A-Tlegay Fisheries

We Wai Kai and We Wai Kum

Founded in 1999, A-Tlegay was the result of collaboration of the 5 member nations; We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, K’omoks, Tlowitsis and Kwiakah Nations.

A-Tlegay Fisheries Society provides food fishing permits to members as per its communal license. It also provides services to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), BC Hydro and other private projects. These include environmental monitoring, habitat assessment and restoration, catch monitoring, and surveys of marine species.

The We Wai Kai

The name We Wai Kai comes from the Chief named Way Key and those descending from Way Key who survived the great flood. The original village was in Topaz Harbour where Way Key gathered his tribe together when he had a vision about an upcoming flood. Woven cedar ropes were made that began in the village and ascended to the top of the mountain where Way Key lashed four canoes together.

Finally the flood did occur; however due to Way Key’s hard work and planning, the tribe has lots to eat. When the current was too strong Way Key began to worry about the woven cedar rope. Way Key ordered one canoe to be sent adrift which the current took south. The current reversed to the north and was strong again; Way Key ordered another canoe to be sent adrift which went north.

When the flood receded, Way Key was left with two canoes in the same place. As the story goes the canoe that drifted south landed around the state of Washington and the canoe that went north ended up around Kitimat and to this day our language, culture and names are similar. The two canoes that remained are considered to be the descendants that are now known as the We Wai Kai Nation (Cape Mudge Band), and the Wei Wai Kum Nation (Campbell River Indian Band).

The We Wai Kai Nation (Cape Mudge Band) current population is approximately 1200 Citizens, about 1/2 live on reserve (split between Cape Mudge Village and Quinsam Reserve), and the other 1/2 live off reserve. The Nation has 5 designated reserve lands covering 685 hectares (1693 acres),

illage Bay — IR #7; Open Bay — IR #8; Drew Harbour — IR #9; Cape Mudge — IR #10; Quinsam — IR #12.

The Wei Wai Kum

For thousands of years the Wei Wai Kum lived harmoniously with the lands, waters and resources throughout their territories of the southern Johnstone Straights and adjacent mainland inlets. Foods such as: salmon, seal, octopus, herring, cod, deer, elk, ducks, shellfish and berries were harvested and preserved in intricate methods appropriate to the environment and ecosystems of their surroundings. The regularly treacherous waterways and passages of places like Seymour Narrows, Race Point and Arran Rapids were utilized strategically in warfare to successfully defend against raids by northern tribes of the Haida and Bella Coola.

Primary territories and sites belonging to the Wei Wai Kum are Loughborough Inlet in its entirety, Greene Point (outside the mouth of Loughborough) and the Tyee Spit at Campbell River known as Glamatoo.

The Wei Wai Kum First Nation has 4 separate Reserves, Campbell River 11 (115 ha.), Homayno 2 (Heydon Bay, 15. 4 ha.), Loughborough 3 (8.5 ha.) and Matlaten 4 (Greene Point) (39 ha.) The main community is located on the Campbell River Reserve, located near the downtown core of the City of Campbell River and along the river estuary; roughly 350 members live on the reserve.


Through the A-Tlegay Fisheries Society management collaboration the communities of We Wai Kai and We Wai Kum will work to:

  • Assist and facilitate our Member First Nations in the preservation and exercise of their aboriginal fishing rights throughout their territories;
  • To regulate and administer those responsibilities incurred in the management of all marine resources and foreshores within the territories of its Member First Nations;
  • enhance and protect all marine resources of their territories for the future benefit and livelihood of their citizens; and,
  • make representations to governments and organizations on behalf of the Society and Member First Nations with respect to all marine resources. .

Modern Fishery

Our First Nations people have lived off of the bounties of the sea for time immemorial. The first newcomers and bureaucratic Indian agents observed this inextricable connection of our ways of life to the ebbs and flows of the sea and the many gifts it bears.

