Green Leader Calls Out Feds In N.S. Fishing Dispute

Henrietta Strickland
October 19, 2020

Hundreds of people gathered in Halifax on Sunday afternoon to show their support for Sipekne'katik fishers and their "moderate livelihood" lobster fishery in the wake of ongoing tensions in the southwestern part of Nova Scotia.

In the latest incident in an escalating crisis over Indigenous fishing treaty rights, a suspicious fire early Saturday gutted a lobster pound in which Mi'kmaq fishers in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., had been storing their catches.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also spoke out on the situation by calling the violence against Indigenous fishers a form of domestic terrorism.

Eleanor Michael of Sipekne'katik First Nation told the crowd about waking up every day anxious about her nephew, who is a captain on one of the lobster boats now fishing for a "moderate livelihood".

Blair said investigative teams are now gathering evidence "to support any additional criminal charges necessary" and said provincial authorities will release further details as they become available.

"There's more (commercial fishermen) coming tonight from Pubnico and Yarmouth to drag our gear", said Larry Michael.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil took to social media to urge Ottawa to define what constitutes legal harvesting in a "moderate livelihood" fishery.

McNeil tweeted that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans needs to answer that question before the province can examine its own rules for fish buyers.

Commercial fishers raided lobster pounds last week in response to what they say is an illegal, out-of-season fishery by the Mi'kmaq.

"I have now approved a request from Nova Scotia's Attorney General to enhance the presence of contracted RCMP resources as needed in that jurisdiction in order to keep the peace", he added.

Nova Scotia RCMP say that a guy is now in hospital with life threatening injuries considered to be associated with a massive fire which ruined a half-dozen in northeastern Nova Scotia immediately.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is "appalled by the acts of violence, intimidation, and destruction taking place in Nova Scotia".

"The threats, violence and intimidation have to stop".

"The perpetrators will be held accountable", he said Saturday on Twitter, noting that Ottawa has approved the request to provide more policing support.

A Digby County man was charged on Friday after an assault on Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack Wednesday.

The development capped a week of rising tensions over Indigenous fishing treaty rights.

The treaty was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999, but some non-Indigenous critics point to a clarification issued by the court that says the treaty rights would be subject to federal regulations.

People carrying signs reading "We see through your racism" and "All eyes on Mi'kma'ki" stood together in Grand Parade, a downtown square, cheering the passionate speeches being made on the steps of city hall.

The non-Indigenous protesters oppose the band's decision to start a commercial lobster fishing business that has operated outside the federally regulated lobster season since mid-September.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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