British Columbia

72 hours to vacate: First Nation gives eviction notice to salmon farm

"This is a 72-hour eviction notice to all salmon farmers in the unceded territory of the Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw," said the Kingcome band's hereditary chief Willie Moon to a pair of farm workers in a video that has since amassed over 80,000 views on Facebook.

Traditional Leaders of Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw board CERMAQ fish farm

Dzawada’enuxw First Nation Hereditary Chief Willie Moon says around 60 village members have been evacuated to Alert Bay, after blue-green algae was found in the community's well water. (Tamo Campos/YouTube)

A B.C. First Nation has served a 72-hour eviction notice to a fish farm on north end of Vancouver Island.

Hereditary chiefs from Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw First Nation boarded a Cermaq/Mitsubishi salmon farm off the Burdwood Islands earlier this week. Their message was clear: it's time to leave.

"This is a 72-hour eviction notice to all salmon farmers in the unceded territory of the Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw," said the Kingcome band's hereditary chief Willie Moon to a pair of farm workers in a video that has since amassed over 80,000 views on Facebook.

Three hereditary chiefs of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw issued the eviction notice to a fish farm on the north end of Vancouver Island this week. (Tamo Campos/YouTube)

The leaders of Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw cite the fish farm's occupation of their ancestral lands as the reason for the eviction, as well as concerns that the farm has damaged wild salmon habitat.

In an interview with CBC News, Moon said their position is firm.

"This is unconditional," said Moon. "We want them out of our territories."

A letter regarding the eviction is also being sent to the provincial and federal governments. 

'Cleansing our waters'

The leaders also boarded another farm just days later, this time in Kingcome Inlet. They were accompanied by members from the surrounding communities and supporting First Nations while a cleansing ceremony was performed during the occupation.

A cleansing ceremony was held on the Cermaq fish farm to protest the facility's operations. (Melissa Willie/YouTube)

Jeremy Dunn, the director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association — a collective of salmon farming operations across the province that includes Cermaq — hopes a resolution between both parties will be made.

"Cermaq is more than willing to have discussions about their farming operations in [Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw]" said Dunn, adding that Cermaq representatives described the occupation as a respectful visit to their farm.

Members from the Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw and supporting communities boarded the Cermaq fish farm at Kingcome Inlet. (Melissa Willie/YouTube)

"We know that First Nations have a great claim to the issues in their territories," he added. "And we're hopeful that with this particular nation that we can strike up a relationship and potentially an agreement."

Cermaq has not yet responded to a request for an interview from CBC News while Moon did not say what the First Nations would do if the company did not leave.