Police investigate report of fishermen harassing Indigenous women, kids on B.C. river

Woman claims the fisherman exposed themselves

A small group of Indigenous women and children were cutting and cleaning fish at the side of the Fraser River on Saturday when they reportedly became victims of harassment and indecent exposure.

Seabird Island woman Stacy McNeil used Facebook to share details of the harrowing experience on the river.

After fishing for sockeye all day, McNeil, her two sons, a female family member and her son had set up a small fish camp when, according to McNeil’s post, a group of five sports fishermen anchored their boat in front of the camp and began having ‘loud, obnoxious conversations’ filled with expletives.

“So many sports fishermen come and park in the exact same spot or near it, and there’s always loud laughter,” McNeil said. “We see it quite often and I just thought, ‘oh here we go again.’ We just kept doing our work. But this [group] got more obnoxious.”

When the woman asked them to stop using foul language in front of the kids, McNeil claims the men began urinating in front of the group, making lewd suggestions to the women and continuously exposing themselves.

“They had no fear in front of us women and children,” McNeil wrote.

The men also reportedly began a series of racist verbal attacks.

“According to them, we are dumb Indians who are stealing all of the fish, getting free fish and free gas,” wrote McNeil. “More and more words slandering our people and culture occurred.”

McNeil said this type of behaviour on the river encourages division between First Nations and sport fishers.

“It’s really challenging because we already know how a lot of sport fishermen feel about us and our traditional right to fish and feed our families,” she said. “Having stuff like that happen just exasperates that, and then we feel even more uncomfortable being out there.”

Eventually boats of Indigenous fishermen from the group’s Union Bar reserve came out, circling the offenders and asking them to move along, which they did – but only after exposing themselves to the group once again.

McNeil claims that the men were drinking and clearly intoxicated. She called RCMP and said she was told to send in the images she took of the alleged offenders.

Hope RCMP confirmed that there is an active investigation into the incident.

McNeil said incidents like this are bad for everyone who uses the river. She believes a good relationship between Indigenous and sport fishers is possible, but needs to be actively enforced.

“I did get a lot of comments and messages from people that are sport fishermen that are absolutely against this kind of behaviour, and we do have…relations with some sports fishermen and sturgeon fishermen that are well behaved,”she said. “But there’s some out there that I don’t think will ever comply with those things.”

“The biggest issue is that there is no enforcement on the water, there is never anybody out there checking on the fishermen, on the practices they’re using, on their behaviour. [The Department of Fisheries and Oceans] is not out there. No one is out there.”

“Enough is enough,” McNeil stated in her post. “Our fishing grounds are sacred…sports fisherman should not fish near our traditional sites. Stop the disrespect.”

Related: Boat of missing Stó:lō Grand Chief found in Fraser River, 17 years after death

Related: Seabird joins bid to block chinook sport fishing



nina.grossman@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Residents push Grand Forks council to support with flood buyouts

Staff estimate a $6.6 million difference between pre and post-flood value for Grand Forks buyouts

Boundary District Arts Council folds amid financial questions

The last board took over in November and could not find receipts for $8,000 in spending

City clears up purchase history on 70th Ave. timeline

The properties were offered to BC Housing for a supportive housing project in March

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Motor vehicle incident in Sparwood results in death of dump truck driver

Authorities did not specify what caused the vehicle to go off the road.

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Kootenay Anglican bishops, priests grapple with same-sex marriage vote

After same-sex marriage amendment rejection, priests, bishops voice discontent

Feds issue battery technology challenge at energy conference in Cranbrook

Provincial and territorial energy and mines ministers talk policy, challenges at annual meeting

The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

B.C. mom to go to Europe court in hopes of getting alleged abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown alleges her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Most Read