History: Canadian Columbia River Inter-tribal Fisheries Commission

The Canadian Columbia River Inter-tribal Fisheries Commission was created by representatives of the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc and Okanagan Nations in the early 1990s based on two fundamental concerns:

  • Continuing damage to fish and aquatic ecosystems, and associated aboriginal rights, within the Columbia Basin in BC;
  • The cultural imperative of restoring anadromous salmon populations throughout their historic range in the upper Columbia, including to the headwaters at Columbia Lake.

The creation of CCRIFC was spearheaded by the following First Nations leaders:

  • Chief Albert Saddleman (Okanagan Nation)
  • Chief Paul Sam (Secwepemc Nation)
  • Wilfred Jacobs (Ktunaxa Nation)
  • Chief Sophie Pierre (Ktunaxa Nation)
  • Fred Fortier (Secwepemc Nation)
  • Byron Louis (Okanagan Nation)

Early 1990s work was focussed on developing strategies for redress for the loss of salmon.  This culminated in a report entitled “No Way Up: First Nations’ legal options for loss of the Columbia River fisheries” (Dr. Andrew Thompson, Nancy Morgan and Christopher Lemon) in October 1993 and a workshop on First Nations compensation options in November, 1993.

CCRIFC’s first director was hired in November, 1994 and a ceremony was held on the Shuswap Indian Band reserve in March, 1995 at which time the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create CCRIFC was signed by leaders from the Okanagan, Secwepemc and Ktunaxa Nations.  The MoU included the following principles: