WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C - Sep. 26, 2017 - Following the worst wildfire season the Province of British Columbia has ever seen, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation remains unequivocally opposed to the opening of the moose hunt in Tŝilhqot’in territory. The Province of B.C has not addressed this crisis appropriately and the Tsilhqot’in Nation is exploring all options to ensure food security for its people and healthy moose populations for the future.
Moose populations in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region have severely declined over the past decade. In response to the unprecedented wildfires, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation has been calling on the Province of B.C to ban the licensed moose hunt for 2017 in Tŝilhqot’in territory.
Instead, the BC Wildfire Service recently approved increased access by hunters to affected areas. Despite the BC Government’s stated commitment to reconciliation, these actions were taken without consulting the Tŝilhqot’in and without regard for the right of free, prior informed consent under the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Tŝilhqot’in Nation calls on the Provincial Government to engage immediately with us about the measures required to protect threatened moose populations. Tŝilhqot’in communities who rely on hunting and fishing for sustenance and culture are prepared not to hunt moose to ensure the stability of the remaining population. The Tŝilhqot’in Nation is outraged that the Province of B.C would let non-subsistence hunters into the territory while First Nations communities struggle to deal with the effects of the wildfires.
Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chairman of Tŝilhqot’in National Government, says, “The Tŝilhqot’in Nation continues to suffer because of poor government decision making in the aftermath of the wildfires. The actions by the B.C government so far do not reflect the best interests of First Nations, wildlife conservation, nor their commitments to be different than previous governments in dealing with Indigenous peoples.”
“We do not accept the Province making decisions on Tŝilhqot’in territory without the consultation and consent of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation. Our food security is at risk. We are still recovering from the wildfires and refuse to allow hunters to endanger the already vulnerable moose population.”