Fisheries on the West Coast are highly regulated. So, 25 years ago, when fisherman Ron Sparrow used a net almost double the regulated length in the Fraser River, his act of defiance against the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) eventually brought him to the Supreme Court of Canada a few years later.
He argued that he was “exercising his aboriginal right to fish, protected under the Constitution.” About his fight, which took years, he states, “I wanted to make sure natives could harvest fish, not just for our generation but for all the descendants to come.”
In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled the rights of native fisherman take priority over sport and commercial fishing.
The 1990 R. v. Sparrow case proved seminal in asserting the rights of first nations, and was ranked among the 20 most significant legal events nationally over the last 100 years by the Canadian Bar Association.
Sparrow has been fishing commercially for 53 years, runs his own company, and continues to negotiate with the DFO regarding the fishing rights of the Musqueam.
He will be awarded Environment and Natural Resources Award at the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Edmonton, March 11, 2011. [Read full article].