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

Just Posted

The District of Saanich has pinpointed funding requests to Oak Bay and Victoria to help offset the purchase price of the Kings Park greenspace and keep the property intact. (Courtesy District of Saanich)
Saanich requests funding help from neighbours to preserve Kings Road green space

District hopes Victoria and Oak Bay will join them in protecting urban green space

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stood at 6.3 per cent in May 2021, nearly unchanged from April’s rate of 6.2 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
Unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stagnates at 6.3 per cent in May

Latest figures reflect conditions before lifting of public health measures

North Saanich council Monday will consider the results of a survey conducted by the North Saanich Residents Association that finds little support for increased densification. (Black Press Media File)
Survey finds little support for increased density in North Saanich

North Saanich Residents Association conducted the online survey

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read