A Sto:lo salmon ceremony on Tzeachten land in Chilliwack in 2014.

A Sto:lo salmon ceremony on Tzeachten land in Chilliwack in 2014.

One salmon taken from the river by Chilliwack chief leads to ‘sacrilegious’ charges by DFO

Protest planned at Chilliwack Law Courts for May 10 court appearance of Shxwha:y Village Chief Robert Gladstone

Imagine, if you will, uniformed officers entering a Catholic church to arrest a priest for giving communion.

A frightening and sacrilegious act not to be tolerated.

Yet that’s the way outspoken local Sto:lo leader Ernie Crey compares what federal fisheries officers did to Shxwha:y Village Chief Robert Gladstone a year ago when they charged him for taking a single salmon from the Fraser River for ceremonial purposes.

“We only needed one spring salmon for the ceremony,” Crey told the Times about the incident that sees Gladstone in court in Chilliwack next Tuesday.

“I’m trying to make people understand what the DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceeans] did in charging Robert. This is how grievous what they did to us is.”

The incident took place in March of 2015. That’s when Gladstone said DFO would not authorize a Pilalt ceremonial fishery. Pilalt is a group of local Fraser River First Nations bands.

The First Salmon Ceremony is traditional among local Sto:lo bands to honour the fish that are sacred to the people, and to usher in the return of the salmon to the Fraser.

Issues over commercial and First Nations fishing on the Fraser River have endured for decades and battles have raged over allowable catches, who gets to fish when and where, not to mention dwindling returns. Yet DFO frequently gives licences for what are known as food social and ceremonial (FSC) fisheries on the river. So the refusal of last spring’s permit is troubling and confusing, particularly because fish, as always, were coming out of water to the west where sport anglers already enjoyed their pastime.

“Fraser River chinook salmon at that time of the year were being caught out in the marine waters in sport and, I think, commercial fisheries,” Crey said. “Fish bound for the Fraser River.

“We only wanted to catch one fish.”

Robert Stanley Alexander Gladstone faces one charge of contravening Fisheries Act or regulations under it. His first appearance on the charge in connection with the incident from March 26, 2015 was Jan. 5, 2016. He is scheduled to be arraigned on May 10.

An increasingly growing group is banding together to protest on the steps of the Chilliwack Law Courts for Gladstone’s May 10 court appearance.

A number of Sto:lo Grand Chiefs have confirmed their attendance and dozens of other band members and supporters are expected.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Once a star player with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, Kayli Sartori is moving into a new role coaching the next generation of Cascades. (UFV photo)
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori goes from court to coach with UFV basketball Cascades

Sartori is taking a new path as part of the U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching program

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Sarah De Klein and her family have created a team – one of many – for the Move4Communitas fitness challenge and fundraiser. (Submitted photo)
Communitas in Abbotsford holds virtual fitness challenge

Move4Communitas started March 1 and runs for 8 weeks

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

Surrey RCMP are investigating a “serious” collision near Cloverdale Saturday evening. (Curtis Kreklau photo)
Man dead after single vehicle collision in Surrey; speed possible factor

Police say vehicle collided with telephone pole at approximately 9:30 p.m.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

Most Read