(B.C. government)

(B.C. government)

Horgan chastising feds for Discovery Islands fish farm decision ‘ironic’: First Nation chief

Wei Wai Kum says province ignored request for Broughton-like-process long before federal involvement

B.C. Premier John Horgan’s criticism of the federal government’s handling the Discovery Islands fish farm consultation is ironic, says Chris Roberts, chief of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.

Especially because three of the consulted First Nations had urged the provincial government to table a Broughton-like-process for them before the federal government got involved in the Discovery Islands. But the province did not heed their request, claims Roberts.

Last week Horgan said that the federal government made the decision to phase out 19 Discovery Islands fish farms by 2022 without consulting B.C. or industry members.

READ MORE: B.C. wasn’t consulted on shutting more salmon farms, Horgan says

The premier contrasted the “unilateral” decision made by fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan with his own provincial government’s handling of the fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago on the B.C. south coast.

The premier also told the media last week that the federal government failed in its reconciliation process under the principles of UNDRIP which the province adopted as legislation in 2019, with its Declaration and Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

In 2018, through the “Broughton process,” the province tabled a consultation with Indigenous communities and the aquaculture industry before arriving at a plan to gradually phase out 17 open-net pens in the Broughton Archipelago by 2023.

The plan allowed seven of the 17 sites to continue operations if the operators could reach agreement with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, ‘Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations, after scientific monitoring of the impact of parasite and disease transmission between farms and migrating salmon.

READ MORE: B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

According to Roberts, Wei Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations had courted the provincial government two years ago to conduct a Broughton-like process for them even before the federal government turned the spotlight on Discovery Islands.

The three nations wanted to table a process with the province that could resonate with the Broughton Process and also the freshly adopted DRIPA legislation in 2019.

“We told them we’ll sit down in a process and start with finfish aquaculture since it aligned with their license renewal conditions,” he said and added that the nations thought that the particular subject would resonate with the province since they already worked on the Broughton model.

And it was not just about the fish farms at that time, but a whole bunch of different decisions with regards to their territories that the three First Nations wanted to discuss with the province.

They were “excited” and looking forward to this “novel idea” of establishing a collaborative governance and shared decision making framework with B.C.

But according to Roberts, the “door was shut without an explanation to us as to why.” He calls this the province’s “missed opportunity.”

“So, I don’t know what the premier is trying to achieve with the statement that they (feds) got it (Discovery Islands decision) wrong. Why didn’t they take us up on this offer we put together to solve this problem like the Broughton model?”

Moving forward with the federal decision, there’s still work left to be done , said Roberts. He is hoping that the province – true to its commitment to DRIPA – will invest in the work that the First Nation is doing with habitat restoration and salmon enhancement projects in the future.

In an email statement, the premier’s office told the Mirror that while siting and stocking of aquaculture operations falls under federal jurisdiction, the province stepped up in the face of growing tensions in the Broughton Archipelago to initiate a process to bring the federal government to the table with Indigenous leadership, industry operators and others to find solutions that work for all parties.

“This process created a pathway for federal government to replicate, given their lead responsibility for aquaculture, to deal with other issues, like the concerns in the Discovery Islands,” read the statement.

The premier’s office also said that through the Broughton process, the provincial government has shown that better outcomes are found when “we’re all at the table working together.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a response from B.C. Premier John Horgan’s office

First NationsFish Farms

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

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

The Alzheimer Society of BC is hosting a number of webinars next month to help people prepare for financial and healthcare needs. (Contributed photo)
Alzheimer Society invites White Rock residents to series of educational webinars

Planning Ahead: Do it Now! webinar to be held March 10

South Surrey’s Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann – the Bergmann Piano Duo – will present another colorful Surrey Civic Theatres Digital Stage concert., premiering online March 11. Contributed photo
South Surrey pianists Bergmann Duo blend musical colours

Rhapsody In Blue meets The Red Violin in online concert

St. John Ambulance is looking for financial support in its bid to install 1,000 publicly accessible AED devices throughout British Columbia. The stands which hold the defibrillator also contain naloxone and first aid kits. Cost to equip and install each stand is around $8,000. (stock photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

First of two defibrillators planned for Crescent Beach already in place

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Lorne Ginther

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Most Read