Sally Hope, Community Researcher with Seabird Island Band’s Aboriginal Rights and Title Team, recently traveled to Ottawa for an important meeting. The Yoo Hoo asked Sally to give Band Members the details of her trip.

As a Member and Co-chair of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance Executive (LFFA) Committee, I was scheduled to meet with the new Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard – Minister Hunter Tootoo – recently. Due to scheduling issues, the Minister was unable to meet with us in BC, but did offer to meet with us in Ottawa. On Feb. 15, Ken Malloway and myself flew to Ottawa to meet with Minister Tootoo. I began to search for a gift to present Minister Tootoo from Seabird Island. I contacted Crystal Chapman to request a cedar hat. Crystal graciously offered to have my order done before I left. Once in Ottawa, we were scheduled for a conference call with members of LFFA’s Executive Committee.

The meeting served to run through the speaking notes and dedicate certain topics to each speaker. As per proper protocol, we did provide the Minister and his staff a briefing note of all the issues and concerns we would be bringing to the discussion. Our meeting was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the Minister’s office and we checked in at the reception by 7:50 a.m. We were cordially greeted by his staff and due to the snow that Ottawa woke up to, things were running a bit behind. We were ushered into the boardroom at 8:35 a.m..

After introductions, we got right to the point. While we had a large agenda of issues, we acknowledged that we weren’t likely to get to all of them. We covered two topics that seemed to include the other issues. I began the discussion on early time Chinook, with the Minister intervening with specific questions. Ken Malloway discussed the second topic of economic opportunities and FSC fisheries. The Minister was able to interject with questions and comments and all in all, I felt confident that the discussion partnered with the briefing note, Minister Tootoo would be able to have a good understanding of the issues and concerns of the fisheries in the Lower Fraser.

Before he was whisked away to attend a cabinet meeting, we were able to present him with our gifts. I also gifted him with some of our Wind Dried Salmon from my mom, Cathy Hope. I can tell you that when he saw what was in the package, he didn’t stop smiling. As he examined it, he likened it to the Arctic Char that they harvest and wind dry. All in all, I would classify this meeting as a good starting point. Minister Tootoo avidly listened to what we had to share and actively participated in a good conversation. I left the office contemplating how sincerity goes a long way in relationship building!

– Sally Hope, Community Researcher