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Video: shíshálh Nation members hold ceremony for dead fin whale

Cause of rare animal’s death in the Salish Sea under investigation

As a young fin whale’s 13-metre body laid out of its element in an intertidal zone, members of shíshálh Nation sang and drummed, brushing the whale’s body in ceremony. 

For shíshálh Nation, the whale is considered a family member, and holds great strength and spiritual power. 

“It means a lot for me and my family here to be standing where we are,” Steven Feschuk (xwash), protector of culture for shíshálh Nation, said in a DFO video from the March 20 ceremony. “We hope that the spirit of this animal is going to help teach all of us from the work that you’re doing here and we're here to witness.” 

Before he began, the drummer thanked the whale for being part of the teaching.

“We’re here today to show our respect to this member of our family,” Sid Quinn, the Nation’s resource management director, said in the video. 

After he placed the branches used to brush the whale into the ocean, Quinn raised his hands in thanks. 

The necropsy could begin.  

The fin whale’s death was reported in the Pender Harbour area on March 17. The cause of the young animal’s demise is now under investigation.