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My baptism name is Simon Smith Sr. I’m named after my great grandfather LESĆIM who was a hereditary chief of our village, and I carry his name.
What do you think to hunt and fish as formerly meant to our ancestors?
I guess when we talk about the Douglas Treaty, in the beginning, it wasn’t hunting and fishing. It was a peacekeeping treaty because one of the farmers shot one of our children going across his field and Douglas decided, yeah, I better make peace with these people. So, he made peace with our people by signing a treaty. And so that, when that treaty came out, it also had hunting and fishing in it.
Even though we won under our treaty rights, there’s nothing left. There’s no fish, there’s no more hunting. Like I say, I don’t even know if that treaty is worth anything now. I say this because I know a lot of our people sold their seiners. They used to have a few seiners and they sold it because there’s nothing there to fish anymore. We have a diminishing treaty, which is going to be all for nothing. And I guess I shouldn’t say that. Maybe we can make it work to our benefit.
How do you think our people could begin to fish as formerly?
When I was growing up as a young person, my grandmother used to get me up really early in the morning and tell me, “you go fishing before you go to school, and you catch as many fish as you can before you come in and go to school.” So I’d catch wherever I could. Then I got to shore and she took it and went to Chinatown and sold the fish for food. When I’d get home, I’d go fishing again. I always thought, well, I gotta go, I gotta do something to survive.
Later on there, people started to put that we were giving up land to that treaty, through the treaty, but we never did do that. My late father used to say, “You’re not a beggar in this country. You own it.” We have to make a decision, whether right or wrong, to try and better our people. Like I say, I think that in order for us to survive in the world that we’re living in today, we have a right to make a decision, whether it’s going to benefit our family, our village.
We have to sooner or later step up and talk, like to me guys now, that we’ve never given up being here, that we still own it. I think that that’s why we went through the elected system, that our leaders can make that decision and hopefully that they think about what they’re going to do before or raise that or come to our people and tell them what, how they feel about how we can better help.