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Delta Regional Heritage Fair
Indigenous Fishing Practices and Rights
Indigenous Fishing Practices and Rights is about the fishing rights of Indigenous people. Indigenous people are the natives of Intuit, Metis and the First Nations. Fishing is a source of food in the old ages. My projects describes the Status vs non Status Indians, Indigenous fishing methods, rights and policies, fishing licences, commercial fishery and fishing history. Fishing developed when Homo Sapiens came between 40,000 and 10,000 BCE. Along the line, Indigenous fishing had a lot of improvements in this field. There was a lot of changes occurred during these centuries such as there has always been a tension between non-Indigenous and Indigenous fishers now days, but Indigenous fishing practices has a special status under the Canadian law. They have been going through a lot of court cases regards to their license, jurisdiction or fishing methods they had used. Overall, fishing was/is the First Nation's tradition. Also, Fishing is a culture for the Indigenous people and British Columbia is known for the oldest fishing culture.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?
Indigenous fishing was started even before the earlier settler moved on this land. There are many lawsuits against Indigenous people. They can only fish in their treaty area. They always notify their community chief and have a license to fish for non-status Indians. There were many types of licences such as status and non status, communal, etc. Many Indian agents denied entering fishery because of canneries. There was a limit for hunting a specie of fish. Bag limits were given to fishermen who trapped several species. The Government can ban indigenous people, but it is rare. For example, Ron Sparrow who had net longer than the specified length, and Dorothy Van Der Peet who got arrested for selling 10 fish under the food fishing license. Commercial fishery has more priority than indigenous fishing.
What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?
I want Canadians to know about Indigenous people fishing practices and their fishing rights. Fishing rights are unique for Indigenous people. Their fishing practices are based on their rights because they can fish only what is written in their treaty act such as where, when, why, how and what species they can fish. Originally, Native people were fishing for food. Fishing was the main source of food in past centuries. Fishing is a culture for the Indigenous people. My topic is connected to history of fishing in BC, so I learned that, how our original settlers struggled for their rights and food time to time. Also, fishing practices have been around for so many years like fishers were existed around 10,000 BCE and so do they today. Fishing is a culture for the Indigenous people. Indigenous people should need a license if they are non-status Indian. Metis also have special requirement if they need to fish. Indigenous people must be fishing for food, but not for sale. They must be fishing in designated area with designated tools. If they miss the guidelines, they get fine or punishments. Fishing permits are also required for some indigenous communities for different seasons. The fishers from our past have used various tools such as their hands, spears, nets, line/rod, etc. All the methods are listed under section 95. Also, many tools and methods got banned by the government such as the gill net. In fishing, there were different tools to fish and different tools to harvest food.
How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?
I think that the settlers had struggled a lot in past for even food. Now days, we have more techniques for fishing methods. As well, there is a lot of fishing aspects have changed presently such as legal, social and economic aspects related to fishing.