Andrea Reid, fourth from left, with salmon science camp participants from the Nisg̱a’a village of Gingolx in 2018. (Photo submitted by Andrew Stewart/LJI)

Andrea Reid, fourth from left, with salmon science camp participants from the Nisg̱a’a village of Gingolx in 2018. (Photo submitted by Andrew Stewart/LJI)

New UBC Indigenous fisheries centre aims to uplift community rights

One of the centre’s first initiatives, that will continue through 2021, is a multimedia project called Fish Outlaws

By Cara McKenna, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse

A Nisg̱a’a scholar at the head of a new centre at the University of British Columbia is working to bring attention to the ongoing criminalization of Indigenous fisheries.

Scientist Andrea Reid is the principal investigator at the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries, which launched in January.

The centre’s director says the project — based out of UBC’s larger Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries — has been years in the making.

“The Centre for Indigenous Fisheries is really positioned around community-based work and bringing Indigenous communities in as full partners around the research process,” she says.

“The work … is really about responding to community needs. Our first projects are based around ideas of the nations .125we’ve consulted with.375.”

One of the centre’s first initiatives, that will continue through 2021, is a multimedia project called Fish Outlaws, documenting the criminalization and dispossession of Indigenous fisheries around the Salish Sea.

The National Geographic Society has given a grant to four of its designated “National Geographic Explorers” — Reid, conservation scientist Lauren Eckert, documentarian Amy Romer, and Lummi writer Rena Priest — to work with nations to record the issue and imagine a fairer future.

“We’re bringing together all of our passions on this project,” Reid says.

“We hope to be building an interactive and multimedia website that brings together the main outputs of all of our skill sets.”

The four women will do archival research and consult with communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border to build their website, which will share stories, essential histories, and community visions for justice.

“We’re really trying to create space for youth in this process, so we’re currently identifying some key youth who are engaged in stewardship in their communities and want to get more exposure,” Reid says.

“What we’ll be doing is having them participate in our interviews and be there alongside us.”

Reid says they’re also looking to hear from people in West Coast communities who have stories to share about fishery-related injustices.

The effort is inspired in part by the recent high-profile violence that erupted on the East Coast, where non-Indigenous commercial fishers began attacking treaty-protected Mi’kmaq lobster harvesters, their catches and equipment.

In B.C., First Nations fishers have been charged for holding their first salmon ceremonies, or arrested after being hounded to sell fish by undercover fisheries officers, and tensions have generally been high between Indigenous and commercial fishers over demand for increasingly limited seafood stocks.

“In many cases there are individuals who have been fined … for exercising what ought to be constitutionally-protected fishing rights,” Reid says.

“We really want to explore these topics here (and) we’re aware of these parallels that are broader.”

Other projects on the horizon for the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries include research partnerships with several First Nations in the Lower Fraser region, and hiring on another faculty member.

Fisheries historian Dianne Newell, interim director of the centre, says this launch has been a longtime coming.

Newell has been working at UBC since the 1980s, and says though there has been interest in more Indigenous-focused research on fisheries in the Faculty of Science, things haven’t aligned in the right way until now.

Newell was key in forming a committee that eventually pitched the idea of an Indigenous fisheries centre to UBC.

“When I was putting together our physical proposal, I did a lot of research, I went all over campus,” she says.

“I was very fortunate that everyone was so supportive of this idea.”

Newell says after years of work in the faculty and consulting with communities, “the stars aligned” when they were able to recruit Reid.

“She’s unstoppable in terms of reaching out to communities. She sees that as her need as well as her obligation,” Newell says.

“People will really respond to her. She’s also walking into an environment that’s already started to change.”

Currently, Reid is the only Indigenous-identifying person in UBC’s Faculty of Science.

She is a citizen of Nisg̱a’a Nation in northwestern B.C., but grew up on the opposite coast on Prince Edward Island.

Her work with Indigenous fisheries has brought her around the world, but eventually brought her back home, where she’s been able to contribute research, connect with relatives and ultimately be a part of something she says was started by her ancestors.

“.125It’s been.375 a pathway to reconnect to a part of my heritage that I didn’t get to grow up with,” she says. “It was a path home for me.”

Her experience has led her to want to create space for Indigenous students at UBC, as they work on their own projects that will allow them to connect with culture and their own home territories.

“That’s going to be a major focus for me moving forward is their training and their mentorship,” she says.

“We need to cultivate a more positive environment where students aren’t asked to leave a part of themselves at the door.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

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

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Midway’s Boundary Expo Recreation Centre (above) is a mainstay of the local community and the Boundary area more broadly, according to Village officials. Photo: Submitted
West Boundary arena to get equipment overhaul thanks to provincial grant

The funds are being put toward new refrigeration equipment at Midway’s Boundary Expo Rec. Centre

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The City of Grand Forks is named as a defendant in a lawsuit by former Grand Forks Fire/Rescue volunteer, Leslie Cleverly. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
City of Grand Forks responds to lawsuit by former city firefighter

The City’s lawyers roundly denied allegations made by the plaintiff, Leslie Cleverly

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

Third-grader Hudson Adrian (left) on Wednesday, Feb. 24, poses with fourth-graders Josh Hlookoff (centre) and Jaylen Dekteroff at Hutton Elementary’s Pink Shirt Day parade. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
WATCH — Grand Forks’ elementaries support Pink Shirt Day

The annual celebration of kindness puts paid to the idea that bullying was ever cool

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Most Read