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Why Sturgeon

Elder Ellen Cook writes,

"Many Indigenous people believe we came from sturgeon long ago. Sacred stories demonstrate both the social and religious value of Indigenous people-sturgeon relations. One example is an oral story which appears throughout much of North America and is known as “The Birth of Wisakecak and the Origin of Mankind”, and also as “The Chase”, or “The Legend of the Rolling Head.”

The first known written form was by Rev. James Settee in 1810.

The sturgeon continues to be revered by many Indigenous people throughout much of Canada. Historically, it was a staple fish and people followed the sturgeon to where it was plentiful. One sturgeon could feed the whole family and it was considered a hearty food and a species to be respected and protected in its own right.

Why Sturgeon: Take Action

Sturgeon Today

The sturgeon population in rivers dammed by hydro development are suffering. Tataskweyak Cree Nation are working with research company AAE Tech Services to study the sturgeon on the Lower Churchill River, hoping that their findings will help put this species on the Species at Risk list, forcing Manitoba Hydro to moderate their operation in a way that balances:

  • the livelihood needs of the communities who use the water

  • the habitat and spawning needs of the endangered Lake Sturgeon, and

  • stable energy production for consumers.

The first step towards this balance is limiting the lake, flow and discharge levels of the Churchill River Diversion (see below) to those in the originally agreed upon operational license.

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Sturgeon Facts

  • Sturgeon take 20 years to reach sexual maturity and reproduce every 4 years.

  • Sturgeon eggs take 5-7 days to hatch

  • The largest sturgeon ever recorded in Manitoba was 15′ 2″ long, weighing 406 lbs.

  • In good conditions, these fish can thrive and live up to 150 years.

  • Lake Sturgeon are one of the oldest species on the planet.

  • Lake Sturgeon are playful and intelligent. Some scientists have seen Lake Sturgeon display individual personalities, such as inventive feeding strategies and playfulness. Lake Sturgeon have been seen tail walking (‘walking’ on their tails on water’s surface) and porpoising (jumping up in the air). (

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