“We again call on Canada to prove that it is serious about recognizing and respecting our Aboriginal right to fish and sell fish,” said Cliff Atleo, lead negotiator and Councilor of the Ahousaht Nation, in response to Prime Minister Trudeau’s speech in the House on February 14. “This government continues to talk a lot about a new relationship with Indigenous people and respecting our Aboriginal rights, but we are still waiting for this government to actually do something that is meaningful to our Ha’wiih and fishers.”

“As a sign of good faith, today our five Nations have written to the Minister of Justice asking her to instruct Department of Justice lawyers to drop one of Canada’s offensive and aggressive legal positions that seeks to redefine and diminish our Aboriginal Right to fish and sell fish,” added Francis Frank, lead negotiator for the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation. “If Canada, as the Prime Minister stated yesterday, is serious about recognizing and implementing Indigenous rights, then Canada can’t at the same time be arguing in court a position designed to reduce our right to fish and sell to something that is meaningless and belittles our fishing culture.”

“We have asked our Member of Parliament, MP Gord Johns, to hand-deliver our letter to the Minister of Justice today so that she can act on this sign of good faith before it is too late,” said Richard Lucas, Hesquiaht Chief Councilor and lead negotiator. “We are tired of hearing this government just saying good things to our Nations. It is well past time for this government to take immediate steps to implement our fishing rights, as we have been demanding for the past eight years.

Our Nations thank Gord Johns, our Member of Parliament, for asking the government today in Question Period, ‘when will this government stop seeking to redefine and diminish the right of our five Nations?’  This is the same question we have been asking government since the original trial decision in 2009.  Perhaps at long last the Prime Minister and government are prepared to act on their verbal commitments to our First Nations.”

T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries