B.C. Premier John Horgan visited with local First Nations in Alert Bay in 2017 to discuss transitioning salmon farms out of the Broughton Archipelago. (North Island Gazette file photo)

B.C. Premier John Horgan visited with local First Nations in Alert Bay in 2017 to discuss transitioning salmon farms out of the Broughton Archipelago. (North Island Gazette file photo)

New documentary chronicles Indigenous-led initiative to rebuild wild salmon stocks

The world premiere was held at the Vancouver International Mountain Film festival

An Indigenous-led documentary on salmon farming and the Broughton Archipelago is now available for viewing.

The 17-minute documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of an unprecedented partnership between three coastal First Nations – the Mamalilkulla, ‘Namgis, and the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis – and the province of BC, which is driving the phased removal of open net-pen salmon farms from BC’s Broughton Archipelago to protect wild salmon.

It was produced by the Indigenous-led Broughton Aquaculture Transition Initiative (BATI) with the help of director Damien Gillis, who followed the program in action over the past year. Teams of monitoring technicians from each of the Nations regularly conduct surveys and sea lice counts on the industry’s farms, as well as habitat restoration and other efforts to bring back wild salmon in their traditional, unceded territories.

The film, which features stunning cinematography of wild salmon and coastal wildlife, made its world premiere at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival on March 1 at the Kay Meek Arts Centre and is online from Feb. 25 to March 27 as part of the festival’s Canadian Environmental show. It chronicles the longstanding concerns of these Nations about the impacts of fish farms on wild salmon and the marine environment, which led to negotiations with the province in 2017 and 2018.

The resulting agreement has already seen nine farms removed from critical migratory pathways for juvenile wild salmon, with one slated for removal this year, and seven more whose future will be determined next year based on the science currently being conducted.

“I think it’s important to keep an open mind,” says recently retired Mamalilikulla Chief Richard Sumner, adding, “The bottom line is the survival of the wild salmon, so that we have a reliable food source, not only for ourselves, but for the wildlife population in our territories.”


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– Gazette staff

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