‘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

Missed a week of news? We’ve got you covered

Every Saturday, we post popular stories from the week

Long-time Hedley fan weighs in on concert

Davis Wiggs attended Hedley’s final show last night

Kelowna couple hoping for a miracle

Endang Suslash is hoping to stay in Canada so she continue receiving treatment for kidney failure

Highway potholes under ministry jurisdiction

The District of Lake Country doesn’t touch the highway when it comes to filling potholes

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in Kelowna before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Prospera Place

Bottle drive held for Kelowna fire victim’s family

Springfield Elementary held a bottle drive today to support the Van Gool family

B.C. umpire has developed thick skin after 30 years listening to insults

Scott McLaren pays no mind to comments from the cheap seats

Musicians Sarah Harmer, Grimes join B.C. anti-pipeline protests

Musicians are in Vancouver for the Juno Awards on Sunday night

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Snowfall warning for Highway 3

Kelowna - A snowfall warning is in effect from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read