The plight of British Columbia’s wild salmon was the focus of a low-key rally held in downtown Vancouver in solidarity with the widespread Idle No More movement.
Several people gathered outside the regional Fisheries and Oceans Canada headquarters at Burrard Street and Pender Street for the demonstration around noon today (December 9).
The Idle No More native-rights movement has highlighted criticism of recently passed federal legislation that critics fear will reduce environmental protections for waterways.
At today’s rally, First Nations speakers used a microphone and amplifier to express concerns about the situation of wild salmon. Some also sang and beat a native drum.
Musqueam activist Henry Charles emphasized how sacred local waterways are to First Nations people.
“As a child I used to walk along the mouth of the Fraser River and watch the salmon jump,” he told the rally. “Now you walk along the mouth of the Fraser River and they don’t jump anymore. They’re gone.”
Coast Salish activist Kat Norris said: “This is one of the many, many hundreds if not thousands of topics that are really important to indigenous people as well.”
“What a lot of society doesn’t realize is the issue of salmon affects all people across what’s now called Canada.”
Protesters also voiced opposition to the oil tankers being allowed in B.C. coastal waters. Some held up a banner that read: “No Tankers in the Great Bear.”
Further Idle No More actions are planned in Vancouver this Friday, including a rally at City Hall at 1 p.m.
The planned demonstration is part of a wider “day of action” that coincides with a scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders.