A boatload of ignorant fishermen should be charged for drinking, urinating and exposing themselves to families, said an angling group working to reduce conflict on B.C.’s Fraser River.
“It’s the worst incident reported this summer,” said Rod Clapton, co-chair of the Fraser River Peacemakers.
“They’re idiots…As far as we’re concerned they should be charged with indecent exposure if the information reported is accurate.”
Clapton said he sent an email to the RCMP Monday asking them to find the five men caught on camera Saturday getting into a heated argument with members of the Union Bar First Nation.
“We’re not going to let this go,” Clapton added in a telephone interview with APTN News. “No member of the sport fishing community would excuse this. It’s unacceptable.”
Photos of the men in an aluminum boat were posted on Facebook. The men are seen drinking, urinating and making lewd gestures.
One witness said a man dropped his pants and underwear and exposed himself to women and children cleaning fish on the shoreline.
“They were casting, talking loud, swearing – and their voices carried,” said Stacy McNeil.
“We said, ‘Hey, there’s children here.’ But instead of moving on one guy started peeing and told us to shut up.”
McNeil said the man made “disrespectful” and unwanted sexual comments while exposing himself.
“As adults, we see this all the time. But our kids were so confused and scared, with no idea why it was happening.”
McNeil said several families were working in the fish camp between Hope and Yale when the incident occurred at about 5 p.m. on Aug. 25.
She said her hands were shaking as she called Hope RCMP and described the scene to a dispatch operator on the line.
No officer was available to come out but RCMP did provide an email address for witnesses to share their photos and video.
She said three boats piloted by community members pulled up to the anglers and “told them to move along.”
She said there was shouting back and forth and a fight came close to breaking out.
“They said, ‘We started it, the women started it.’ They were calling down First Nations (people), saying we were stealing all the fish.”
McNeil said the incident could have escalated into something more dangerous.
“I was trying to be calm because my children were there,” she said of the kids that are between three- and 15-years-old.
“My body was shaking because I was so angry. I was trying not to stoop to that level and respond.”
She said she is proud the community was able to defuse the incident and there was no violence.
Sto:lo Chief Ernie Crey, who co-chairs the Peacemakers group with Clapton, agreed.
“We encourage people to share the river instead of getting into a fight over it,” he said.
Crey said misunderstandings crop up when anglers are unaware they’ve anchored in a traditional fishing hole.
“In the past they used to throw rocks at one another,” said Crey, “or branches of trees.”
In 2009, he said former chief Willie Charlie was shot in the face with a pellet gun. That’s when Peacemakers was formed.
“We don’t get involved in criminal activity,” added Clapton. “We go and talk and help resolve differences.”
The group recently received an award from the federal government for its 10 years of advocacy and mediation.
But this encounter shows it still has work to do.
“This is a pretty nasty incident,” said Clapton.
“We really expect the RCMP to pursue this and identify these individuals.”