The recent charges against a local First Nations man, Robert Gladstone, for taking one salmon out the Fraser River illustrates the deep problems that the DFO and the Crown have in regard to fulfilling their constitutional obligations towards indigenous peoples.
In this case, it is very clear that DFO has unacceptable breach of the Crown’s duties towards aboriginal peoples. In fact, the Supreme Court of Canada stated in R. vs. Van der Pret that the Sto:lo have a right for ceremonial use of salmon as an integral and distinctive part of their culture. Non-commercial aboriginal uses come ahead of sports fishing.
By allowing a sport fishery on the lower Fraser River while restricting indigenous non-commercial use, DFO has broken both common law and the Constitution Act. I highly suspect the Sparrow Test was not followed.
As someone who is concerned about human rights, it is deeply disappointing that the Liberal government is backing away from its commitments to “recognize aboriginal governments as full partners in the federation, and will work with Indigenous Peoples to create fairness and equality of opportunity in Canada” as well as “recognize the urgent need for a renewed nation-to-nation relationship between the federal government and Indigenous Peoples.”
I seriously hope the Sto:lo are considering legal action against the Crown.