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

Suspicious van report leads police to issue important reminders

Police received a report about a suspicious white van driving slowly around Comox.

Sheila McDonnell elected chair of Comox Valley Schools board

Sheila McDonnell was elected chair of the Comox Valley Schools board of… Continue reading

Comox council briefs: Guthrie Road development gets greenlight, new bylaw dispute adjudications system adopted

The Town of Comox has given the green light to a 42-unit townhouse development on Guthrie Road.

Zeballos old landfill to close mostly by 2023: CSWM engineer

Waste will be transferred to a newly engineered facility in Cumberland

Advisory committee helps to mitigate challenges in Courtenay neighbourhood

A community advisory committee is helping to foster a peaceful co-existence in… Continue reading

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

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

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Most Read