5 B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

5 B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Five western Vancouver Island First Nations have called on the federal government to take “meaningful action” and “redirect” surplus allocation of chinook salmon to their communities.

The First Nations are irked by the “disregard” of the federal government when they continue to prioritize tourists and recreational fishers over their food fish needs.

Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Ehattesaht and Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations, in a joint statement have urged the government to “not take the usual path and simply move the fish around” between non-indigenous sectors.

“People with only the privilege to fish, such as the sports fishermen and Area G trollers, seem to have more rights to the fish than our Five Nations do,” said Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo), lead negotiator for the Ahousaht First Nation.

The First Nations called government practices are “discriminatory,” adding Canada is refusing to acknowledge the impact they have on their Nations, culture, and well-being of their communities, especially in this time of the pandemic.

“We need the income and our members want to fish. Our Nations have an aboriginal right to fish commercially,” read the statement.

On April 19, 2018 – after years-long legal battle between the five nations and the federal government– B.C. Supreme court ruled in favour of aboriginal fishing rights above those of sportfishing.

In a 400-page judgment, the judge called for changes to government policies, and gave the federal government one year to make those changes. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was also asked to reconsider the priority they gave recreational fishermen for chinook and coho Salmon.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

But First Nations have said that despite winning the right to fish, victory seems “hollow” due to the “disregard and a refusal to move by the federal government. “

The First Nations have accused the DFO of again refusing to provide more fish to them, despite the low numbers of recreational and commercial fishers on the waters due to COVID-19.

“Given less tourism and conservation measures, there will be less catch by the recreational sector. This made an easy opportunity for DFO to give more fish to our Nations so that we could exercise our right and help support our remote communities, which are in economic crisis,” said the First Nations.

They also said that the DFO has been unwilling to engage with them about this issue, and if the call to make meaningful changes goes “unheeded”, the Nations will defend their rights.

“We cannot allow another season without meaningful access, with lost revenue for our fishermen, lost resources for our communities, and the continuation of harmful patterns that move us away, rather than toward, the reconciliation that the Prime Minister and ministers claim they support.”

More than 5,000 members of these First Nations have received as little as 1.5 food fish per member for the whole year, despite the Supreme Courts directive to the DFO to allow a ‘generous approach’ for first nations to harvest food fish.

“Each year, the amount of fish is so small that we have to make very difficult decisions about how to distribute fishing opportunities so that at least some members can cover expenses and make a go of it. But this damages our communities and it strikes at the core of our identity as fishing people,” read the statement.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

chinookDFOFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Cougar was caught on camera at a Coldstream Estates residence early Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (Brad Thomas photo)
VIDEO: Cougar caught on camera in Coldstream

A Coldstream Estates resident captured early-morning footage Wednesday

The RDCO is planning to flush water mains in the Westshore Estates water system. (Kim Sievers/Wikimedia Commons photo)
Repairs underway on Vernon water main break

Water service interrupted for around 15 properties on portion of 43rd Street

A pair of Okanagan Regional Library reference librarians have created a podcast called Hard Cover that takes a zany but informative look at books, libraries and librarians. (File photo)
Okanagan reference librarians produce quirky podcast

Davin Helkenberg and Peter Critchley are behind Hard Cover

A Shoppers Drug Mart employee in Vernon has tested positive for COVID-19, the company confirmed on Jan. 27, 2021. The last day the employee worked was Jan. 23. (K-J Millar - The Northern View)
COVID-19 case at Vernon Shoppers Drug Mart

Loblaws notes positive result on disclosure page

Okanagan Symphony Orchestra music director Rosemary Thomson in action at the podium. Photo by Lynda Miller.
Kelowna filmmaker gets funding to create new ‘Local Heroes’ documentary

The documentary will be focused on the director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and Opera

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

A 29-year-old Abbotsford woman twice crashed her car near Princeton on Saturday,… Continue reading

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

Kamloops RCMP covered the animal with a blanket and dragged it out of the home on a carpet. (Kamloops This Week)
Oh ‘deer’: Bambi breaks into Kamloops home

A deer got trapped into a Kamloops home and had to be escorted out by RCMP

Lesley Lutes, UBCO professor of psychology and director of the Centre for Obesity and Well-being Research Excellence. (Submitted)
UBCO psychologist part of Bell Let’s Talk virtual panel tonight at 6 p.m.

Panel will talk about coping under the stress of this pandemic

Vaseux Lake in winter. (Facebook)
Dogs rescued after falling through Okanagan Lake

Good Samaritans saved the trapped dogs

Superstore
Three employees test positive for COVID-19 at Okanagan Superstore

Penticton 7 Eleven has reopened after closing for a week for COVID

Most Read