There has been a growing level of violence against Mi'kmaq fishing rights and their catches in the Atlantic provinces while the RCMP and Trudeau Liberal government do nothing to enforce their rights or stop the violence.
In a small warehouse on the southern tip of Nova Scotia, near Yarmouth, two indigenous fishermen found themselves trapped with nowhere to go when an angry mob raided the lobster pound where they had stored their catch. Jason Marr, one of the indigenous fishermen stuck inside, said he had moved his lobster there that evening, because he heard there might be a raid at another location. All was quiet at first, but soon he says he was surrounded by about 200 men. "They were pounding on the door, screaming obscenities, 'give us the lobster'!" he told the BBC.
There were also four non-indigenous men inside with them, who worked at the pound. The crowd cut the power and threw a rock through the window, while he called police, he says. "I didn't know if they wanted to kill me or whatnot... they said they were going to give us until midnight or they were going to burn us out."
Mr Marr says he saw men urinate on his car and slash his tires. The mayhem ended when police forced him to leave, he says, and he watched as the men stormed the pound and took his catch, as well as others. Just a few hours earlier, a similar raid had been carried out at a second location, where a car was burned. In both instances, police gathered outside but made no arrests. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they are still investigating.
This dispute is the latest in an escalating feud between Mi'kmaq fishermen and non-indigenous commercial fishermen that began when the Sipekne'katik First Nation launched its own fishery in September, during the off-season. Non-indigenous commercial fishermen say the fishery should be shut down, while indigenous fishermen say it is their constitutional right.
The roots of this discord go back over 250 years to the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1752, which promised Mi'kmaq the right to hunt and fish their lands and establish trade. For centuries, the treaty and others like it were ignored. But in 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling making it clear that the Mi'qmaq and Maliseet people had the right to not just sustain themselves by hunting and fishing, but to earn a "moderate livelihood", even in the off-season. The court defined "moderate livelihood" as a living that provided for "necessities" like food and shelter, but not the "accumulation of wealth". What that means practically was never addressed in the regulations, leaving a grey area that has yet to be resolved to this day. ...
For decades, the Mi'kmaq say the government has failed to enforce that ruling. So after several years of failed negotiations, they are coming up with their own solution.
Operating outside of the province's commercial lobster fishery, the Sipekne'katik First Nation plans to make their lobster fishery a test case, issuing just 11 licences, with the hopes of collecting data towards making the operation sustainable in the years to come.