Today a meeting is scheduled between T'aaq-wiihak representatives and Canada's new Minister of Fisheries Jonathan Wilkinson. (Government of Canada photo)
This week brings a series of high-profile meetings for T’aaq-wiihak, as representatives advocated for Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights before federal ministers and members of Parliament.
On Monday, Nov. 12 in Nanaimo Francis Frank, lead negotiator for the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, presented before MP Ken Hardie, a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. This standing committee is composed of 11 MPs, who study and report on matters concerning Ottawa’s role in managing fisheries and “the safeguarding of its waters,” according to the Parliament of Canada. The full committee plans to come to B.C. for a meeting in the new year.
This is an ongoing concern for the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations tied to the T’aaq-wiihak fisheries, as they await an appeal of the Justification Trial decision from last April on the scope of their Aboriginal right to harvest and sell fish from their territories. The case is set to be heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal Feb. 11-15.
Frank expected to have four to five minutes to present his concerns to the standing committee, said T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries Manager Saul Milne.
“What’s been going on has not necessarily been meeting the rhetoric that we’ve been hearing from the federal government about rights and reconciliation,” he said.
Then today T’aaq-wiihak representatives plan to meet with Canada’s Minister of Fisheries Jonathan Wilkinson in Vancouver. Milne said T’aaq-wiihak wants to stress to the new minister what was previously pledged by his predecessor, Dominic LeBlanc, who agreed to work with the nations on their needs.
“Leblanc had previously come to an agreement with the nations that he would champion the committee process and the term sheet that the nations developed last fall,” said Milne. “And so this meeting with the minister is to make sure that the new minister Wilkinson is aware of what the former minister Leblanc had committed to do and to also advocate for Wilkinson to champion this process through in Ottawa.”
At the meeting in Vancouver T’aaq-wiihak expects to hear what allocations DFO will be considering for next year.
“We do expect DFO to provide another round of access for the nations,” said Milne. “There will be a series of fisheries plans that DFO will also develop.”