Ahousaht Tyee Ha'wilth Maquinna Lewis George
After more than three years of “fruitless” and “frustrating” negotiations with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maquinna Lewis George, Tyee Ha’wilth of Ahousaht First Nation, has said that’s it. Enough is enough.
“Ahousaht fishermen will be on the water fishing as of April 15.”
The statement was made today at the Council of Ha’wiih meeting, a gathering of hereditary Nuu-chah-nulth chiefs, hosted through the Uu-a-thluk Fisheries Department of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Fisheries and Oceans representatives were in attendance.
Ahousaht is one of five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations in negotiations with DFO after the BC Supreme Court affirmed in 2009 that the nations have a right to fish and sell fish of all species (excluding geoduck) into the commercial market.
Justice Nicole Garson ordered Canada to negotiate access to the fisheries, but after three years and four months, little progress has been made, said Maquinna.
Ahousaht people are suffering, Maquinna said through speakers John Webster and Harold Little using their traditional language. High unemployment in First Nations communities is bringing the frustration to a head.
In keeping with Ahousaht tradition, Maquinna and the other Ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) of the nation stood together to deliver the announcement, and as they spoke, the other Nuu-chah-nulth Nation Ha’wiih came to stand with Ahousaht in support.
Ahousaht has submitted a fisheries plan to Fisheries and Oceans and will be implementing that plan as of April 15.
Media who wish to speak with Ahousaht representatives on this issue may contact Ahousaht Chief Councillor Curtis Dick at 250-670-9563, or Ha’wilth Kiista Keith Atleo at 250-731-6157.
Or search DFO, Uu-a-thluk or fisheries for lots more reading.