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

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

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Eliot Kinsey runs T3ch For the People at Ladysmith Secondary. (Jennifer Fink photo)
High school student joins program to improve access to technology

By George Brockhurst, LSS Student Writer As the world moves forward, people… Continue reading

Lymphedema is often treated with medical devices such as compression garments, pneumatic compression pumps, or specialized custom wraps and bandages. (Submitted photo)
March 6 marks World Lymphedema Day

Lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system, and afflictings millions worldwide

Work has begun on the Downtown Public Washroom on 1st Avenue. (Submitted photo)
Work has begun on the Ladysmith Downtown Public Washroom

The project is expected to be finished in the spring

An architectural rendering of the five storey condo building at 201/203 Dogwood Drive. (BJK Architecture photo)
Five storey condo building proposal at Dalby’s proceeds to public hearing stage

Frank and Mike Crucil of FMC Holdings are hoping to turn Dalby’s Automotive into a five storey condo

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read