(Coast Salish Territory, BC – March 13, 2018) – BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee supports the ‘Namgis First Nation for their leadership in standing up for wild salmon. “Wild salmon is a fundamental food source for all First Nations in British Columbia. Salmon are a vital component for all aspects of ecosystem health, and protecting wild salmon is critical issue that is important to all First Nations and British Columbians”, noted Regional Chief Teegee.
On Tuesday, March 6, ‘Namgis filed a Notice of Application in Federal Court seeking a judicial review of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ policy not to test farmed Atlantic salmon for the blood virus, piscine reo-virus (PRV), prior to transferring smolts from Marine Harvest Canada Inc.’s hatcheries into the open-net pen fish farm in ‘Namgis territory. Then, on March 9, ‘Namgis First Nation filed a motion for an interlocutory injunction to prevent the Minister from issuing a license to transfer the smolts into Marine Harvest’s open net pens without first testing for the blood virus, PRV, pending resolution of the judicial review.
Today, the ‘Namgis First Nation is before the federal court to confirm a date for a hearing for an injunction hearing to prevent the Minister from issuing a license to transfer fish into the Swanson Island fish farm. For months ‘Namgis have been requesting a meeting with Fisheries and Ocean Canada to discuss their grave concerns about irreversible damage that open-net fish farm operations but no response has been received to the numerous letters they have written.
“The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada needs to know that this is becoming a regional issue. This is not just about the ‘Namgis First Nation. Many First Nations up and down the coast have opposed open-net fish farms for decades. The Minister has ignored those concerns”, said Regional Chief Teegee. “This is an unfortunate example where the Federal Government has not lived up to their commitment to the 10 Principles of Reconciliation articulated by the Prime Minister to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or the honour of the Crown. It is unfortunate that ‘Namgis has to go to court to enforce its rights and protect wild salmon. This government promised to move beyond that way of dealing with First Nations.”
The BC Assembly of First Nations urges all First Nations and concerned citizens to let the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Minister Leblanc, that the ongoing disregard for the rights of First Nations people, the law and the health of wild salmon is no longer acceptable. Regional Chief Teegee is also the Co-Chair of the AFN National Fisheries Committee (NFC), and will be discussing this and other fisheries issues at the next NFC meeting with Chiefs from across Canada.
For further information, contact:
Regional Chief Terry Teegee
BC Assembly of First Nations