(Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George, BC) — The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) condemns recent death threats directed toward Chief Judy Desjarlais and members of the Blueberry River First Nation located in the Treaty 8 region. Proposed interim changes by the province of British Columbia to close caribou hunting in BC’s Peace region and reduce moose hunting by half for two years have provoked inappropriate and unacceptable reactions that have been directed toward First Nations. BCAFN calls for calm and for all parties to collaboratively find satisfactory solutions that will work for the environment and the people who extract their livelihood from it.
“The foundation of peaceful relations between many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada are the Treaty Rights that were, and must continue to be, upheld and terms negotiated. First Nations’ rights to maintain their cultures and to practice their rights to hunt, fish and trap without interference have been violated as confirmed in the precedent setting Yahey court case,” stated Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “Blaming and spreading misinformation is unhelpful as we are all working together on many issues. First Nations rights, knowledge, and cultures must be respected as we forge a pathway to reconciliation and find solutions to problems.”
The environmental and harvesting crisis in northeastern British Columbia is complex and multi-dimensional with significant industrial and resource extraction pressures imposed in the region over decades. First Nations must be part of any decision-making process to determine better conservation and habitat restoration strategies on their traditional territories. Efforts to bully and intimidate First Nations and leadership will further complicate and endanger the balance that exists between humans, wildlife populations and the environment.