Aboriginal Relations Committee Chairs:
- Interim Co-Chair
BC Treaty Commission – The independent body responsible for facilitating treaty negotiations among the governments of Canada, BC and First Nations in BC. The Treaty Commission's primary role is to oversee the negotiation process to make sure that the parties are being effective and making progress in negotiations. For an update on the BC treaty negotiations process, click here.
September 16, 2015
Blockade Protocols: What to do
With the hunting season upon us, the BCWF recognizes that there may be many folks out in the bush and on the roads. Below is a link to a PDF file for instructions on what to do if you find yourself at a blockade.
Blockade Protocol: What do Do
September 3, 2014
Tahltan Nation Blockade and Gitxsan Nation "Eviction Notice"
In the wake of the recent William decision in the Supreme Court of Canada, First Nations groups – including the Gitxsan and Tahltan Nations in central and northern B.C – have moved to assert claims in several areas.
Below you will find updates on both of these current situations as well as important information on how to approach a blockade should you come across one.
Tahltan Nation Blockade: Hwy 51 Between Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek
Members of the Tahltan Nation in northwest B.C. recently set up a blockade on Highway 51 between Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek in order to limit moose hunting by resident hunters in their territory. According to Chief Terri Brown, the local moose population is under considerable strain from resident hunters.
While BCWF does not agree with the Tahltan’s assessment that there is a conservation problem with the local moose population, we do agree that our province needs to do more to manage and protect B.C.’s fish, wildlife, and habitat. This is an ongoing issue that our organization has been bringing up in our meetings with government for quite some time. BCWF officials hope to work with the Tahltan Nation in the near future to resolve this situation and come together to look for solutions so that resident hunters can continue to access the area.
The BCWF is also asking government to explain why they have allowed public roads to be blockaded, and will seek remedies from the province to prevent blockades from occurring again in the future.
BCWF Members will no doubt be familiar with similar roadblocks in the past that have sought to block the public from accessing Crown lands. As always, we would like to encourage our members to act responsibly and conduct themselves in a peaceful manner when encountering a roadblock – read on for some great tips and advice on the best way to do that.
Province of B.C. Update on the Tahltan Blockade
The Province of B.C. issued an update on the Tahltan Blockade on Tuesday, August 26th:
“Members of the Tahltan Nation have established a blockade on Highway 51 between Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek and government has been advised that resident hunters may be stopped at the blockade.
Hunters planning to use Highway 51 are advised as follows:
Government has initiated discussions with the Tahltan and is working to determine their specific concerns. We ask everyone to remain respectful of one another on the ground while we seek a resolution to the situation.
The Province considers the licences of guides, resident hunters and non-resident hunters to be valid. There is the possibility that resident hunters in Tahltan Traditional Territory may encounter protests.
All British Columbians have a constitutional right to peaceful protest and to express their point of view in a safe and legal way.
Hunters seeking direction on what to do if they encounter a protest, or who wish to report any confrontation should contact the local RCMP detachment.”
Gitxsan Eviction Notice
On August 8th, the Gitxsan Nation issued an “eviction notice” to sport fishers, CN Rail, and the forestry industry, indicating that the move was “supported by the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that the Crown must obtain consent and preserve the interests of the Gitxsan before carrying on any activities on Gitxsan lax yip, 33,000 sq km of territory in northwestern British Columbia.”
Negotiations between the Province of B.C. and the Gitxsan are ongoing and are proceeding in a positive manner, with the group extending an earlier suspension of the eviction notice for anglers to September 16th to allow more time for talks. BCWF has also met with the Gitxsan recently in order to discuss ways we can work together on common issues, and those discussions continue.
The Gitxsan have expressed a willingness to arrange a meeting between BCWF and the Tahltan to talk about important issues related to land use and B.C.’s fish, wildlife, and habitat.
Useful Information Should You Encounter a Blockade
The following information details appropriate ways to deal with a roadblock should you encounter one:
Make “be prepared” your new motto this hunting season. Do some research on the area so that you know about any current issues or situations. Keep writing materials and a camera in your vehicle at all times so that you are prepared to document any encounters and before you leave the paved highway, make sure you have these materials at hand and ready.
If the Blockade Encountered is Unattended
Should you encounter an unattended roadblock, document it thoroughly with photos and written notes. Be sure to carefully assess the situation before proceeding and if you do not feel comfortable, do not drive on or proceed. Always practice safety first.
If the Blockade Encountered is Attended
When encountering a manned blockade, the first rule is to always be cautious. Record the date, time, and detailed location (GPS coordinates are best) of the blockade and do not get out of your vehicle or roll your window all of the way down. Ask for the spokesperson for the blockade, and ensure that only one member of your group speaks with him or her.
Following are a number of questions that should be asked in a respectful manner (do not forget to have someone in your group record the answers):
May I please get your name?
Do you represent a specific group?
How long have you been here, and how long do you intend on staying?
What will happen to us if we choose to continue to our destination?
Listen carefully to the answers provided, and if anything is said that could be construed as a threat, be ensure to record it or write it down “word for word”. Document the encounter while your memory is fresh, and be sure to stick to the facts - there is no need for derogatory or insulting language, which will only take away from your account and reflect poorly on your character. Be as neutral as possible in your observations.
If possible, opt for recording events with a video camera over still photos if you are unable to manage both. The person recording the events should not be the same person that has been designated as spokesperson for your group. Keep everything you record, write down, or photograph – do not allow anyone to confiscate your material, even the police. Offer to provide a copy, but make sure you retain the originals yourself.
Important details to note about the blockade include:
The number of protesters present at the blockade
Physical descriptions of the protestors including clothing, hair colour, height and weight, approximate ages, and any identifying characteristics.
Descriptions and license plate numbers of any vehicles present.
Please note that it is perfectly legal to photograph or record people in a public place, even if you are on a private road. The protesters may take their own photos and video and if they are recording the proceedings themselves, chances are they will not be a major problem for you.
If You are Able to Get Through the Blockade
If you do pass through a blockade and set up camp, record any other hunter presence or protestor traffic. If you feel your camp may be at risk, leave someone there to watch over it while you are gone. Be respectful and follow the guidelines above for any further contact with protestors, and always remember to keep safety first.
How to Report if You are Blockaded
Anyone who has been refused entry to Crown land should immediately report the matter to the police and the Conservation Officer Service. In the event that you or your property is threatened, be sure to ask that criminal charges are laid and request that an investigation of the incident take place. It is important to remember that a threat is only “criminal” if there is a threat of death, bodily harm, or of damage to your property. The threat must be direct in order to be considered a criminal act. For example, someone telling you they will “burn down your camp” if you proceed is making a criminal threat.
On the other hand, being told something along the lines of “we can’t guarantee that you won’t be visited at night” is not a direct threat and falls into the category of innuendo. It is important to record the exact words so that you can relay the conversation to the authorities. When reporting an incident to the police or CO Service, ask for an occurrence or police file number and record the name of the officer that you spoke with.
Dialogue with First Nations
In addition to providing BCWF Members with advice for encountering roadblocks, our organization is also working to engage in dialogue with First Nations groups so that we can work together to maintain each other’s needs and opportunities in an environment of mutual respect. Our purpose is to foster enjoyment for all British Columbians that hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors.
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