Some 30 people occupied the office of Saanich South MLA Lana Popham Thursday afternoon to protest fish farms. Wolf Depner / News Staff

Protest hits office of Saanich MLA Lana Popham

Some 30 people protested against fish farms in solidarity of First Nations

Saanich South MLA Lana Popham said she wants to keep working with all stakeholders in her capacity as minister of agriculture after opponents of fish farming occupied her constituency office.

“I want to be clear,” she said. “We hear and understand the concerns being raised by First Nations and members of the public.I am committed to continuing to work with First Nations, the aquaculture industry, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to ensure B.C.’s aquaculture sector is environmentally sustainable and respects First Nations’ rights while continuing to provide good jobs for British Columbians.”

Popham issued those comments Thursday afternoon after a group of some 30 people identifying themselves as Fish Farms Out Now! occupied Popham’s office in solidarity of several First Nations, who have been occupying the docks at Marine Harvest’s Swanson Island salmon farm near Alert Bay since Aug. 25, 2017. Occupiers have said that they will not leave until the operator has removed the farm from their traditional territory.

The docks lie within the traditional territories of the Musgamagw (including Dzawada’enuxw, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis and Gwawaenuk), ‘Namgis and Mamalilikulla First Nations.

Popham, who is responsible for fish farms, was not at her office during the protest, which organizers said would last for three hours, starting from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. Popham later promised through a constituency office staff that she would talk to them. This promise however did not appear to satisfy them as many, if not all, said they would stay beyond 2:30 p.m.

Critics say commercial fish farms growing Atlantic salmon threaten local populations of Pacific salmon, a historical food source for First Nations.

Thursday’s protest also framed the future fate of fish farms as a litmus test for the provincial government as protesters passed out flyers hat quoted promises by prominent cabinet members including Premier John Horgan himself to contain, if not phase out fish farms.

“Listen Lana Popham, it is time for you to stop them,” they chanted at one stage in voicing their protest against the practice of fish farming.

Popham said in her release that the NDP’s government “is deeply committed” to protecting wild salmon stocks. “It’s essential to our economy, to our province, and to B.C.’s First Nations,” she said. “We are committed to implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Commission aimed at protecting sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.”

Waving placards of various kind inside, the youthful protesters also tried to generate attention by hanging several banners outside of Popham’s office near the intersection of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue.

But perhaps the most effective reaching an audience was through social media, with protesters sharing pictures and videos.

Popham later praised the protesters for being respectful and peaceful. “I have no problem with respectful protests,” she said. “The occupiers even did the dishes before they vacated the premise. Can’t get much better than that.”

Just Posted

Smell of pot plants sparks social media debate

A noticeable smell on Sooke Road has caught the attention of residents

Horgan indicates Highway 14 improvements coming soon

Premier says looming announcement part of much more coming for south coast connector

Caring trumps racism for retired Langford fire chief

Support for Haitian orphans continues

West Shore RCMP seeking bikes stolen from Langford condo

Public asked to keep an eye out for three bicycles

Community rallies behind Sooke boy with rare condition

Dozens called on government to cover cost of drug for six-year-old Landen Alexa

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

Editorial: It’s what we do with anger that matters

Langford resident reacts to Trump’s comments

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

Wanted by Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers for the week of Jan. 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Most Read