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

Captain Dziadyk to end season with Oceanside Generals on high note

Qualicum Beach player is longest-serving player in team history

Petition underway to stop bylaw on homeless camping in Regional District of Nanaimo

‘Canadians are known for their meekness but this time we need to have a voice’

Qualicum Beach approves Pheasant Glen zoning amendment

Majority of residents who spoke at public hearing endorsed proposed amendment bylaw

Centre withdraws from cell tower project in Qualicum Beach

TELUS plans to continue to look at plans to improve cellphone reception in the area

Qualicum Beach council voices support for Ballenas track upgrade

Town still not ready to provide dollar amount without further information

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

BC Senior Curling titles to be decided in Vernon

Wes Craig, Penny Shantz looking for fifth championships; Steve Wright, Donna Mychaluk into finals

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read