PBI-Canada expresses concern about shot fired at Mi’kmaq fisher and ongoing instances of violence in Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia
On October 21, people gathered on Parliament Hill across the street from the Prime Minister’s Office in support of the Mi’kmaq inherent and treaty right to fish.
On September 17, after 21 years of inaction by the Canadian government to provide a framework to implement the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling affirming the Treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq to fish for a “moderate livelihood”, the Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia issued a small number of licences to Mi’kmaq fishers.
On that day, CBC reported that the Sipekne’katik boats launched on St. Marys Bay were met on the water by non-Indigenous fishers.
Sakura Saunders described the situation: “Over 60 commercial fishery boats (including trawlers) rallied to intimidate 5 Mi’kmaq fishing boats with 50 traps each attempting to practice their treaty rights on the 21st anniversary of the Marshall Decision.”
By October 5, Justice Gruben tweeted: “Robert Syliboy’s (Mi’kmaq) boat has been destroyed @ Comeauville Wharf, 5 mins away from Saulnierville. In response to Moderate Livelihood lobster fishing. Tensions have not worn off, they are still high & Canada’s racism and refusal to step-in speaks volumes.”
Then on October 14, Agent NDN tweeted: “So I’ve just seen some live streams on FB showing what happened tonight. Settler fishermen raided the Mi’gmaw fishing compound. They cut the power; ransacked the buildings; poured chemicals on living lobsters; lit a van on fire; stole lobster traps; threw rocks; made threats.”
By October 17, a fire destroyed that lobster pound (building) used by Mi’kmaq fishers in the fishing village of Middle West Pubnico, Nova Scotia.
After that happened, Idle No More posted: “The violent actions of the commercial fishermen against Indigenous people is terrorist vigilantism. Mi’kmaq people have been threatened, physically attacked, fishing boats have been damaged, and lobster pounds have been destroyed.”
Their statement highlighted: “The inaction of the federal and provincial government and the RCMP to protect Mi’kmaq people is a violation of Indigenous inherent rights, Treaty rights, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.”
Then on December 13, Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul posted on Facebook: “Today – actually about 15 minutes ago a white male (3 of them actually) were seen pulling up our Netukulimk Fishing traps. Our fisher went out to see who it was. They SHOT at him!!! They were there with a rifle and shot at my community member!!! My fisher was alone.”
The following day CBC reported: “RCMP in Pictou County, N.S. have one person in custody after reports of shots fired Sunday in the area of Pictou Landing First Nation.”
For additional context, Vice recently reported: ‘There’s Death Threats’: Indigenous Fishers Nervous as Nova Scotia’s Commercial Lobster Season Opens.
The Burnt Church Crisis that followed the Supreme Court ruling in September 1999 is told in a feature-length National Film Board documentary by Alanis Obomsawin that can be watched online at: Is the Crown at war with us?