‘Drastic and scary’: Salmon declines prompt First Nation to take Canada to court over fish farms

In an unprecedented move, the Dzawada’enuzw nation is claiming in court that farming Atlantic salmon — which often carry disease — in their traditional waters constitutes a violation of Aboriginal rights

A salmon fish farm operates off the coast of the Broughton Archipelago near Vancouver Island. MYCHAYLO PRYSTUPA /THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Moon and other members of his community were in Vancouver Thursday to file an Aboriginal rights lawsuit against Canada that challenges federal fish farm licenses within their traditional territory in the Broughton Archipelago — the latest action in the nation’s escalating bid to revive shrinking Pacific salmon and eulachon stocks.

If successful, the lawsuit would not only close fish farms that affect the Dzawada’enuxw nation but could potentially be used by other First Nations to shut down salmon farms throughout B.C.’s coast, according to lawyer Jack Woodward, who is representing the Dzawada’enuxw [pronounced ‘tsa-wa-tay-nook’]. MORE

 

United Nations instructs Canada to suspend Site C dam construction over Indigenous rights violations

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The world’s foremost racial discrimination committee says Canada must work with Indigenous communities to find an alternative to the $10.7 billion hydro project in B.C.

In a rare rebuke, the United Nations has instructed Canada to suspend construction of the Site C dam on B.C.’s Peace River until the project obtains the “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous peoples.

Canada has until April 8 to report back to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination outlining steps it has taken to halt construction of the hydro project, which would flood 128 kilometres of the Peace River and its tributaries in the heart of Treaty 8 traditional territory. MORE

 

UNDRIP Implementation and use: It’s complicated

“We don’t have access to a court system to judge Canada at the UN, but we can embarrass Canada.” —Russ Diabo


Russell Diabo is an expert in legislation and strategies used by Canada to colonize First Nations

….A lot of grassroots Indigenous people wonder why Indigenous Nations don’t take Canada to the world court for breaches in dealings and wrong-doings against them, said Diabo. But the world court just doesn’t function as an option in that way.

Under the United Nations’ system, Canada could only be brought to the world court by another State party, he said. And there are no nations clamouring to bring Canada up on charges. Indigenous peoples themselves have little standing at the UN, because they are not member States.

Diabo also made an important distinction off the get-go. UNDRIP is a declaration not a covenant (or convention). A covenant of the UN is a legally-binding treaty, which once ratified requires the parties to adjust their domestic laws to comply with international obligations. A declaration is not legally binding. A declaration is meant to be inspirational in its intent. And, in fact, the Canadian government has described UNDRIP as aspirational. MORE