Lawsuit launched: Matsqui First Nation claims fishing losses

Matsqui First Nation in Abbotsford announced this week that it has filed a lawsuit in British Columbia Supreme Court, challenging decisions by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to restrict its access to salmon on the Fraser River.

Matsqui First Nation in Abbotsford announced this week that it has filed a lawsuit in British Columbia Supreme Court, challenging decisions by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to restrict its access to salmon on the Fraser River.

The incidents occurred during the 2010 fishing season, when DFO, on several occasions, failed to allow Matsqui First Nation members to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes, said Chief Alice McKay.

Matsqui First Nation has chosen not to enter into agreements with DFO to secure access to salmon for commercial purposes, choosing instead to utilize salmon for food for its members, most of whom rely on salmon as their primary source of food.

McKay said DFO’s decision to prevent the Matsqui First Nation from fishing in traditional territory has had a significant impact on the community, with members running out of fish to feed their families, and salmon being unavailable for important community and cultural events.

“This case is not about those who have made the choice to sell their fish,” said Brenda Morgan, Matsqui First Nation fisheries representative. “We simply want DFO to respect the choice we have made to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes.”

She said the court action seeks recognition of Matsqui First Nation’s right to fish within its traditional fishing grounds, and damages to account for the fish that it was denied.