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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Fraser Institute’s annual report card on B.C. elementary schools ranks schools across the province based on standardized tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fraser Institute delivers Greater Victoria elementary schools a mixed report card

The annual report card compares test scores of schools across the province

Parking fees at Thetis Lake Park will be going up at some point, but not without further discussion. Capital Regional District directors asked CRD staff to come back with alternatives, after hearing a proposal that would increase the $2.25 per day rate to $7 for 2021. (Google Maps)
Greater Victoria politicians ditch plan for $7 daily parking at Thetis Lake

Capital Regional District directors fear backlash from parks users

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Higher cannabis sales grew the income of Canadian farmers

Higher cannabis receipts added $1.7 billion to the revenue of farmers

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read