Alert Bay resident Eli Cranmer drums for the protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province.(Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Alert Bay resident Eli Cranmer drums for the protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province.(Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Protest hits Horgan’s office in Langford

Residents from across the Island are standing up against fish farms

Protesters with signs, banners and cardboard salmon in hand demonstrated outside of Premier John Horgan’s office in Langford Friday.

Fish Farms Out Now, an ad hoc civil society group led by indigenous elders and leaders, was joined by supporters in a peaceful protest against fish farms in B.C. waters.

“First Nations people have been protesting against these floating mortuaries that are spewing their pathogens into the marine environment and after 30 years are destroying, are decimating, are wiping out the indigenous salmon stock, which are the food supply of indigenous communities on this coast,” said Victoria resident Bobby Arbess. “It is time that we all stand up and demand from this new government that action be taken immediately.”

In a statement the group noted demonstrations were being “held in solidarity with the occupations of Marine Harvest’s fish farms on Swanson and Midsummer islands within the traditional territories of the Musgamagw (including Dzawada’enuxw, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Gwawaenuk), ‘Namgis and Mamalilkala First Nations, where First Nations leaders have peacefully occupied open-net salmon farms for the last 50 days.”

Their demands include no restocking of existing empty pens or sites, no use of hydrogen peroxide to be used to treat sea lice infestations, no renewal of licenses and/or tenures, and for the industry to remove all open-net cage fish farm sites from the collective territorial waters.

Protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Fish Farms Out Now is calling for the provincial government “to honour its election promise to remove open-net fish farms — a request which First Nations in the area have repeatedly asked of government for the past 30 years.”

While in opposition, B.C. NDP politicians campaigned against the net-pen industry and led a committee that recommended B.C.’s North Coast be kept off limits to them.

Roughly 20 protesters gathered outside of Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road to kickoff Friday’s protest.

“The salmon is sacred,” said Alert Bay resident Dawna Ambers. “If we lose the salmon we lose a big part of our culture … I look in my freezer and there’s no salmon there anymore, it’s just an empty freezer.”

RELATED: John Horgan wades back into salmon farms

Ambers, whose given name is Tsastilqualus, added “it’s so, so bad for our people … Stop the permits now and get the cesspool out of our waters.”

Protesters referenced another event earlier in the week where Horgan met with First Nations in Alert Bay who are protesting open-pen fish farms, stating Horgan failed to release a significant statement against fish farms after that event.

Horgan was also accompanied by Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, the MLA for North Island. Rachel Blaney, MP for North Island-Powell River also attended the event, which was held on Oct. 10.

While Horgan did not commit to removing the fish farms in Alert Bay, he instead announced Popham would be meeting with the federal Minister for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, “to tell Mr. Leblanc what she has heard here today and what the commitment is of our government, which is first and foremost to protect wild salmon.”

RELATED: Protest hits office of Saanich MLA Lana Popham

Horgan also said he was “prepared to meet again in Victoria with a delegation of your choosing so we can talk about next steps.”

No one appeared to be in the Langford office Friday during the protest – a note taped to the door indicated the office was closed while staff were out for meetings and would reopen later in the afternoon.

The Premier could not be reached for comment but in a statement, Popham said “the B.C. government respects the right of people to engage in peaceful protests. As always, we ask people to remain respectful of one another and encourage the resolution of issues through discussion wherever possible.”

She reiterated that she was at the event on Oct. 10 to listen and appreciated the invitation. “I hear and understand the concerns being raised by First Nations and members of the public and I have been proactive in meeting with my federal counterparts regarding the importance and urgency of this issue. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the industry now generates nearly $800 million in annual value, while supporting numerous jobs in rural and coastal areas.”

Popham added, “I am committed to continuing to work with First Nations, the aquaculture industry, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to ensure B.C.’s aquaculture sector is environmentally sustainable and respects First Nations’ rights while continuing to provide good jobs for British Columbians.”

With files from Hanna Petersen/Black Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

John HorganLangford

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Protesters gathered outside of Premier John Horgan’s office on Jacklin Road in Langford Friday afternoon to stand against fish farms in the province. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

Just Posted

A man was issued a $230 fine after refusing to wear a mask inside a Central Saanich business. (Central Saanich Police Services/Twitter)
Man issued fine after refusing to mask up in Central Saanich business

$230 ticket issued under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

Aragon Properties’ proposed development for the corner of Cook and Pendergast streets in Cook Street Village was voted down by Victoria city council on Thursday night after a public hearing. (File contributed/ City of Victoria)
Lack of affordable housing spells end for Cook Street Village project in Victoria

Council narrowly defeats proposal for four-storey building on former Pic-A-Flic Video site

A report by investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond found “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in a report released Monday.
Peninsula hospital one where ‘significant work underway’ to repair Indigenous relations

Investigation finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’ in provincial health care

(Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Second driver facing impaired charges after View Royal traffic stop leads to loaded firearms

West Shore RCMP stop swerving motorist and Saanich woman who came to pick her up

Victoria police issued tickets to two Victoria party hosts Saturday night, according to VicPD Chief Del Manak. (Unsplash)
Victoria partiers hid in closets, bedrooms in an attempt to avoid fines

Police gave out COVID-19 tickets to two separate parties

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Fatty Legs co-author responds to Abbotsford class assignment on residential schools

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Most Read