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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Montrose resident Kimba McLean has hiked Antenna Trail every day since October and counting. Photo: Jim Bailey
Montrose man makes daily trek up Antenna Trail

Kimba McLean put on more than 800-km hiking Antenna Trail every day for the past six months

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read