‘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)

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.

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

Just Posted

Check out a new future at career and education fair in Comox

Event today features booths from more than 40 employers and educational institutions

North Island College’s pop-up restaurant returns to The Park in Comox

North Island College tourism and hospitality students are joining forces with chef… Continue reading

Cumberland council shows support for decriminalization of drugs

Council responded to a recent request from Comox Valley couple who lost son

Comox Valley wheelchair sports all about inclusion

By Jamie Bowman Special to The Record When occupational therapist Carolyn Harmatiuk… Continue reading

All Carlton Cards stores closing in the coming weeks

Schurman Retail Group stores across North America will close, including 79 in Canada

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Comox Valley Beefs & Bouquets for the week of Jan. 21

Bouquets to and from the Adopt-a-Grandparent program; beef to people setting off fireworks

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Most Read