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Return of the Salmon Ceremony: Girl Guides of Canada

posted Sep 11, 2017, 9:28 PM by Julie Purdy /RBSU

The Haida People of the NW had a way of ensuring that the salmon would return year after year. There is a very special bond between mankind and the salmon world, involving many ritual obligations and taboos.  Since the salmon was one of the main sources of food for Haida, it was treated with deep respect and the Salmon Ceremony was an important celebration every year.    The baby salmon are born in the rivers and streams of British Columbia, and shortly after birth, they swim many, many miles until they reach the Pacific Ocean where they spend their whole life.  You have joined the Rancho Bernardo Service Unit and by learning and understanding the Promise and Law and participating in our programs, you are now ready to dedicate yourself if you are new members or rededicate yourselves if returning leaders as members of the Sisterhood of Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding.   The grown salmon have many adventures while they swim to the ocean but they always come back to the exact place where they were born - swimming up rivers and streams, overcoming many obstacles such as waterfalls in order to return to the place of their birth. We hope that you will continue to grow and learn new skills throughout your Girl Scout years and each year you can pass on what you have learned to your younger sisters who are just beginning their journey as new leaders.  Before anyone can participate in a Haida Salmon Ceremony, they must purify their body and soul. This is done by burning sage.  When everyone is pure they go down to the river and wait for the salmon to come.  While we are waiting, please take a minute to think about all that this past year has brought you and for the sacrifice of the salmon but for the kindness and sacrifices that people in your life have made that have allowed you to be Girl Scouts.   Once the special salmon are caught they are carried to the village and cooked over fires. The whole village gathers around the fire.    Can you please all join me around our fire?   All the villagers are given a small piece of fish, leaving the head, bones and tail in one piece.  I will now give you each a fish.  There is then singing and dancing but instead of that, let us repeat the Girl Scout Law.

I will do my best to be 
honest and fair, 
friendly and helpful, 
considerate and caring, 
courageous and strong, and 
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others, 
respect authority, 
use resources wisely, 
make the world a better place, and 
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

The Shaman then cares the fish skeleton back to the stream where the salmon was caught.  While offering a prayer, he throws the bones back into the river, giving thanks for the salmon which will sustain the Haida for the rest of the year.  Let us repeat the GS Promise.  I welcome you all back to the RB Service Unit and to the world-wide Sisterhood of Girl Scouting and Girl Guides.   I hope that our service unit will sustain you in your leading of girls for the coming year.