January 19, 2024
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C.) The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) is alarmed that the BC Métis Federation’s (BCMF) Coastal Water Protectors are holding a Coastal Conference on January 20th in North Vancouver. The conference purports to be “…a gathering dedicated to the protection and preservation of our invaluable aquatic ecosystems.”
FNLC echoes the request, as set out in correspondence to BCMF from xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ – the exclusive title and rights holders within the shared territories in which the conference is set to take place – that BCMF cancel their conference effective immediately.
Despite BCMF not being a rights-holder, or representative of Indigenous nations having title and rights, in what is now known as British Columbia, Trans Mountain erroneously and inappropriately signed a Mutual Benefits Agreement with BCMF in 2014 relating to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). BCMF has since been a vocal supporter of Trans Mountain and TMX.
The Coastal Water Protectors is an initiative of BCMF’s so-called “Coastal Conservation Department”. The initiative consists of two current and ongoing projects – the Co-Developing Community Response project, and the Aquatic Habitat Restoration Fund (Projects) – which are both accommodation measures administered by the Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada for TMX.
The Projects directly and improperly involve BCMF and the Coastal Water Protectors in, among other things, co-developing and establishing a meaningful role for BCMF and the Coastal Water Protectors in marine incident management and aquatic habitat restoration activities in freshwater and marine ecosystems in the Fraser River Watershed and inland watersheds along the TMX corridor, all of which are located in the territories of First Nations.