Andrea Reid, fourth from left, with salmon science camp participants from the Nisg̱a’a village of Gingolx in 2018. (Photo submitted by Andrew Stewart/LJI)

Andrea Reid, fourth from left, with salmon science camp participants from the Nisg̱a’a village of Gingolx in 2018. (Photo submitted by Andrew Stewart/LJI)

New UBC Indigenous fisheries centre aims to uplift community rights

One of the centre’s first initiatives, that will continue through 2021, is a multimedia project called Fish Outlaws

By Cara McKenna, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

A Nisg̱a’a scholar at the head of a new centre at the University of British Columbia is working to bring attention to the ongoing criminalization of Indigenous fisheries.

Scientist Andrea Reid is the principal investigator at the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries, which launched in January.

The centre’s director says the project — based out of UBC’s larger Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries — has been years in the making.

“The Centre for Indigenous Fisheries is really positioned around community-based work and bringing Indigenous communities in as full partners around the research process,” she says.

“The work … is really about responding to community needs. Our first projects are based around ideas of the nations .125we’ve consulted with.375.”

One of the centre’s first initiatives, that will continue through 2021, is a multimedia project called Fish Outlaws, documenting the criminalization and dispossession of Indigenous fisheries around the Salish Sea.

The National Geographic Society has given a grant to four of its designated “National Geographic Explorers” — Reid, conservation scientist Lauren Eckert, documentarian Amy Romer, and Lummi writer Rena Priest — to work with nations to record the issue and imagine a fairer future.

“We’re bringing together all of our passions on this project,” Reid says.

“We hope to be building an interactive and multimedia website that brings together the main outputs of all of our skill sets.”

The four women will do archival research and consult with communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border to build their website, which will share stories, essential histories, and community visions for justice.

“We’re really trying to create space for youth in this process, so we’re currently identifying some key youth who are engaged in stewardship in their communities and want to get more exposure,” Reid says.

“What we’ll be doing is having them participate in our interviews and be there alongside us.”

Reid says they’re also looking to hear from people in West Coast communities who have stories to share about fishery-related injustices.

The effort is inspired in part by the recent high-profile violence that erupted on the East Coast, where non-Indigenous commercial fishers began attacking treaty-protected Mi’kmaq lobster harvesters, their catches and equipment.

In B.C., First Nations fishers have been charged for holding their first salmon ceremonies, or arrested after being hounded to sell fish by undercover fisheries officers, and tensions have generally been high between Indigenous and commercial fishers over demand for increasingly limited seafood stocks.

“In many cases there are individuals who have been fined … for exercising what ought to be constitutionally-protected fishing rights,” Reid says.

“We really want to explore these topics here (and) we’re aware of these parallels that are broader.”

Other projects on the horizon for the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries include research partnerships with several First Nations in the Lower Fraser region, and hiring on another faculty member.

Fisheries historian Dianne Newell, interim director of the centre, says this launch has been a longtime coming.

Newell has been working at UBC since the 1980s, and says though there has been interest in more Indigenous-focused research on fisheries in the Faculty of Science, things haven’t aligned in the right way until now.

Newell was key in forming a committee that eventually pitched the idea of an Indigenous fisheries centre to UBC.

“When I was putting together our physical proposal, I did a lot of research, I went all over campus,” she says.

“I was very fortunate that everyone was so supportive of this idea.”

Newell says after years of work in the faculty and consulting with communities, “the stars aligned” when they were able to recruit Reid.

“She’s unstoppable in terms of reaching out to communities. She sees that as her need as well as her obligation,” Newell says.

“People will really respond to her. She’s also walking into an environment that’s already started to change.”

Currently, Reid is the only Indigenous-identifying person in UBC’s Faculty of Science.

She is a citizen of Nisg̱a’a Nation in northwestern B.C., but grew up on the opposite coast on Prince Edward Island.

Her work with Indigenous fisheries has brought her around the world, but eventually brought her back home, where she’s been able to contribute research, connect with relatives and ultimately be a part of something she says was started by her ancestors.

“.125It’s been.375 a pathway to reconnect to a part of my heritage that I didn’t get to grow up with,” she says. “It was a path home for me.”

Her experience has led her to want to create space for Indigenous students at UBC, as they work on their own projects that will allow them to connect with culture and their own home territories.

“That’s going to be a major focus for me moving forward is their training and their mentorship,” she says.

“We need to cultivate a more positive environment where students aren’t asked to leave a part of themselves at the door.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

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

Just Posted

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

LETTER: Anti-semitism definition lacking

Re: We must identify anti-Semitism and combat it (Online, Feb. 26) I… Continue reading

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read