Calm prevails on local waters
All remains peaceful on local waters despite an ongoing dispute between the federal government and the Stz’uminus band about fishing rights.
But Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott said that could change anytime.
Elliott confirmed Monday the band has taken no action to enforce the boating prohibition it announced for its traditional waters May 2.
But he said the band is watching all the fisheries in its territory and this issue is not going to go away. “We’re in it for the long haul,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to take action if DFO doesn’t do something. If that means blockading, we will definitely be out there to defend our resources.”
Elliott’s comments came after a private meeting held at the Stz’uminus Elders Centre where chiefs from up and down the coast expressed their full support for the Stz’uminus action.
Elliott met with David Bob of Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose), Chip Seymour of Cowichan, Wilbur Jack of Penelakut, John Wesley of Snuneymuxw and James Thomas of Halalt.
“We had to get together because we all share the same frustrations around management and creating economy for our people,” said Elliott.
“They wanted to show their support by coming today and letting us know the work we are doing is not going unnoticed. I think it was a very strong statement today that our neighbouring nations are as frustrated as we are. They made it pretty clear to Stz’uminus that they support us.”
“There’s a lot of support, and it’s even nations on the Mainland and nations in the north,” he added. “I think we’re all at a point that if we don’t support everyone, we’ll never move forward.”
Elliott said their key issues area desire for co-management of fisheries in their territories, and for economic opportunities that truly benefit their nation.
“If DFO isn’t going to have true consultation with First Nations communities, it puts us no closer to solving the issues within our territories, so the Stz’uminus First Nation will do what they need to do, with the support of the other First Nations,” said Elliott. “If we can’t get co-management, we need to protect our resources.”