September 13, 2012
(Ottawa, ON) –Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould, British Columbia strongly support the effort of several First Nations along the North and Central Coast of British Columbia to prohibit trophy bear hunting. First Nations along the coast have joined together and have declared a ban on the trophy bear hunt in their traditional territories.
“These First Nations are demonstrating leadership and are fulfilling their responsibilities to their traditional territories,” said National Chief Atleo. “Their prior efforts to press for action and to work with other governments demonstrate that implementation of our rights is necessary for sustainable development. First Nations are not opposed to hunting; in fact, respectful and sustainable harvesting of wildlife is part of all First Nations cultures and traditions.
AFN National Chief added: “Traditional knowledge holders in the territories have been warning for quite some time that the trophy bear hunt is not only disrespectful, but unsustainable. First Nations have been managing these territories since time immemorial and have only encountered severe resource shortages after provincial and federal management of the environment was imposed.”
Other government’s failure to effectively monitor and regulate the trophy bear hunt now means bear populations, in particular Kemode bear populations, within First Nation traditional territories are threatened,” said Jody Wilson-Raybould, AFN Regional Chief of British Columbia. “Killing for profit also leads to dramatic reductions in the bear population which undermines sustainable ecotourism enterprises,” she added.
In supporting the efforts of the Coastal First Nations she commented, “The Coastal First Nations are now being put in the difficult position of enforcing the ban. The exercise of their jurisdiction is an example of the role our Nations will increasingly play in ensuring sustainable use of the natural resources within our respective territories. The ban must be respected.”
This situation provides an excellent example of First Nations implementing Article 10(c) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which requires Canada to support the customary and sustainable use of biological resources, including the conservation of key resources for First Nations use. This binding international commitment is also reflected in Article 29 of the UNDRIP, which requires Canada to provide assistance to First Nations conserving key biological resources on their traditional territories. The killing of bears for sport is neither customary nor sustainable.
The Coastal First Nations are an alliance of First Nations that includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation. Chief Doug Neasloss of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation is actively involved in patrolling his traditional territories to enforce the ban.
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