‘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.

Just Posted

Rossland library gets rave reviews on renovation

A lot of hard work led to this day, says a library board member

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Olympian Rhoda Wurtele visits Fernie; reveals secret to skiing at 97

Rhoda Wurtele and her identical twin sister Rhona represented Canada at the 1948 Olympics

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read