Lakes and rivers take up a sizable portion of the boreal forest land area, and these waterways are home to several species of freshwater fish, including lake trout, walleye, whitefish, burbot, and northern pike. Northern species of fish have adapted to cold water conditions and remain active in the winter. Many species of northern fish engage in two major migrations throughout the year, once in the spring or summer, when species migrate from their feeding waters to spawning areas, and again in the autumn, when they return from their spawning places. For some species, like goldeye and whitefish, migrations can follow waterways for hundreds of kilometres.
Fish were primarily a food source for northern Aboriginal Peoples, and certain species like lake trout were preferred over others like northern pike. Usually, pike were reserved as food for dog-teams, or as bait for traps. Fish eggs were eaten, or added to bannock mixture as a thickener. Fish fat was saved and used as a cooking oil. Outside of their culinary purposes, fish were used by Aboriginal Peoples in artistic ways as well. Fish scales could be dried and coloured with dye for use in crafts like necklace making.
Featured Video: Fishing and Fish Preparation
The Heritage Community Foundation, with the kind permission of Terry Garvin, is pleased to present this feature excerpt from the Bush Land People video.
Fish are an essential food source to both the people of the boreal forest and to their dog-teams. The catching and preparation of fish is an activity common to many northwest Aboriginal Peoples.