‘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

Fundraiser for teenager hit by car in Rosedale

Teen suffering multiple fractures and blood clots following incident on Yale Road

Vedder River cleanup nets bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Hikers alert after woman approached by suspicious man in Harrison Mills

The woman and her family were hiking in the wetlands between Rowena’s Inn and Sts’ailes First Nation

Chilliwack International Spring Film Series returns to Cottonwood 4 Cinemas

Put a spring in your step with the Chilliwack International Spring Film Series’ feature titles

EDITORIAL: No think-tank report cards for the Observer

Fraser Institute’s annual school ranking isn’t a good measure of success, editor Grace Kennedy writes

Film crews descend on Agassiz for ‘Republic of Sarah’

Pioneer Avenue will be closed to traffic Monday and Tuesday

Harbour Air to convert to all-electric seaplanes

Seaplane company to modify fleet with a 750-horsepower electric motor

VIDEO: Teenage girl was person killed in three-vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Police are investigating the fatal crash at Mariner Way and Riverview Crescent

Sailings cancelled after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

5 to start your day

Fatal crash in Coquitlam, stranger climbs onto balcony and lights fire, and more

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Vancouver Island home to B.C.’s luckiest lotto store

Five million-dollar winners have bought tickets from same Port Alberni corner store

Video of ‘shocking, chilling execution’ opens B.C. murder hearing

Sentencing underway for Brandon Woody after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in Nanaimo

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Most Read