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Canada As Ottawa commits to protect treaty rights, Sipekne’katik chief says ‘actions speak louder than words’

01:20  20 october  2020
01:20  20 october  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

‘Terrorizing our people’: N.S. Mi’kmaw fishers have property vandalized, lobsters destroyed

  ‘Terrorizing our people’: N.S. Mi’kmaw fishers have property vandalized, lobsters destroyed On Tuesday night a facility was 'swarmed and vandalized' by commercial fishermen, said Chief Michael Sack of the Sipeknet'katik First Nation.The incidents, the latest in continuing tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia, allegedly occurred at two locations, one in Central West Pubnico, N.S., and the other in New Edinburgh, N.S.

" Actions speak louder than words ," he said . "Do your job…. Come here, protect us, and don't just tweet about it." The two raids in New Edinburgh and Sack suggested Sipekne ' katik may call on help from other First Nations in this dispute to " protect each other when the levels of government that are

" Actions speak louder than words ," he said . "Do your job…. Come here, protect us, and don't just tweet about it." The two raids in New Edinburgh and Sack suggested Sipekne ' katik may call on help from other First Nations in this dispute to " protect each other when the levels of government that are

The chief of the First Nation that has launched its own self-regulated lobster fishery and been the victim of multiple violent attacks in return said on Monday that he welcomed the words from four federal ministers, but that more was necessary to ensure their treaty rights are being protected.

a man standing next to a body of water: Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack speaks with Global News on Sept. 20, 2020. © Alexa MacLean/Global News Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack speaks with Global News on Sept. 20, 2020.

"Actions speak louder than words," said Chief Michael Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation on Monday.

At a joint press conference on Monday, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair condemned the violent attacks against Mi’kmaq lobster fishermen which culminated this weekend in a massive fire that burned a lobster compound to the ground.

'Do your job': Sipekne'katik chief calls on PM to protect Mi'kmaq fishermen

  'Do your job': Sipekne'katik chief calls on PM to protect Mi'kmaq fishermen Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claims provinces aren't taking advantage of federal government aid aimed at bolstering contact tracing efforts. Mike Le Couteur looks at who's not asking for help, and the barriers facing contact tracers.

Chief Michael Sack of the Sipekne ’ katik First Nation said in an interview Tuesday he wants the federal government to uphold treaty rights that protect Mi’kmaq fishermen and to prevent non-Indigenous fishers from interfering with their harvest. The long-standing dispute erupted over the weekend after

The action is what puts the meaning into the words said . I completely agree with the statement “ Actions speak louder than words .” In conclusion, actions carry more meaning and importance than what a person says . A person must hence, think twice before saying anything because words

“I want all Canadians to know we are taking these threats and the violence that has taken place very seriously,” said Blair.

“I know from experience when violence takes place, it can tear communities apart.”

Read more: Additional RCMP officers deployed in N.S

Blair also confirmed that he has approved a request from the province of Nova Scotia to call on RCMP officers from P.E.I. and New Brunswick in order to bolster the numbers able to respond to incidents of violence.

RCMP have been criticized for their officers appearing to stand by during confrontations between non-Indigenous fishers and the Mi'kmaq fishers, or only intervening when physical violence appeared imminent.

"It seems like the police officers standing there are just standing by. You're not there to protect anyone and that's stressful for our fishermen," said Sack at a press conference on Monday in Indian Brook, N.S.

Trudeau defends federal response as threats escalate over Mi'kmaw fishery in Nova Scotia

  Trudeau defends federal response as threats escalate over Mi'kmaw fishery in Nova Scotia Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the federal government's response to an escalating standoff over a Mi'kmaw fishery in Nova Scotia, saying Ottawa has been "extremely active" in trying to resolve the situation. Speaking to reporters Friday, he called for an end to the violence and harassment that has been on the rise over the past week in several fishing communities in the southwestern part of the province. "We are expecting the RCMP andSpeaking to reporters Friday, he called for an end to the violence and harassment that has been on the rise over the past week in several fishing communities in the southwestern part of the province.

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It was a statement that echoed comments made by Miller only hours before.

“Indigenous people have been let down by the police,” Miller said at the press conference.

Sack has been critical of the RCMP's response to the violence. On Monday, Sack welcomed the news that more police officers could be deployed if necessary, although he said numbers have increased over the weekend.

"There is more police presence on the ground. We're grateful for that as well," said Sack.

His main concern at this point is the ability for his fishermen to exercise their treaty rights.

"If (commercial fishermen) come back to haul gear our people are exposed," said Sack, referring to the repeated sabotage of Indigenous-laid lobster traps and buoys.

Read more: Mobs are attacking Indigenous fisheries in Nova Scotia. Here’s what’s going on

He insisted that fisheries officers need to be on the water as at the moment "there's been no presence there at all," Sack said.

