A Mirror file photo from Sept. 26, when First Nations marched in Campbell River, in solidarity with 100 other Nations throughout the province to protest against fish farms in B.C.’s coastal waters. (Photo by Marc Kitteringham)

A Mirror file photo from Sept. 26, when First Nations marched in Campbell River, in solidarity with 100 other Nations throughout the province to protest against fish farms in B.C.’s coastal waters. (Photo by Marc Kitteringham)

Vancouver Island First Nation chief tells mayors to butt out of Discovery Island fish farm consultations

Homalco chief asking mayors to be ‘respectful’ of the ‘government-to-government’ process

A Vancouver Island First Nation chief schooled four North Island mayors on how Aboriginal Rights work in response to them asking to be let in on Discovery Island fish farm consultations with the federal government.

Last month in a letter addressed to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Bernadette Jordan, mayors of Campbell River, Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Gold River asked to be a part of the ongoing consultation process between the minister’s office and seven First Nations with regards to the transitional plight of 18 fish farms in the Discovery Islands.

READ MORE: Mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations

The mayors cited economic and cultural repercussions that could affect their communities and wanted an opportunity to have their voices “heard and considered” before a “final decision” was made in this matter.

Homalco First Nation chief Darren Blaney is irked that the North Island mayors did not contact the Nations involved directly “before involving other levels of government.”

In a response statement, Blaney said that the mayors’ requests should have first been communicated to the neighbouring First Nations in the “spirit of collaboration and reconciliation.”

“Imagine the surprise felt at reading your request, not in a letter to our own governments, but in the local media,” wrote Blaney in a letter addressed to the mayors.

“Asking to be inserted into a consultation process between First Nations and the Government of Canada is no small request, and is one that I would have much preferred to be discussed among our communities prior to involving other levels of government,” he said in the letter which is also copied to North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney and North Island MLA Michele Babchuk.

The Homalco chief also said that the consultation process is a government-to-government undertaking, very much like the ‘Broughton process’ which was recognized by the industry, provincial and federal government and Indigenous governments.

(Blaney is referring to the 2018 consultations that the Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations had with the province regarding the plight of 17 open-pen finfish farms in Broughton Archipelago. )

“The Cohen Commission specifically set out the requirement for these discussions between existing parties,” Blaney said, and further asked municipal governments to be “respectful during this time” and to reach out to the Nations personally if they wish to discuss the matter.

Fresh out of a meeting with DFO, Blaney told the Mirror that the mayors are rightly not part of the consultation process as it is based on constitutionally-protected Aboriginal Rights.

“The mayors are not aboriginal, they have not been here for thousands of years, they do not have the rights. They don’t have to pass on knowledege about salmon to their next generation. So they are happy with the tax base they collect from the fish farms and that is their only concern,” he said and added, “It’s our culture, territory and its stewardship.”

Along with Homalco First Nation, Jordan’s office is also in talks with Klahoose, Komoks, Kwiakah, Tla’amin, We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) and Wei Wai Kum (Campbell River) First Nations in the region.

Parliamentary Secretary Terry Beech is leading the consultations with First Nations, the aquaculture industry and conservation groups on the transition.

Minister Jordan will ultimately conclude whether licences for these farms will be renewed at the end of the year.

The fisheries minister announced that DFO will come up with a plan to transition away from open-net pen salmon farming in B.C.’s waters by 2025.

The Cohen Commission had called for removal of the 18 Discovery Island farms by Sept. 30, unless the health risk was determined to be minimal. While DFO announced on Sept. 28 that the Discovery Island farms pose little risk to wild salmon, opponents of open-net farming cried foul and pointed to a separate study that concluded that the risk was significant.

– With files from Zoe Ducklow, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Black Press Media.

First NationsFish Farms

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

Just Posted

District of Tofino election official Jayson Towers and election deputy chief Cass Spence welcome Tofitians to the polls. (Nora O’Malley photo)
TOFINO BY-ELECTION 2021: General voting day is today

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tofino Community Hall

Nelly and Jens Heyduck hold samples of their Ahoy Bags made from discarded sails. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet’s Ahoy Bags up for two Small Business BC Awards

German-Canadian wife and husband team transform old sails into one-of-a-kind beach bags

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht man by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht on Feb. 27. (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Police have killed more TFN members than COVID has,’ First Nation demands transparency in Tofino RCMP shooting investigation

Julian Jones, a 28 year-old Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation man was shot and killed by police on Feb. 27.

Blue Crush Concierge co-owners Ashley Wells and Erika Greenland, pictured here following COVID-19 social distancing alongside their dogs Hank and Lady Bird, are up for two SBBC awards. (Photo courtesy of Erika Greenland)
Three Tofino companies up for Small Business BC Awards

Tofino Kombucha, Blue Crush Concierge and Surf Sister all received nomination honours.

Fish and Loaves Humane Society volunteers Bobby Burns, left, and John Enns, right, receive Volunteer Recognition Awards from acting mayor Duncan McMaster during the free food hand out at the Tofino Legion on Feb.24. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino Fish and Loaves volunteers Enns and Burns cheered for community service

“He’s a very conscientious and hard-working, giving volunteer.”

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

Most Read