First Nations’ food rights trump highway drivers

I am disturbed and disappointed by your editorial “Spill highlights Malahat reliance” (Our View, April 22). While one understands the frustration of thousands of drivers unable to use the Malahat for almost 24 hours, the real story is one of massive pollution of the Goldstream River when a Columbia Fuels tanker spilled 42,000 litres of gasoline and 650 litres of diesel into the river. The enormous fish kill, as well as birds and animals using the river is disastrous because it is estimated the cleanup will take 15 to 20 years.

Five First Nations communities, numbering more than 3,000 people of the Tsartlip, Tsawout, Pauquachin, Tseycum and Malahat, depend on that fishery for much of their food, as well as  continuation of their culture and spiritual sustenance. Most importantly, in the 1850s these First People signed a Treaty with Governor James Douglas that they were “at liberty to hunt over the unoccupied lands, and to carry on our fisheries as formerly.” Not much unoccupied lands exist for their hunting now, which means the fishery is even more vital for these people and their children. They are devastated. Rather a more important item for an editorial than driver frustration.

Mavis M. Gillie

Oak Bay

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