Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, BC – The First Nations Leadership Council met this week with officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the RCMP in anticipation of tomorrow’s opening of the First Nations economic fishery on the Lower Fraser River.
The meetings were arranged to ensure safety on the water in event of protest by non-aboriginal fishers. The basis of the relationship between First Nations and the RCMP/DFO is contained in the Interaction and Safety Protocol which was signed to ensure that “the 2006/2007 Aboriginal fishing opportunities take place in a safe and orderly fashion”. The relationship is also reflected in The Public Safety Cooperation Protocol between the First Nations Leadership Council and the RCMP signed in October of 2005 which is "intended to build trust and reciprocal relations between the Parties in a proactive effort to prevent situations involving conflict situations and community crisis, alternatively, resolving disputes at the earliest possible opportunity".
In the BC Court of Appeal ruling in R v. Kapp (June 2006), the Court unanimously agreed that the Pilot Sales Program is not an “exclusive” or “separate” fishery based on “race”. The Court concluded that the Pilot Sales Program is not discriminatory, and represents a legitimate policy decision for allocation of the resource, well within the discretion of the Minister of Fisheries.
The Leadership Council, RCMP and DFO agree that all necessary precautions and steps must be taken to ensure that the safety of all participants in the fishery is maintained throughout the opening.
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The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the First Nations Summit, Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the BC Assembly of First Nations. The Council works together to politically represent the interests of First Nations in British Columbia and develop strategies and actions to bring about significant and substantive changes to government policy that will benefit all First Nations in British Columbia.
For more information:
Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC, (250) 490-5314
Colin Braker, First Nations Summit, (604) 926-9903
Rhonda Sim, BC Assembly of First Nations, (604) 922-7733