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.

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

Just Posted

Vernon Search and Rescue, with help from the Air Rescue One helicopter out of Wildcat Helicopters in Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, were able to transport an injured snowmobiler to Vernon Regional Airport, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a serious, painful back injury. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan helicopter rescue teams called to retrieve injured sledder at Greystokes

Vernon and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue help load injured man into waiting helicopter

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two separate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

The District of Sicamous is trying to take over management of the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre . (File Photo)
District of Sicamous seeks management contract for hockey arena

The arena has been managed by a non-profit society since it was built in the early 1980s.

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Chase RCMP arrest intoxicated man running into highway traffic

The man was wanted on several warrents in Alberta; was held overnight but released

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. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Wills Hodgkinson, 10, and his mom Neeley Brimer get ready to battle round three of cancer. The community of Penticton has his back. (Submitted)
Community raises $21K to help Penticton boy battle third round of cancer

Okanoggin Barbers held the fundraiser on Saturday for 10-year-old Wills Hodgkinson

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
UPDATE: 70-year-old man killed in workplace accident at Baldy Mountain

The mountain closed on Saturday but has partially re-opened today (Sunday)

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Kamloops Fire Rescue battled a landfill fire which belched toxic smoke into the air on Feb. 27. (City of Kamloops Photo)
Fire at Kamloops landfill sends thick black smoke into the air

Firefighters made slow progress on the fire throughout the morning.

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Most Read