Musgamagw Unite in Response to Marine Harvest Breach


It’s the latest chapter in a long and increasingly heated battle between BC’s coastal First Nations and the Norwegian salmon farmers that operate in their waters. The Musgamagw-Tsawataineuk peoples of the Broughton Archipelago recently gathered in the village of Gwayasdums in response to a serious breach of protocol by Marine Harvest, the largest open net cage fish farm operator in the region. On June 27, the company made an unauthorized boat trip through the territory, using elders to gather valuable information about the history and cultural sites of the area – underhanded tactics that take place amidst a high-stakes legal battle between the aquaculture industry and these same First Nations. Hereditary and elected leaders, matriarchs and community members emerged from the meeting in Gwayasdums united, with renewed resolve to rid their territory of open net cage salmon farms.


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

7 thoughts on “Musgamagw Unite in Response to Marine Harvest Breach

  1. Dan, when I say “unconfirmed” I mean that in the political sense. This individual has been named a hereditary chief but has has yet to go through the protocols required to make that official – much like a “president-elect” prior to being sworn in and actually beginning their term of leadership. He also filed this affidavit within days of losing a fourth consecutive band election to Chief Bob Chamberlin. In any event, he does not speak for the community – something made abundantly clear at this recent meeting, which he chose not attend to defend his position…But the blame for these shenanigans belongs, as you note – and as Chief Bob Chamberlin told the community in this video – with Marine Harvest, not with community members being preyed upon by them and their failed attempts to divide and conquer.

  2. Very good Damien, thanks for the synopsis of the situation, I have a clearer picture of what has transpired here.

    So if one finds themselves un-able to manipulate an actual hereditary chief then an unconfirmed one will do…an action condoned, and most likely this idea cooked up by the lawyers or law firm representing Marine Harvest; that should play out in court well for them.

    It is not only the disease and the waste pollution with regard to these filthy farm fish, it is also the fact that to feed this species, a small sardine –like fish in Chile is caught and ground up into pellets. Now on the Chilean coast this fish is almost extinct. I believe it might be called the krill…..

    So not only do we kill off our naturally occurring salmon species here in BC in order to house and grow the un-naturally occurring Atlantics in open net pens, we also allow and assist in the killing of another naturally occurring species, in another country to feed them here.
    There is an awful lot wrong with this scenario, besides the obvious question;

    What the hell do we think we are doing?

  3. I have sent this video to a cousin of mine here in Norway who for many years has been working in the salmon vaccinating industry and has been many times somewhere on the borders between the USA and Canada.I dont know how much difference this will make but i am sending this to everybody i know on the nett with a hope that it will make a difference.A lady in Australia sent me the link to this page and many thanks to her as otherwise i might have missed it.I will be mentioning this on my radio show as soon as i get it set up again.Anyone seeing this messagethat wants to contact me can do so at and on Facebook as Dukelas and also Skype by facebook or email request.Thanks and thats all for now.

  4. It is absolutely shameful. The F.N. People are in constant battle, to save their food sources, all over this province, from the greed of our politicians.

    The Liberals greed, don’t give a damn about the wild salmon, being an important food source for the F.N. people.

    How dare they allow our famous wild salmon, to be desecrated by disease, for those dirty fish farms? As the F.N. say, the shrimp, prawns and clam beds, are also dying out.

    It’s bad enough, the acid in the ocean, is right up to BC’s shores. The acid is eating the shells, off the crustaceans.

    We have to clean up our act. Our oceans are dying. Those fish farms, are a stupidity we can’t afford. The F.N. people shouldn’t even have to fight, to be rid of the fish farms. That the feces and lice, from the fish farms, are killing the other forms of marine life…Should damned well be enough.

    Patience and peaceful, isn’t on our governments radar. Harper will FORCE the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty oil tankers, on the F.N. people as well. Harper will also, FORCE, oil wells drilled off BC’s coast as well.

    Enough is enough. The wild salmon must be saved.

  5. Dan, I didn’t really go into it in this film, but it’s important to note in response to your first comment that the company has already reached out to an unconfirmed hereditary chief of the Musgamagw to file an affidavit against his own people in an attempt to undermine the Judicial Review brought by the official leadership of these communities challenging the unlawful awarding of licenses to salmon farms in their territory without proper consultation and accommodation. That is the litigious context in which this boat ride occurred – so your question is a fair and pertinent one…I should also note that the Musgamagw leadership has taken appropriate legal action in response to this affadavit and are more determined than ever to pursue this Judicial Review – with renewed support from their people – confirmed at this recent meeting. Marine Harvest, more than ever, is playing in the dirty end of the pool now (pun intended). But they are up against a formidable, unified force.

  6. The BC Supreme Court a long time back ruled that tenants either renting or leasing have the same rights or lack thereof as squatters; the only difference being that renters pay for the right to use the property in advance.

    Depending upon how this use of traditional lands and waters are leased to this company, I believe that this First Nations group along would well be within their rights to seize this particular farm, close it down in order to protect their traditional lands using the justification defense.

    But again they are a peaceful people. 30 years of waiting is nothing to First Nations who have waited for more than 130 years for complete and full recognition of their traditional rights and lands.

    In the meantime, we continue, through our government and its nearsighted policies, to shame ourselves.

  7. I watched the video. A shameful act by the company; it will be interesting to see if ANY of the information gathered on those boat rides appears as evidence in the court proceedings. Contrary to the companies claims I believe it will.

    I have only lived part of my short life in BC since 1969. But I have come to learn that the First Nations here are a peaceful people that live a simple, soulful way of life, close to the land and sea.

    While this would make many of the elder’s naïve somewhat to the ways of the world today, I find myself, at mid-fifties, to be the same in certain circumstances.

    But this does not make them a stupid people. This group has watched patiently, 30 years for some type of relief while their traditional ocean food sources diminish or disappear.

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