Photos by Chris Gadsden.
The Council of Canadians Chilliwack chapter joined a rally in Vancouver yesterday in solidarity with Indigenous peoples to call for an end to open-pen fish farms. The Rally to End Fish Farms in the Broughton Archipelago took place as the new British Columbia government met with First Nation leaders at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
CBC reports, “Dozens of Indigenous leaders and protestors rallied outside the Vancouver Convention Centre [on Thursday September 7] urging the province to dismantle salmon farms along the British Columbia coast. The calls came as environmentalists and members of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw and the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwamis First Nations occupy two [Norwegian-owned] Marine Harvest Canada salmon farms in their territorial waters off the north end of Vancouver Island.”
Chapter activist Suzy Coulter tells us, “Lots of us from Chilliwack were inspired to attend this rally, lead by Eddie Gardner, Sto:lo elder and leader of the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance.” Gardner says, “This fish farm industry is posing a real danger to bringing our wild salmon to extinction, and it must be stopped.”
The article highlights, “Chief Willie Moon was among the many leaders who spoke at the rally. He says frustrations have mounted as repeated calls directed at the provincial and federal governments to revoke fish farm licensing in traditional Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory have gone unheard.”
The outreach for the rally noted, “We are calling on the BC Cabinet to exercise provincial jurisdiction to revoke licences of occupation given to fish farms in their territories, thus putting an end to 30 years of fish farm violations of their Indigenous rights, and result in a very meaningful act of reconciliation.”
BC’s Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham says, “This is an issue that won’t be solved overnight, but one that will require having everyone at the table to determine solutions going forward.” The North Island Gazette has reported, “Both the Green Party and the NDP candidates previously stated they would work to remove salmon farms from the territories of First Nations who do not want salmon farms operating in their waters.”
The Council of Canadians first began raising concerns about farmed salmon in March 2013. Open-pen fish farms are the aquatic version of factory farming, are rampant with diseases and sea lice, pose a threat to the health of wild salmon and herring stocks, in turn endanger an important food source for bears and whales, and both violate Indigenous rights and threaten their traditional way of life.
Indigenous peoples occupy Norwegian-owned salmon farm in northwestern British Columbia (August 2017)