Roughly 20 North Island Secondary School (NISS) students in Port McNeill peacefully walked out of class today in a show of solidarity with the ‘Namgis and Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw fish farm occupations at Midsummer Island and Swanson Island in the Broughton Archipelago.
“People keep talking about fighting for our future. We are actually going to fight for it. We are the future. Wild salmon are our future,” said Gwantilakw Cranmer, a grade twelve student, via press release.
Ernest Alfred, who’s been occupying Swanson Island since late August, stated in an interview with the Gazette he is excited that the students “are taking it upon themselves to protest peacefully — they’ve signed a letter that they want delivered to the Prime Minister and Premier John Horgan.”
After leaving class at 10:00 a.m., a student read the letter the group had signed to NISS Principal Jay Dixon and then handed it to him.
Dixon thanked the students for sharing their beliefs through the protest, and he stated if there were any more students who wanted to sign their names to the letter, “then deliver it to me and I will pass it on.”
The students marched through the rain with their signs held high to the Alert Bay ferry terminal, traveling over to Swanson Island afterwards.
The students called the action “Walk Out For Wild Salmon”.
“Why would anyone do something to hurt our wild salmon? Why is the government taking so long to protect our future? It should be simple. Just tell the fish farms to go away,” wrote Gwimolas Cranmer, a grade eight student.
The student’s press release stated the fish farms at Swanson Island, Midsummer Island, and Port Elizabeth are operated by the Norwegian company Marine Harvest, and have been occupied by hereditary leaders and community members of the ‘Namgis and Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw since Aug. 24.
Premier John Horgan and a number of Provincial Cabinet Ministers travelled to Alert Bay on Oct. 10 to attend a meeting with eight united First Nations, including over forty hereditary chiefs, who are allied against the fish farm operations.