Documentation of this exists in numerous letters from Indian agents to the Crown outlining the logic of how to “deal” with coastal First Nations which specify that since these First Nations live and depend on the sea, they do not require the use of many Lands. In other words they were of the opinion that First Nations were “wasting” these lands; that they didn’t need them because they survived off of the sea and therefore justified the Indian Reserve Commission’s act of issuing tiny scattered Reserves for coastal First Nations.

This corroborated by the evidence in the interior and prairies and plains First Nations and the incomparable size of the Reserves which were set out for them.

Coastal First Nations’ connections to the sea and marine resources has never been fully acknowledged by new governments and regulatory authorities, thus preventing the ability for our First Nations to adapt their original marine resource economies of the day to benefit from participating in the current systems of commerce, trade, free enterprise and globally linked markets which now operate all around us. It is true that First Nations are participants in the ever growing marine economic sectors, but this participation is not in tune with how coastal First Nations would be involved (or ought to be involved) in the vast marine sectors of our region if our ownership / property rights and the right to resource stewardship control were ever acknowledged and upheld.

It should be noted that First Nations’ involvement in mainstream commercial economic activities such as logging and fishing has mostly been limited to employment as wage labourers. Due to multiple barriers, namely access to credit and capital, and oppressive Federal Indian Policy, First Nations were not granted the equal opportunity of participating in such industries as free willing capitalists, positioned to reap the benefits of their business investments; instead First Nations were generally inputs to the production processes of major corporations and private industry which for extensive periods have enjoyed excessive profits.

The history of First Nations’ commercial fishing licenses and asset disenfranchisement is one particular example that has widespread implications for the present day reality of many Fist Nations. The level of commercial fishing licenses and assets held by individual First Nations members and even entire Bands today is far below what it should be. This is a significant barrier to reversing the reality and to begin growing First Nations participation in sustainable commercial fisheries to the point where this industry is once again a major contributor to the health and wellbeing of First Nations on the coast.

Prior to European contact, our people harvested migrating Fraser River sockeye and other salmon in Johnstone Strait by means and techniques that were both reliable and successful. Fish were harvested to serve populations much greater than the 3,000 Lekwiltok citizens of today. Weirs, traps, nets and other fish capturing devices were operated as recently as 1920. The harvesting efficiency in Johnstone Straight in the 18th Century could undoubtedly surpass that of the commercial sector that exists today. Although capable of significant harvest levels, these traps and weirs were situated near villages, which became problematic for the fishing companies who eventually succeeded in having them replaced with vessels; better suited for transportation to centralized processing locations, thus asserting European controls.

It has not been easy for our people to gain stakes in the commercial fisheries of today after having our traditional methods taken from us. The systemically racist policies construed and forced upon First Nations by the government of the day were engineered to deprive us of basic rights and freedoms to take from us the abundant resources of our Lands and waters. Despite the many obstacles our forefathers, with much persistence, gained entry into the commercial fishing license programs administered by the Government of Canada. Currently there are court cases that have emphasised that the government racist policies and management plans infringe on our Aboriginal title and rights. These cases along with other actions are substantial achievements of coastal First Nations peoples on the road to realizing equality and equity following invasive European settlements of the 19th and 20th centuries. However, there is much more work to be done in reconciling this historical reality.

Serving the local fishing sector with affordable services and storage facilities: 2355 Spit Road, Campbell River, B.C.

The Wei Wai Kum Net Loft offers indoor and outdoor storage, two work lanes, forklift services, and a sheet wall for loading and unloading boats. The facility is run on a cost-recovery basis. 

Quinsam Hatchery

Booth We Wai Kai and We Wai Kum share in the selective harvest of surplus enhanced salmon from the Quinsam Hatchery.

Harvest crews are organized through the A-Tlegay Fisheries Society, employing several community members. Proceeds from the sale of fish are administered by the Society and contribute to the Communities development.

The salmon not needed for spawning are harvested and sold as both raw product and beginning in 2023, into value-added products that bear our brand. By value-adding and branding our catch of seafood we hope to improve the markets appreciation for our fisheries and our way of life from the sea.