photos: Photo: David Denofreo, Black Opal Images.

Memories of a warm summer afternoon

In two occasions, vendor Peter Thompson and his family had to defend their right to fish despite following protocol

Get on your megaphone

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It is late July, mid-afternoon, a warm sunny day. A good day to be outside doing anything, like going to the lake and fishing or swimming, or just sitting in the shade sipping on a nice cold drink.

But on this particular day my dad chose to go out and cut the fish that we caught days before, which we leave in one of those old tubs of the olden days with ice cold mountain water running on it for later use, or when we need it.

As he was busy outside, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was driving by. They stopped to ask my dad questions. He told them his story and then they didn’t believe him. They served him with a ticket and a promise to appear in court, which I thought was very odd because we are two miles from the river and they charged him for fishing on an off day.

We were living in Boston Bar so he had to go to court in Lillooet. The first time they asked if he needed a lawyer or someone to speak for him but he said, “No, I can speak for myself.” So they set another date for a couple of months later.

The second time my dad went, as he stood before the judge, the DFO representative gave the judge his story and the pictures he took of the fish.

The judge then asked my dad to take the stand and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Then the judge asked, “Do you have a lawyer present?” My dad answers, “No, I can speak for myself.”

So my dad proceeds to tell the court when the fishing days are and when they’re not, and he also adds, “Where is it in the system that the DFO can tell me where or when I can’t cut my salmon? He came to my house on my property and charged me, for what? I wasn’t down the river. Never had my net out, so what reason does he have to charge me?” Upon listening to my dad, the judge says “10-minute recess.”

Afterwards, my dad is called back before the judge and he says: “You’re a free man, Louie. I see no reason for you to be charged here.” My dad was happy that day.

I’ve invited friends from here to go with me as they have never tasted salmon or seen how we fished. They are originally from Alberta, so when we get to Boston Bar I follow protocol and go to the band office to get a fishing permit. I ask them if this weekend was a fishing day so I could fish that weekend. They approved us, so we all went down to the river and prepared the net in which we have a long pole secured by the guidelines. We have a pulley on the end of that pole that we use for our net to set it into the water and take it out.

And as we were fishing for quite a few hours, a banana helicopter went flying by. Then everyone was waving at us when we caught a fish, which was splashing around. The people saw that and they turned around and landed by us on the water, they had pontoons on. It was the DFO. They said, “How are you? Who’s in charge of this?” I said, “That would be me, these are my friends who wanted to know how I fished for food.”

Then he asked, “Do you have a permit?” I show him, I give him my ID then he says, “Do you know you’re fishing on an off day?” I show them the date I got the permit was Friday and told them I spoke with the band, but it was to no avail. I was cited with a ticket bound for Lillooet also, but the band office was closed so they told me that they will speak with the band next week. They did verify my story with the band office. I was relieved I didn’t have to truck from here to Lillooet. So we got to keep all the fish.

Peter Thompson sells Megaphone outside Whole Foods at West 4th and Vine.

Get on your megaphone

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312 Main St
Vancouver, BC
V6A 2T2