Gord Johns, MP for Courtenay-Alberni, speaks at a T’aaq-wiihak media event in Vancouver following the release of the ‘Justification Trial’ decision, April 2018. Photo credit: Melody Charlie

Nuu-chah-nulth Nations urge government to fulfill Supreme Court decision on fishing rights

Nov. 3 marked the 10-year anniversary of Supreme Court decision

  • Nov. 5, 2019 10:30 a.m.

Five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations are urging the newly elected government to fulfill a 2009 B.C. Supreme Court decision on fishing rights.

Nov. 3 marked the 10-year anniversary of a decision that recognized the Aboriginal Right of the Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Ehattesaht, and Mowachaht/Muchalaht Nations to commercially fish in their territories. On Nov. 4, the five Nations sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, insisting on action from the newly elected government to implement and fulfill constitutional fishing rights.

“It should not take the Government of Canada 10 years to live up to a judgement of Canada’s high court. Why do they think they are above the law?” said Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) president, in a press release. “This means 10 years of lost revenue to our fisherman and a denial of our right to a commercial fishery. The federal government must not stall anymore and must move immediately to remedy this issue. ”

Despite the pivotal Supreme Court ruling in 2009, implementation of the ruling has been delayed and challenged by a series of unsuccessful attempts to appeal the decision by the federal government. The overall process has reportedly left Nuu-chah-nulth fishermen struggling.

“We should not have to fight for a way of life that our ancestors carried on for thousands of years,” said Wickaninnish, Clifford Atleo, lead negotiator for the Ahousaht First Nation, in a press release. “Past governments imposed small portions of our territory as reservations because we depended on the sea. Through government policies our people have been systematically forced off the waters.”

Gord Johns, newly-reelected Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni, said that the decision by successive governments to fight First Nations in court over rights already affirmed by the Supreme Court is a “betrayal” of the Nation-to-Nation relationship that must be the foundation of reconciliation.

“It is an unconscionable assault on the livelihood of First Nations fishers and on our regional economy,” he added.

The five Nations have stated that they are still willing to negotiate in order to move the process forward. The NTC will continue to support the five Nations, urging the government to implement the 2009 Supreme Court ruling.

“It is our intention to re-establish an independent way of life through sound management and harvesting methods. The government encourages successful economies and we intend to be a part of that,” said Atleo.

The letter dated Nov. 4, 2019 requested the following from the Prime Minister:

– Direct ministers and staff to conclude a reconciliation agreement with the five Nations by March of 2020 so that they can begin to implement expanded community fisheries in the 2020 fishing season.

– Direct ministers to meet with representatives of the five Nations as soon as possible so they can be briefed on the steps remaining to conclude an agreement with Canada.

– Recognize that agreement or no agreement, the five Nations require and are entitled to meaningful, economically viable fishing opportunities.

– Direct the Minister of Fisheries and DFO staff to revise specific policies and regulations to foster rather than impede community-based fisheries.

RELATED: B.C. First Nations get clarity on fishing rights from top court

RELATED: Appeal court upholds Nuu-chah-nulth right to catch and sell fish

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Chemainus family’s life turned upside down by leukemia diagnosis

Community support a key contributor in dealing with a difficult situation

Baby bear carving stolen from his family in Chemainus

Thief repeatedly kicked it and dislodged it from cement and rebar

Gas leak prompts mop-up response in Chemainus

Thorough check made of Croft Place before residents and business people return

Midget Cougars soar to victory after building huge early lead

Coach Arkell utilizes his bench players with the basketball game well in hand

Holiday Passport program attains unprecedented success

Draw winner vows to spend her $250 gift card on “beautiful things.”

VIDEO: As 106 reported dead from the coronavirus outbreak, countries look to evacuate citizens

Canada is warning its residents to not go to Hubei province at all

Earthquake on top of highway closure a wake up call for Island’s West Coast

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Taxi association asks B.C. Supreme Court to stop Uber, Lyft from operating

Petition alleges Passenger Transportation Board did not take taxis into account

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

Most Read