Henry Scow is a chief living on Guilford Island, British Columbia.


How long have your people have been here and what changes have the fisheries been through?

I can't really tell you how long we've been here; it's been quite a while. My dad started out buying clams for pieces packers in the late 30's, and he bought clams for these packers for over thirty or thirty-five years. That was to help the people in all of these villages so they could have a little bit of money and get out of the welfare system. That's why he started working, to help them fight other people. Over the years, things started to carry, times started changing. We used to get cod, spring fish, and everything, all the shellfish on our beaches here. Now, we can't get anything because of the environmental impact the fish farms have had on us. It's pretty hard to complain about what kind of diseases those fish farms have brought into our territory because we're not rocket scientists. They're the only people who know how to explain it to you.

They don't explain it in layman's terms. They explain it to us in a language that we don't understand. But, in our days when our fathers and grandfathers explained something to us it was straightforward. They explained to us in a system that we all came to understand. We knew how to get along and explain to all the people who walked around this area. We were all one people. We got to learn to love and respect each other. There was never a dull moment. We used to visit adjacent territories. Each time we went there we were welcome. They'd open their doors and we'd go and have coffee or tea or whatever. We would talk about different events that have happened within our territories. We all had long houses here. That booklet that I gave you, it tells the true fact about what we're really about.

When we were born the white men didn't tell us the day we were born. This is the way our moms and dads did it. That's how we grew up. We listened to our parents and we learned a lot, since we didn't have televisions, books, nothing to write on or anything. It was all common sense explained to us in a compassionate way about how we can survive. Due to the advent of the white man things started changing. It's hard to explain because when they came in they started taking things away from us and telling us different stories. We'll do this; we'll do that. When it comes right down to the brass facts of the whole issues they started taking all of our lands away. They started zoning off a bunch of landmarks and our reserves.

We owned the whole of British Columbia; the First Nations owned the whole of BC before the advent of the white man. So, where did the documentations come from? We didn't have to have documentation, because we knew who we were and what we were.
We learned how to live with the animals, birds, and all walks of life, the forest and everything. We got along. The white men started changing things, now they got fish farms here. Well, I didn't know anything about the fish farms when they first came in and then I unfortunately I went to work for them. It really shocked me what was going on because of how they fed the fish. They fed the fish five times a day! They had four five-gallon buckets for each pen. They had to get rid of all those that fed before night, and do the same thing over again that evening.

Fill them buckets up for the next days feed. But, where did all the pellets go? How many pellets to a bag, I don't know, but there's about 10,000 fish to a pen. I don't think they all got a nibble at the grub, who knows? It would seem that they got movie cameras under the water, but what does that mean? It doesn't see the whole picture. The water's murky in different areas. It gets really hard to see underwater, especially with the lenses; you don't get the full view. Times have changed considerably since the time of my grandfather and my dad, and since the advent of the white man. They've taken control of everything. The governments have come in with no consultation with the First Nations people. When they first came into our areas, they gave no explanation of their ultimate goal. So, they infringed within our territories and the governments condoned that. Why? We don't know.

I have shown you that big aerial map that has all those Indian names on there, which shows that the whole of BC belongs to the First Nations people. So, how did they allow those governments to come in with that piece of paper and sign on the dotted line? Now, we've become our own worst enemies. It's the love of money for the government. Years ago, when fishing was good, I read in a document that sports fishery was a million dollar organization compared to the commercial. Now, that's been phased out. Now, it's the fish farm, a billion, trillion-dollar organization, and we've got no money to fight them. To whom are we going to turn? Who's right and who's wrong? Who's going to walk that street and say, "OK, you're on our turf, get out." They got the government behind them.

How do we approach that? Who's going to answer to you and me? They came in and stole our country; we didn't go over there and steal it. How did they allow the Atlantic salmon to come over on our side of the ocean? We weren't brought up with the lifestyle of the Atlantic salmon. We had our own wild stocks, as they're called. Our creator gave it to us. They didn't give us the Atlantic salmon; they gave us what's all within our own area. Now, the government is figuring that we don't know how to look after it. The wild stock is depleted, and everything's depleting, because the environment is changing. They change the rules and regulations without even consulting with the rightful owners of the territories.

My dad said don't ever "out" your fellow man, because that guy might have a puzzle to your problem, so that's why they always state it, always love and respect each other, all walks of life. You see the time story on the beach there, that's always been our livelihood since time immemorial. We lived on it, we fed on it, we barbequed on it. In some areas, we can't go there because the environmental impact is disastrous. The fish farms have left their debris behind. We didn't know at the time about infected species. We didn't realize the fact that when they came in here it was going to damage our area. Now, places you go through digging clams, you just sink into mud way over your ankles. It's become muddy. Actually, more like jelly.

You know that's taking grub away from our table, which they have always done all our lives. So, now they're saying, for the First Nations people, there is a lifting of the moratorium on fish farms. So, now all of the First Nations are going to have a job and be happy for the rest of their lives, which is a farce as far as I'm concerned. If the government doesn't want to see it our way they just railroad us and do whatever they want. We can come to an understanding of who we are, what we are, and what we stand for, basically, our love for our land and all of our resources. That's the way we have been all our lives.

The decline in fisheries, you feel, is at least due in part to these fish farms. Were the fisheries much healthier before the fish farms came and caused the fisheries to decline?

Before the entry of the fish farms we had plenty of stock. We could go digging where we wanted to go for our food and commercial digging and everything. Now, since the fish farms have come in it has changed quite a bit. Their pollution is on the beaches. Now, we go to some of the areas where the fish farms were and the product is not there anymore. You're going to have to ask the guy upstairs what happened. Even the rocket scientists can't tell you that. There are a lot of questions about how the fish farm disease has impacted our territory. We know it's depleting, because we live here, and we know our territory. We know where all our current stocks are.

Anything else you'd like to add, Henry?

The bottom line is that the fish farm has never consulted with the First Nations, and therefore we'd like them to pack their gear and get out, the same way they got in.