‘Protect wild salmon’: Protesters light sacred fire at B.C. legislature

About 200 people gathered in Victoria Thursday, protesting fish farms

Kwakwaka’wakw nations and supporters stand against fish farms in their traditional territories during a demonstration on Lekwungen Territory at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Nov. 2, 2017. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Kwakwaka’wakw nations and supporters stand against fish farms in their traditional territories during a demonstration on Lekwungen Territory at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Nov. 2, 2017. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

Protesters opposed to salmon farms on Vancouver Island lit a ceremonial fire near the front steps of British Columbia’s legislature and called on the provincial and federal governments to protect wild salmon by getting rid of fish farms.

Hereditary Chief Ernest Alfred told about 200 people gathered outside the legislature Thursday the crackling fire represents his Indigenous ancestors.

“We want to thank you for observing the sacred fire,” he said. “It’s important because it’s the sound of our ancestors.”

Alfred said Indigenous people are linked spiritually, socially and economically to B.C.’s salmon and the health and survival of their stocks is paramount.

The traditional leader has been part of ongoing protests and temporary occupations of several long-term Atlantic salmon fish farms located near Alert Bay, just off northern Vancouver Island. The protesters, including Alfred, want the salmon farms operated by Marine Harvest Canada, shut down.

READ MORE: B.C. minister warned salmon farm not to restock

Chief Willie Moon of Kingcome Inlet told the placard-waving protesters salmon farms have been in his territories for 30 years and he’s seen drastic declines in wild salmon stocks.

“I’m worried about our homeland for our people,” he said. “Within the next two years if we don’t get these fish farms out of our territory we’re not going to have salmon.”

Jeremy Dunn of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association said the industry shares the concerns of Indigenous people and others about once abundant salmon stocks, but the farmers aren’t taking the blame for declines in wild salmon.

“I can understand the concern people have over salmon stocks they expect to be more abundant that aren’t,” he said. “I feel for their concern in this area as does everyone that lives on the coast.”

Dunn said there are 109 salmon farms in B.C. waters. He said the salmon farming industry employees 6,600 people and generates about $1.5 billion annually.

Premier John Horgan said salmon farming has been underway in B.C. since the 1980s and it’s an issue that cannot be resolved quickly. But he said the sustainability of wild salmon is one B.C.’s and his highest priorities.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

Most Read