(B.C. government)

(B.C. government)

Horgan chastising feds for Discovery Islands fish farm decision ‘ironic’: First Nation chief

Wei Wai Kum says province ignored request for Broughton-like-process long before federal involvement

B.C. Premier John Horgan’s criticism of the federal government’s handling the Discovery Islands fish farm consultation is ironic, says Chris Roberts, chief of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.

Especially because three of the consulted First Nations had urged the provincial government to table a Broughton-like-process for them before the federal government got involved in the Discovery Islands. But the province did not heed their request, claims Roberts.

Last week Horgan said that the federal government made the decision to phase out 19 Discovery Islands fish farms by 2022 without consulting B.C. or industry members.

READ MORE: B.C. wasn’t consulted on shutting more salmon farms, Horgan says

The premier contrasted the “unilateral” decision made by fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan with his own provincial government’s handling of the fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago on the B.C. south coast.

The premier also told the media last week that the federal government failed in its reconciliation process under the principles of UNDRIP which the province adopted as legislation in 2019, with its Declaration and Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

In 2018, through the “Broughton process,” the province tabled a consultation with Indigenous communities and the aquaculture industry before arriving at a plan to gradually phase out 17 open-net pens in the Broughton Archipelago by 2023.

The plan allowed seven of the 17 sites to continue operations if the operators could reach agreement with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, ‘Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations, after scientific monitoring of the impact of parasite and disease transmission between farms and migrating salmon.

READ MORE: B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

According to Roberts, Wei Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations had courted the provincial government two years ago to conduct a Broughton-like process for them even before the federal government turned the spotlight on Discovery Islands.

The three nations wanted to table a process with the province that could resonate with the Broughton Process and also the freshly adopted DRIPA legislation in 2019.

“We told them we’ll sit down in a process and start with finfish aquaculture since it aligned with their license renewal conditions,” he said and added that the nations thought that the particular subject would resonate with the province since they already worked on the Broughton model.

And it was not just about the fish farms at that time, but a whole bunch of different decisions with regards to their territories that the three First Nations wanted to discuss with the province.

They were “excited” and looking forward to this “novel idea” of establishing a collaborative governance and shared decision making framework with B.C.

But according to Roberts, the “door was shut without an explanation to us as to why.” He calls this the province’s “missed opportunity.”

“So, I don’t know what the premier is trying to achieve with the statement that they (feds) got it (Discovery Islands decision) wrong. Why didn’t they take us up on this offer we put together to solve this problem like the Broughton model?”

Moving forward with the federal decision, there’s still work left to be done , said Roberts. He is hoping that the province – true to its commitment to DRIPA – will invest in the work that the First Nation is doing with habitat restoration and salmon enhancement projects in the future.

In an email statement, the premier’s office told the Mirror that while siting and stocking of aquaculture operations falls under federal jurisdiction, the province stepped up in the face of growing tensions in the Broughton Archipelago to initiate a process to bring the federal government to the table with Indigenous leadership, industry operators and others to find solutions that work for all parties.

“This process created a pathway for federal government to replicate, given their lead responsibility for aquaculture, to deal with other issues, like the concerns in the Discovery Islands,” read the statement.

The premier’s office also said that through the Broughton process, the provincial government has shown that better outcomes are found when “we’re all at the table working together.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a response from B.C. Premier John Horgan’s office

First NationsFish Farms

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Mount Brenton Golf Course unveils its board of directors for 2021-22. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Fritsch elected president of Mount Brenton Golf Course board of directors

Annual general meeting conducted by Zoom for the first time

Municipality of North Cowichan.
North Cowichan receives community resiliency fire smart funding

More effective wildfire protection regulations will be implemented

Municipality of North Cowichan.
North Cowichan thinking collaboratively on provincial funding

Contract for outfall relocation awarded pending City of Duncan approval

Chemainus Communities In Bloom.
Signs of spring are closing in around us

Chemainus Communities In Bloom provides gardening tips for March 2021

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read