Rose Henry (left) is joined by a fellow activist and Bobby Arbess (right) as the group voices opposition to fish farms on unceded traditional territories during Canada Day celebrations at the B.C. legislature, Sunday. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Fish farm protestors in Victoria use Canada Day event to voice opposition

“We’re here to today to draw attention to the responsibility the federal government has to make true reconciliation happen.”

This story has been updated from its original version.

Protestors peacefully voicing their opposition to fish farms in British Columbia crashed Canada Day celebrations on the legislature lawn in Victoria, Sunday.

As thousands of people donned in red and white assembled to take the city’s annual living flag photo, roughly twenty activists took the opportunity to spread their message, sitting before the large audience, chanting.

“We’re not here just to blindly celebrate,” said Bobby Arbess, a Victoria resident and settler Canadian.

“We are in the era of post-truth and reconciliation and we need to think very seriously about how the economic conditions in this country continue to oppress and dispossess Indigenous peoples,” he said, pointing to the 30-year history of fish farms on unceded traditional territories.

“This is a form of genocide,” he added, calling fish farms the decimation of the food staple of the coastal Indigenous peoples of B.C.

RELATED: Canada not properly managing fish farms, environment commissioner says

Activists say fish farms have proven to pollute the waters in which they operate, threatening native wild and sea life as well as producing unhealthy seafood and harming local fishing communities – many of whom are Indigenous.

Arbess said Canada Day was “a great opportunity” for people to reflect upon the true history of the nation “literally founded on the backs of Indigenous peoples.”

Rose Henry, a First Nations activist and educator originally from Tla’amin Nation said it is time to start looking at alternative fish farms like the one on her home territory, operating on land since the late ’70s. “We need to get the fish farms out of the ocean.”

Indigenous people living in poor health, or without basic necessities like hydro and clean water, or experiencing homelessness directly affects all Canadians, Henry pointed out, citing rising health care and homelessness costs.

RELATED: B.C. chefs call for end to open-net fish farms as province reviews renewals

“The struggle is real for many of us,” she said. “So many of us don’t live on reserves because there is almost a substandard life for people residing on the reserves.”

And, that has a rippling effect to the rest of Canada, stressed Henry, who said a peaceful protest at such a popular Canada Day event was a way to bring more awareness to the issues.

“A lot of these people don’t know what is really happening,” she said. “That is what is great about living here on this land – we still have the freedom to voice our opinions.”

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria Police looking for rightful owner of abandoned toolbox

VicPD found a toolbox full of tools on the side of a downtown Victoria street

CRD commission votes against alternate Malahat route through watershed

Commission voted unanimously after several speakers at meeting

B.C. budget will have ‘very little impact’ on poverty, advocates say

New Child Opportunity Benefit and income assistance increases are too small for a large effect

Live like a tourist but save like a local this weekend in Greater Victoria

Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown event is back Feb. 22 to 24 and March 1 to 3

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Wife remembers B.C. man killed in possible case of mistaken identity

Rex Gill was in Kamloops working to support his family after oilfield job dried up

Early morning shooting in Courtenay

Reporter at taped-off scene outside apartment complex

One dead, two seriously injured in Hwy 4 crash west of Port Alberni

A man has died following a single-vehicle collision west of Port Alberni… Continue reading

New report calls for regulated heroin sales to curb B.C.’s overdose problem

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Millennial men least likely to have a family doctor: Statistics Canada

Report found more women have primary care physicians, compared with men

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

Most Read