"British Columbia First Nation" ?
So, in response to one of our favorite forum member comments I decided to find out just what First Nations (TFN) was doing for the protection and conservation of the BC salmon fishery. While I could not find much of anything being done in the form of protection, conservation, or restoration, I did find some interesting insights and facts regarding their current agenda. You might find this of interest?
Do you know what is really transpiring? They have established a "First Nations Fishery Council" This appeared to be a good thing initially; in that TFN is building an organization similar to that of our " Nortwest Indian Fisheries Commission, at least one would think? But, as you read through their website, there are parts that is really starting to get scary! http://www.fnfisheriescouncil.ca/
Here is a quote right from their first newsletter of September 2008, which is called the "September Communiqué", "This is an important time for First Nations in British Columbia. Once again, we are facing threats that put at risk our ability to access our traditional fisheries for the sustenance and well-being of our communities. The Council has been working with communities over the last six months to help improve communications and to build the infrastructure and capacity of First Nations in B.C. to respond to the challenges we face."
Now if one goes into their, "The B.C. First Nations Fisheries Action Plan". Here is the introduction:
"Fisheries in British Columbia are in a period of transition as a result of increasing demands and pressures on the resource and shifts in government policy to try to respond to these and other issues. This includes First Nations seeking increasing shares in the fishery and greater involvement in management and decision-making, pursuant to their Aboriginal title and rights, and treaty rights. However, First Nations in BC have lacked a strong, collective vision and strategy to achieve progress on these goals, and to address the wide range of other regional and provincial fisheries issues. As a result, First Nations often find themselves reacting to issues that arise from government decisions on policy, legislation and programs, as well as actions and decisions taken by the commercial, sport and recreational fishing sectors or others.
In 2004, the First Nation Panel on Fisheries, co-commissioned by the BC Aboriginal Fisheries Commission and the First Nations Summit, released “Our Place at the Table – First Nations in the BC Fishery”. This report outlined a vision, goals and principles for changes in management and allocation in the BC fishery, based on hearings in First Nation communities around the province and over 50 submissions.
On October 4-6 and November 29, 2006, BC First Nations gathered together to build upon this previous work and to commence a broad dialogue about common fisheries issues. This BC First Nations Fisheries Action Plan is a result of those Forums. It provides First Nations with a solid foundation for future action; however, it is only a starting point. Further work and discussion is required to create a BC First Nations Fisheries Council, which will engage with First Nations in implementing a detailed workplan based on the actions set out in this document."
Oh, and it gets better as you read farther, and I quote, "A parallel First Nation Panel on Fisheries was commissioned to ensure that a First Nations perspective was advanced on how to manage and allocate the Pacific fishery. The First Nation Panel on Fisheries proposed a vision, goals and principles for future management and allocation approaches through the lens of recognizing and respecting Aboriginal rights and title and treaty rights. Its recommendations included:
• immediate steps to ensure adequate First Nation access to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes,
• immediate transfer of a minimum of 50% of all fisheries to First Nations,
• steps by First Nations to resolve intertribal allocations which would encourage them to work together on management of migratory stocks,
• recognition of First Nations management rights and flexible management systems that accommodate the interests of First Nations, and
• a moratorium on further individual quota regimes until First Nation allocations are resolved."
Now the "GRAND FINALE", look at their goals, and I again quote, " First Nations in BC have established the following seven goals for the Pacific fishery:
1. That we have healthy ecosystems that are resilient to change.
2. That, within the limits of healthy ecosystems and species, First Nations have the ability to use species and habitat to nourish their people for food, social, spiritual, educational and ceremonial purposes.
3. That within the limits of healthy ecosystems and species (and once the second goal is achieved), that First Nations have the ability to generate enough economic wealth from a diversity of resources and uses so that families and communities are healthy.
4. That within the limits of healthy ecosystems and species (and once the second goal is achieved), that First Nations have the ability to share their resources and wealth with respectful neighbours and guests, and that this sharing is reciprocated.
5. That First Nations, federal and provincial governments jointly manage aquatic species and ecosystems, and that those involved in the use and enjoyment of aquatic species and ecosystems have the responsibility and ability to meaningfully contribute and share their knowledge, experience, and energy towards achieving the above goals.
6. That First Nations, federal and provincial governments, with the help of others, ensure aquatic species and ecosystem users and managers are held accountable if they are not respectful of the above goals.
7. That there is a high degree of certainty that we can continue to achieve these goals over time.
So, in the end - at least I can say, we in the U.S wrote, agreed to, and signed OUR treaties. The language in the U.S. treaties and the B.C. treaties are different, but it does not appear First Nations really cares about that? While I could not find much of anything TFN is doing in the form of conservation, it does appear to me while First Nations priority is not to conserve, but rather it is to take the entire fishery, completely. It is starting to sound that British Columbia will be changing its name to "British Columbia First Nation", at least if they have anything to say about it?
This information comes directly from their website at: http://www.fnfisheriescouncil.ca/
Just so you know there is a difference in the wording of the treaties:
The treaty signed by your bands state: "It is understood, however, that the land itself, with these small exceptions, becomes the entire property of the white people forever; it is also understood that we are at liberty to hunt over the unoccupied lands, and to carry on our fisheries as formerly."
The treaty "our" tribes signed state: "The right of taking fish, at all usual and accustomed grounds and stations, is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the Territory."
To interpret this article of these treaties, United States District Court Judge Boldt looked at the minutes of the treaty negotiations to determine the meaning of "in common with" as the United States described it to the Tribes, and determined that the United States intended for there to be an equal sharing of the fish resource between the Tribes and the settlers.
Your treaties DO NOT state "in common with all citizens of the Territory", rather it states ,"and to carry on fisheries as formerly"… there is a difference there, just in case you missed it!
Good luck in the Supreme Court, because it appears that is where you are headed!