nutritional Service Program through Jordan's Principle, which provides nutritional food programs as well as many other programs for First Nation children across Canada.
Melanie Bennett, executive director of the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate, says the program provides food for schools, as well.
"With our children if they are coming to school and they are well fed, their family is healthy and happy, then we are going to be producing successful learners," said Bennett.
All Whitehorse-based First Nation families with children are eligible to participate.