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

James Taylor, a Saanich resident and member of the Curve Lake First Nation, walked all over Greater Victoria on May 5 in honour of Red Dress Day and the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Devon Bidal/News staff)
Indigenous man walks Greater Victoria to honour missing and murdered women and girls

James Taylor, of the Curve Lake First Nation, marks Red Dress Day with healing walk, songs

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested for allegedly spitting, yelling anti-Asian racial slurs at a mother and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

Victoria police is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying this suspect after they allegedly robbed a Douglas Street bank on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Police seek identity of suspect who alllegedly robbed Victoria bank

Officers were called to a bank in the 1000-block of Douglas Street just after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday

Victoria police said Wednesday that they continue to look for Belinda Ann Cameron, who was last seen on May 5, 2005. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police still looking for Belinda Cameron who was last seen 16 years ago

Cameron was reported missing on June 4, 2005, and her case is deemed suspicious

Colwood-based writer Esi Edugyan will speak about the deep research she did before writing <em>Washington Black</em>, her third novel. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood author Esi Edugyan giving talk May 6 about her research and writing process

Event is part of Royal Road’s Changemaker series celebrating its 25th anniversary

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Island man sentenced in Nanaimo after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, of Nanoose Bay, given six-month sentence

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Most Read