BC government extends formal discussions with First Nations in Broughton Archipelago

The extension will be another 60 days expected to end in late November or early December.

  • Sep. 28, 2018 11:18 a.m.

HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO Premier John Horgan meets with the ‘Namgis First Nation at their big house in Alert Bay summer of 2017.

Progress was made on aquaculture discussions, but a 60-day extension was given for more constructive dialogue between the BC government and three First Nations.

BC government has agreed to extend formalized talks on aquaculture tenures with ‘Namgis, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations. The province stated that there was “significant progress this summer” on the aquaculture tenures.

The BC government has established a Broughton Steering Committee that will handle the formal discussions on a day-to-day basis with representatives from each party.

The original mandate came out of a Letter of Understanding with the three nations last June, which agreed to reach a consensus on recommendations within a 90-day period. These aquaculture recommendations will then also be passed on to the federal government.

Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham said that “the participants at the Broughton Table have been working hard, tackling difficult issues and making progress. It’s necessary that they have the time they need to conclude this important process.”

‘Namgis First Nation’s is in the middle of a lawsuit against Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Marine Harvest and in a parallel case Alexandra Morton, an activist against fish farms, has also sued DFO. The nation is hoping to change regulations when transferring farmed fish, which would mean ensuring aquaculture companies test for disease agents before transfers.

The original mandate from the letter of understanding signed by all parties in June 2018, set out a 90-day period, which ended Sept. 27, to develop consensus recommendations. These discussions were expected to produce actions on salmon farming in the Broughton Archipelago.

Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis’s elected chief Bob Chamberlin said that “while we want this work to happen quickly, we must take the time to do it right.” He added that “we are united in our commitment to ensure the protection of our wild salmon and believe that this government-to-government process will allow us to accomplish that goal.”

The extension will be another 60 days expected to end in late November or early December. The North Island Gazette is currently waiting on a response from ‘Namgis First Nation.