B.C. First Nation files lawsuit to evict fish farms from territorial waters
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy
Published Saturday, January 12, 2019 10:00PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, January 12, 2019 10:06PM EST
In B.C.’s remote Kingcome Inlet, the Dzawada'enuxw First Nation is fighting to remove all fish farms from their traditional territory -- farms that they say they never approved.
To evict the 10 area fish farms, the Dzawada'enuxw have launched a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that Ottawa failed to consult with them when allowing fish farming in the region.
“Our membership said zero tolerance,” Chief Willie Moon, the elected and hereditary leader of the Dzawada'enuxw, said at a Jan. 10 press conference in Vancouver. “Get those fish farms out of the water!”
The Dzawada'enuxw believe that the farms threaten wild salmon by exposing them to parasites and potentially deadly viruses.
Jack Woodward is the lawyer representing the Dzawada'enuxw in the lawsuit. He previously represented B.C.’s Tsilhqot'in Nation in the first ever successful claim of Aboriginal title in 2014.
“The federal government knew when it authorized these licenses, it knew about the Aboriginal rights of the First Nations,” he said at the Vancouver press conference. “And yet they went ahead and issued them.”
Federal officials have said that they are aware of the Dzawada'enuxw’s concerns but cannot directly comment on the lawsuit. A federal court, meanwhile, has decided to fast-track the legal challenge.
The Dzawada'enuxw’s legal action comes as tensions are rising between First Nations groups and the federal government.
At a town hall meeting in Kamloops, B.C. earlier this week, Indigenous leaders took aim at Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, demanding answers about reconciliation and the rights of First Nations. And after 14 people were arrested at an anti-pipeline blockade in the Wet'suwet'en First Nationin B.C.’s central interior, demonstrations were held in more than 30 cities across Canada -- protests that continued Saturday in downtown Vancouver.