Police investigate report of fishermen harassing Indigenous women, kids on B.C. river

Woman claims the fisherman exposed themselves

A small group of Indigenous women and children were cutting and cleaning fish at the side of the Fraser River on Saturday when they reportedly became victims of harassment and indecent exposure.

Seabird Island woman Stacy McNeil used Facebook to share details of the harrowing experience on the river.

After fishing for sockeye all day, McNeil, her two sons, a female family member and her son had set up a small fish camp when, according to McNeil’s post, a group of five sports fishermen anchored their boat in front of the camp and began having ‘loud, obnoxious conversations’ filled with expletives.

“So many sports fishermen come and park in the exact same spot or near it, and there’s always loud laughter,” McNeil said. “We see it quite often and I just thought, ‘oh here we go again.’ We just kept doing our work. But this [group] got more obnoxious.”

When the woman asked them to stop using foul language in front of the kids, McNeil claims the men began urinating in front of the group, making lewd suggestions to the women and continuously exposing themselves.

“They had no fear in front of us women and children,” McNeil wrote.

The men also reportedly began a series of racist verbal attacks.

“According to them, we are dumb Indians who are stealing all of the fish, getting free fish and free gas,” wrote McNeil. “More and more words slandering our people and culture occurred.”

McNeil said this type of behaviour on the river encourages division between First Nations and sport fishers.

“It’s really challenging because we already know how a lot of sport fishermen feel about us and our traditional right to fish and feed our families,” she said. “Having stuff like that happen just exasperates that, and then we feel even more uncomfortable being out there.”

Eventually boats of Indigenous fishermen from the group’s Union Bar reserve came out, circling the offenders and asking them to move along, which they did – but only after exposing themselves to the group once again.

McNeil claims that the men were drinking and clearly intoxicated. She called RCMP and said she was told to send in the images she took of the alleged offenders.

Hope RCMP confirmed that there is an active investigation into the incident.

McNeil said incidents like this are bad for everyone who uses the river. She believes a good relationship between Indigenous and sport fishers is possible, but needs to be actively enforced.

“I did get a lot of comments and messages from people that are sport fishermen that are absolutely against this kind of behaviour, and we do have…relations with some sports fishermen and sturgeon fishermen that are well behaved,”she said. “But there’s some out there that I don’t think will ever comply with those things.”

“The biggest issue is that there is no enforcement on the water, there is never anybody out there checking on the fishermen, on the practices they’re using, on their behaviour. [The Department of Fisheries and Oceans] is not out there. No one is out there.”

“Enough is enough,” McNeil stated in her post. “Our fishing grounds are sacred…sports fisherman should not fish near our traditional sites. Stop the disrespect.”

Related: Boat of missing Stó:lō Grand Chief found in Fraser River, 17 years after death

Related: Seabird joins bid to block chinook sport fishing



nina.grossman@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey mayor dissolves public safety committee, creates one for police transition

Locke slams the move, saying who McCallum appoints to the committee will be ‘a very large tell’

Surrey lotto winner plans to spoil his kids

Attila Kelemen won $500K in the Daily Grand draw, held on July 8

Uphill battle for Cloverdale cyclist, 64, and her daughters in Cypress Challenge charity ride

Robyn Wells has lost both of her parents and two uncles to pancreatic cancer

South Surrey mom optimistic changes ahead for recovery homes

Maggie Plett met with Min. Judy Darcy Thursday

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

Most Read