Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

A B.C. First Nations council is condemning the racist and violent acts against Mi’kmaq lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia, demanding the federal government and police follow through on promises to protect their rights to a commercial harvest.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC), representing 14 First Nations with about 10,000 members along the west coast of Vancouver Island, also urged the general public to speak out against the crimes before any lives are lost.

“All Canadians should be astounded by these consistent acts of outright hate, racism, and violence,” NTC vice-president Mariah Charleson said. “We cannot allow this to be accepted and tolerated, all governments need to act immediately.”

NTC president, Judith Sayers, added the federal government’s and RCMP’s admission that systemic racism exists doesn’t equate to meaningful action to protect the fishermen.

The statement Oct. 19 follows a tense week in the Atlantic province where Indigenous leaders have accused RCMP of standing by while non-Indigenous protesters clashed with Sipekne’katik fishermen and vandalized property, destroyed and stole Indigenous-caught lobster and allegedly assaulted a Sipekne’katik chief. The destruction escalated over the weekend when an Indigenous-owned van and a lobster pound were set ablaze.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about the dispute over Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishery

The Sipekne’katik are conducting a fishery outside of the federally regulated season based on a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision for Indigenous fisherman Donald Marshall Jr, ruling East Coast Indigenous groups have the right to fish for a “moderate livelihood,” though a second ruling stated this was subject to federal regulation.

The NTC stated it is not up to protestors to decide when and how the Indigenous fishery occurs, adding no one should be afraid for their lives and safety will exercising their right to a living.

Canada’s Indigenous services minister, Marc Miller, condemned police for failing to properly protect the Mi’kmaq fishermen. But Public Safety Minister Bill Blair defended their ability to do their job and has approved a provincial request for more RCMP officers in the region to keep the peace.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia calls on Ottawa to define a ‘moderate livelihood,’ as fishing dispute boils over

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, a member of the NTC, issued its own statement of support for the Indigenous fishermen today (Oct. 21), urging the federal government to immediately engage in a nation-to-nation dialogue with the Mi’kmaq to clearly define their rights under the Marshal decision.

“Two months ago we called Canada out on their “racist actions and tactics” used to hold our Taaqwiihak fishers and negotiations back,” Tla-o-qui-aht lead negotiator Francis Frank said. “The inaction by the RCMP and DFO just proves that racism is alive and well within Canada’s institutes and its’ deplorable and unacceptable.”

-with files from Canadian Press



quinn.bender@blackpress.ca

Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse (the Jellyfish) removes oil from the ocean. The invention was one of 15 out of 700 inventions submitted to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Little Inventors contest. (Cole Schisler photo)
‘Little Inventors’ from Ladysmith showcased in national science challenge

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements were one of 15 finalists in the Little Inventors Challenge

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read