Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Tensions remain high over an Indigenous-led lobster fishery that has been the source of conflict with non-Indigenous fishermen. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Tensions remain high over an Indigenous-led lobster fishery that has been the source of conflict with non-Indigenous fishermen. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chief casts doubt on Ottawa’s bid to quell violence over lobster

Chief says he expressed his concerns to federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett

The First Nations chief behind a small but controversial fishing fleet trapping Nova Scotia lobster outside the regulated season is raising concerns about Ottawa’s latest bid to quell violent protests by non-Indigenous agitators.

Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation issued a brief statement today casting doubt on Ottawa’s decision Friday to appoint a “special representative” to mediate talks between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Sack says he and others he’s talked to are worried that Allister Surette, a university president and former politician from the area, lacks experience with Indigenous issues and may not have the capacity to be an neutral, third-party troubleshooter.

The chief says he expressed his concerns to federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett on Saturday.

He says Bennett confirmed that the talks led by Surette will have no impact on the nation-to-nation negotiations between the band and the federal government regarding the First Nation’s proposal to continue with a self-regulated lobster enterprise.

Most of the Mi’kmaq First Nations in Nova Scotia have argued they have a constitutionally protected right to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing where and when they want because the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that treaty right in a 1999 ruling that cited peace treaties signed by the Crown in the 1760s.

However, many non-Indigenous people involved in the province’s $1-billion lobster industry have argued the court’s decision also affirmed Ottawa’s right to regulate the industry to ensure conservation of the lobster stocks. And they have raised concerns that a growing “moderate livelihood” fishery could deplete the resource.

READ MORE: Parallels drawn between police action over B.C. pipeline fights, Mi’kmaq fishers

The Canadian Press


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