Indigenous fishermen in Canada are asserting their right to fish for a “moderate livelihood” outside of the regulated fishing season.
A leader of the indigenous community in eastern Canada once again calls for concrete action from the federal government after a lobster pound was destroyed overnight in the province of Nova Scotia on Saturday.
In a statement shared by APTN News, Mike Sack, chief of Sipekne’katik First Nation, said the fire on the lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, a small fishing village 270 km west of Halifax, shows “the need for a larger police presence in the area.”
Sack said the camp was “owned by a friend and ally of Sipekne’katik”.
“That should never have happened and those responsible should be brought to justice,” he said. “I’ll call the Prime Minister again [Justin] Trudeau and the RCMP (Federal Police) to provide the necessary resources for this region to keep everyone safe. “
That went too far. The crackle of fire woke us up. Middle West Pubnico tonight 🥺 #MikMaq #TreatyRights pic.twitter.com/62M6l5B8o3
– Pierrette dEntremont (@PAdEntremont) October 17, 2020
Nova Scotia RCMP said it is investigating the fire as “suspicious”.
“The fish factory was severely damaged, was not manned at the time, and no employees were injured. A man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries believed to be related to the fire,” police said in a statement on Saturday .
The past few weeks have seen tense clashes between commercial and indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia exercising their right to fish outside of the federally regulated Canadian fishing season.
The Mi’kmaw people have the right to fish for a “moderate livelihood” under Canada’s Constitution and the treaties signed with the British Crown in the 18th century.
Although this right was upheld by the Canadian Supreme Court in 1999, the court never defined what a “moderate living” means in practice.
RCMP officials are investigating the remains of a lobster pound that was destroyed in a fire in Nova Scotia [John Morris/Reuters]Sipekne’katik First Nation started its own moderate livelihood fishery last month for off-season harvesting, which sparked the ire of non-indigenous commercial fishermen in the province.
Last week a crowd of hundreds of non-indigenous fishermen surrounded indigenous fishermen, APTN News reported. A van was set on fire and hundreds of indigenous fishermen’s lobsters were destroyed in two separate incidents in the area.
A man was charged with an attack on Chief Sack on October 14, the RCMP also said on Saturday.
Police have been criticized for appearing ready during the violence against indigenous fishermen last week, while indigenous leaders across Canada have urged the Nova Scotia and federal governments to do more to protect the community People guarantee.
Canada’s Public Security Minister Bill Blair said he was “confident that the unacceptable acts of violence will be thoroughly investigated and that the perpetrators will be held accountable”.
“The threats, violence and intimidation must stop. We all need to recognize that a permanent solution to this dispute can only be achieved if it is based on the recognition of legitimate rights under the Mi’kmaw Treaty, “Blair said in a statement.
The recent violence in Nova Scotia is unacceptable and I strongly condemn it. pic.twitter.com/7sWOGXCcTq
– Bill Blair (@BillBlair) October 17, 2020