Canada’s AFN chief urges commercial fishing rights

A spokesman for the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa is calling on Canada to act on the federal government’s commitment to rights recognition, saying it is time to fully support the right of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations to commercially fish.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said on Oct. 19 that Canada should change its position in commercially sell fish in their traditional territories.

“Canada has an opportunity to take real steps toward reconciliation by engaging in an accountable and collaborative process with all First Nation fisheries to achieve full implementation of their Aboriginal rights to fish and sell fish in their territories” Bellegarde said, during a media conference with Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations.

“I will continue to support the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations in the exercise of their rights which have already been recognized by the courts and are further protected by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Bellegarde said that after more than seven years of attempted negotiations to implement their aboriginal right to fish commercially, the five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations are still without an agreement or reasonable offer from the federal government to allow their communities to exercise their rights and participate in the fisheries in their territories.

On Sept. 23, the Ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) put an end to a meeting with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans representatives and asked that they only come back when Canada develops a mandate to implement their rights-based fisheries.

The ha’houlthee (chiefly territories) of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations stretches along approximately 300 kilometers of the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island, from Brooks Peninsula in the north to Point-no-Point in the south, and includes inland regions.

More information about the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is online at