Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, supported by other First Nations, stand on the breakwater in Saulnierville, N.S., as non-indigenous boats protest the launch the Mi’kmaq self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, supported by other First Nations, stand on the breakwater in Saulnierville, N.S., as non-indigenous boats protest the launch the Mi’kmaq self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Draft fishery deal possibly a ‘historic recognition’ of treaty rights: Mi’kmaq chief

The chief said he’d like to get a deal finalized as soon as possible

A draft agreement between Ottawa and a Nova Scotia First Nation over a “moderate livelihood” fishery has the potential to be a historic recognition of Mi’kmaq treaty rights, the community’s chief said Sunday.

Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation said he is reviewing a draft memorandum of understanding he received from the office of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan late Friday.

He said the Sipekne’katik Treaty Fishery agreement would allow the Mi’kmaq community to legally sell their catch.

“It’s very significant,” Sack said in an interview. “It can help lift our people out of poverty.”

The community’s lawyers are going over the agreement and clarifying a few points to ensure nothing infringes on the treaty rights of future generations, he added.

But the chief said he’d like to get a deal finalized as soon as possible, noting that “these last couple of months have seemed like a lifetime to us.”

Indigenous fishers faced violence and vandalism earlier this fall after launching a rights-based fishery in southwest Nova Scotia.

Tension with non-Indigenous fishers ignited almost as soon as Mi’kmaq boats entered the St. Marys Bay area.

An escalating series of events ensued, leading to the destruction of a lobster pound that had housed the Indigenous fishers’ catch.

Other flareups included the cutting of Mi’kmaq lobster traps, warf-side gatherings of large crowds of protesters hurling racist insults at fishers, and the alleged torching of multiple vehicles.

The attacks prompted widespread condemnation and calls for clarification on Mi’kmaq treaty fishing rights.

Jane Deeks, press secretary for the Fisheries and Oceans Minister, said the federal government and the Sipekne’katik First Nation are continuing to work collaboratively towards an agreement.

“Our negotiations have been positive, constructive, and progress is being made,” she said in an email on Sunday. “While there is still more work ahead of us, we are making progress together.”

She confirmed that a draft memorandum of understanding is currently with Sipekne’katik First Nation.

“We share the same goals of a productive and sustainable fishery, and to further implement Sipekne’katik First Nation’s Treaty Rights,” Deeks added.

Meanwhile, Sack said the agreement follows through on the Supreme Court of Canada’s recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in its landmark 1999 Marshall decision.

The ruling affirmed the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish for a “moderate livelihood,” though the top court later clarified that the federal government could regulate the fishery for conservation and other limited purposes.

“This agreement has the potential to be a historic recognition of our treaty rights and to make good on the promise and legacy of Donald Marshall Junior’s work,” Sack said.

“The big part for us is making sure we can harvest and sell and it’s reflected in there.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia RCMP say man faces assault charges in violent clash at lobster pound

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

fishingIndigenous

Just Posted

Conner Gilkin, 5, shows of some of his newfound loot to buddy Jax Dul, 7, during the Lake Cowichan treasure hunt on Saturday, June 5. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)
Weekly hunt has Lake Cowichan digging for treasure

Gold? Silver? Candy? Andrew Braye has stashed away a range of prizes for eager treasure hunters

A new laundromat is opening in the Peters Centre in Lake Cowichan. (file photo)
Peters Centre getting all cleaned up

Laundromat being developed at the Neva Road site

Robert's column
Robert Barron column: Skyrocketing house prices a tragedy

North Cowichan councillor Rosalie Sawrie brought an interesting perspective to a discussion… Continue reading

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read