The ‘Namgis, Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations and the Province of British Columbia have executed a letter of understanding (LOU), formalizing ongoing talks regarding salmon aquaculture in the Broughton Area.
The parties have agreed to engage in a respectful government-to-government process, to reach agreement related to historical concerns related to these outstanding tenures.
“We are pleased to continue to work with British Columbia in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP),” said Bob Chamberlin, Elected Chief Councillor of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation. “We have never consented to the presence of these fish farms in our territories. We look forward to a process that respects the need for our consent going forward.”
“Our government entered talks with the ‘Namgis, Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations in January 2018, with a view to resolving long-standing concerns held by the Nations about fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “This is an important step in recognizing how we must work respectfully with Indigenous peoples to protect wild salmon.”
The government-to-government process acknowledges the environmental impacts of the fish farms, as well as their impacts on the Aboriginal title and rights of the First Nations. The process will identify short-, medium- and long-term actions, and provide consensus recommendations to the First Nations and the Government of British Columbia. British Columbia and the First Nations will hear from the fish farm industry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other stakeholders, as part of the process.
“We are aligned in our goal of protecting wild salmon, but now there is much work to do,” said Don Svanvik, Chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation. “We look forward to working with British Columbia in the spirit of respect and co-operation confirmed in the UNDRIP.”
The Chiefs from each of the three First Nations have signed the LOU. Three ministers of the Province have signed the LOU: Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture; and Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
The LOU takes effect immediately. The First Nations and British Columbia have begun the work necessary to implement the government-to-government process, and have 90 days to develop consensus recommendations.