First Nation says 2-year renewal is simply ‘virtue signalling,’ asserts authority to make own decisions in its territory

Two Indigenous peoples in British Columbia on Monday reiterated their intention to pursue sustainable aquaculture on their own terms, following the Canadian Government’s decision to extend salmon farming licences outside of the Discovery Islands to a limited two-year term.

The Gwa’sala and the ‘Nakwaxda’xw peoples – known collectively as the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nation (GNN) – say the two-year renewal is too short a time frame to justify the significant investment in innovation technology that Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray has indicated is necessary to address her concerns about wild-and-farmed-salmon interaction.

They say the two-year renewal is simply “virtue signalling;” and that it is “disappointing” and “fails to consider (the) Nation’s rights, their economic stability, and the government’s own reconciliation agenda.”

Along with fellow members of the Coalition for First Nations for Finfish Stewardship, they were pushing for the licences to be renewed for a minimum of five-year term in order to give companies incentive to stay and invest in BC’s infrastructure.

“The Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation is firm: we have authority to make decisions across our own traditional territory, as do other Nations,” says Chief Terry Walkus on Monday, June 27. “Ottawa’s decision tells us it is more concerned about virtue-signalling than actually seeking reconciliation with Indigenous Nations.”

Government recognition
The Nation would like to see the Canadian government recognize their “co-jurisdictional authority and support our visions of what aquaculture could be.”

GNN is invoking their rights and traditional protocols as they create a new standard for aquaculture industry operations that exceeds the current federal regulation.

“Already the Nation has been monitoring its farms with greater presence and oversight than the government has had in place for the last 30 years,” continues Walkus.

“The term ‘transition’ refers to technological change, but GNN also believes transition should refer to social innovation and recognition for a new governance as well.”


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