Fire destroys lobster facility in southwest Nova Scotia amid escalating fishery tensions

  Fire destroys lobster facility in southwest Nova Scotia amid escalating fishery tensions A fire that police are calling suspicious destroyed a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., early Saturday. The blaze broke out at one of two facilities raided and vandalized by commercial fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia earlier this week protesting the "moderate livelihood" fishery launched by Sipekne'katik First Nation last month. Mi'kmaw fishers were storing their catches at the facilities. In a news release Saturday morning, the RCMP said they responded to the blaze at about midnight Saturday. Police say the fire is suspicious, and a man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries believed to be related to the fire.

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Video: Miller says 'space needs to be given for negotiations' among Indigenous communities after violent, tense Nova Scotia fishery incidents (Global News)

The chief said that although he was grateful for the condemnation of violence and the commitment to doing it better, it doesn't fix what's happened.

"You can't say sorry for something that already went down, you know what I mean? We could've lost people in that situation and 'sorry' doesn't save lives," Sack said.

Indigenous treaty rights

Both Miller and Jordan promised on Monday to uphold the right for Mi'kmaq to fish or hunt for a "moderate livelihood," a treaty right that was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada's 1999 Marshall decision.

Although moderate livelihood was not formally defined by the court, a subsequent decision ruled that the government did have the authority to impose some regulations for the purposes of conservation, subject to nation-to-nation consultations.

With no clear definition in the 21 years since the Marshall decision, the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its self-regulated moderate livelihood fishery in September.

'The world's watching': Mi'kmaw fishers use live broadcasts to combat violence and racism

  'The world's watching': Mi'kmaw fishers use live broadcasts to combat violence and racism The sister of a Mi'kmaw fisherman trapped in a building and attacked by a violent mob on Oct. 14 says social media and live streaming are crucial tools to combat racism and protect supporters of Mi'kmaw fishers and their new rights-based fishery in Nova Scotia. Jolene Marr, a fisher from Sipekne'katik First Nation, had already begun the nearly five-hour trip from her community to a lobster pound in New Edinburgh, N.S., to investigate a growing crowd of opposing, non-Indigenous fishery workers, when her car was redirected by a text from her brother. "It said, 'They have me surrounded,' and I gasped," she said.

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Non-Indigenous commercial fishermen have opposed that decision, arguing that it is a fishery operating outside of the federally regulated lobster season which they abide by.

The opposition to the Indigenous fishery came to a head last week when two lobster facilities, one in New Edinburgh, N.S., and one Middle West Pubnico, N.S., were swarmed and vandalized by crowds estimated to number as many as 200 people.

Commercial fishermen protest at fisheries office

Approximately 300 non-Indigenous commercial fishermen and their supporters gathered at a Department of Fisheries and Oceans office in Barrington Passage, N.S., early on Monday.

Ruth Inniss, a fisheries advisor with the Maritime Fishermen's Union, said that her organization condemns all forms of violence and they want to be "at the table" during negotiations between the federal government and First Nations.

"We’re also trying to fight the fact that we’re being portrayed as racist and treating the First Nations people savagely," said Inniss in a video call on Monday.

She said that the non-Indigenous fishers want to have a fishery that is governed by one set of rules and "not two sets of conservation rules for two different communities."

Innis said that "this is not just a fisheries issue" and that fishermen respect the First Nation's treaty rights.

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But it's those same rights that are enshrined in the Marhsall decision and which all four ministers committed to protecting on Monday.

Biologists have disputed that there should be conservation concerns over the moderate-livelihood fishery, which operates on a comparatively small scale to commercial fishermen.

On Monday, that assessment was echoed by the Fisheries Minister who said fishery stocks in the region are thriving.

Innis disputed that conservation isn't an issue, insisting that the reality on the ground is much different for those who live in the communities that rely on lobster fishing.

"There are seasons for a reason and that’s so fish can grow and you know multiply," she said.

"When you keep taking out the fish when that process is going on it’s a science issue."

READ MORE: Sipekne’katik Chief Michael Sack says his people receive threats ‘daily’

Sack said he believes the concern raised by commercial fishermen over conservation is over.

"(Minister Bernadette Jordan) said that the lobster stocks are strong. So, you know, that puts the conservation issue to rest."

With files from Global News' Amanda Connolly, Alicia Draus and Graeme Benjamin 

The RCMP have 'let down' Indigenous fishers facing violence in Nova Scotia: minister .
OTTAWA — The RCMP in Nova Scotia have failed to properly protect Indigenous people embroiled in an ugly dispute over lobster fishing, Canada's Indigenous services minister said Monday. Marc Miller was one of four federal cabinet ministers who took part in a news conference that followed a turbulent weekend in the southwestern corner of the province, where a lobster pound was burned to the ground and police accused one person of assaulting a Mi'kmaq leader and another of setting fire to a van owned by an Indigenous fisherman.

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