Tag Archives: Nova Scotia

A new current in the Nova Scotia lobster dispute – Local First Nation says Sipekne’katik did not consult them before launching

The ongoing dispute over Indigenous fishing rights in Nova Scotia has seen a new player emerge to add to the troubled waters. This time however, it might be seen as veiled criticism by one band of the actions of the other.,, The new player in the dispute is the local Bear River Mi’kmaw band who are actually the band closest to St Mary’s Bay in southwestern Nova Scotia. On the other hand, the Sipekne’katik who are at the heart of the dispute, are based over 250 km away in the central part of the province. >click to read< 14:30

Mi’kmaw band raises concerns about Sipekne’katik lobster fishery – In a letter sent to media and addressed to federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack and other Indigenous leaders, Bear River Chief Carol Dee Potter said her community has fished St. Marys Bay “since time immemorial,” but they’ve recently been disrupted. “Over the last few weeks, our fishers have been forced out of this area due to the ongoing dispute,” >click to read<

Moving Forward on Lobster Fishery Means Addressing Access and Conservation

In 1999, the Supreme Court’s Marshall decision recognized that Mi’kmaq First Nations have had, and continue to have, a treaty right to catch and sell fish. As a result, First Nations have been increasing their presence in the fishery over the past 20 years. Now, more than 20 years later, this remains a stumbling block, as new “moderate livelihood” Indigenous fisheries are emerging. Further, these new fisheries have another crucial angle – First Nations are developing their own fishery management and conservation plans, making this about Indigenous self-governance as well as about catching lobsters. Indeed, what we’re seeing unfolding off the coast of Nova Scotia touches on two themes that come up worldwide: who sets the rules for conservation of resources, and who has access to harvesting that resource. >click to read< 08:33

Mi’kmaw lobster fisherman in Nova Scotia says he plans to fight several fishery charges

Ashton Bernard, 30, says he was exercising his treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood when officers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans seized approximately 3,200 pounds of his lobster at the wharf in Pickney’s Point near Yarmouth, N.S. in Sept. 2019. “They took all of our lobsters. I don’t even know what they did with it,” Bernard explained. Bernard and his younger brother, Arden, were charged. Two other fishermen, Zachary Nicholas and Rayen Francis from Pictou Landing First Nation, were also charged. >click to read< 10:02

Lorne Gunter: Here’s the real back-story to the Maritimes lobster dispute

A 1999 Supreme Court decision, the Marshall decision, affirmed a supposed ancient treaty right to hunt and fish out of season. The only limitation the court placed on this apparently pre-existing right was that First Nations could earn only a “moderate livelihood” with their out-of-season activities. The problem now, we are told over and over, is the failure of the federal government over the intervening 20 years to negotiate a fisheries management framework that defines, limits and regulates “moderate livelihood.”  Twenty-one years ago, I covered the Marshall case,,, The Marshall decision was an example of judicial bias and pre-conceived judgement. >click to read< 07:55

Ottawa appoints special mediator in N.S. Indigenous lobster fisheries dispute

In a statement released late Friday, the government said former Nova Scotia MLA and cabinet minister Allister Surette will “communicate with and rebuild trust” between both sides in the weeks-long dispute that has turned violent in recent days. Surette was appointed by Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, who have both voiced Ottawa’s support for the Mi’kmaq fishers and the 1999 Marshal decision that their fishery is based on. “A peaceful resolution is achievable, and (Surette’s appointment) will strengthen our fisheries and our communities,” she added. >click to read< 09:41 From: Fisheries and Oceans Canada –  Biograghy, Allister Surette, >click to read<

For Acadian fisherman, early Mi’kmaq fishery in N.S. bay can ‘never’ be respected

As he stands calmly splicing anchor rope, Roger LeBlanc describes the anxiety, anger and suspicion over a Mi’kmaq lobster fishery that is coursing through his small Acadian community. The threat perceived by LeBlanc, 61, is the launch of a lobster fishery by Sipekne’katik First Nation in September,,, In the weeks that followed, Indigenous traps were cut, a boat burned, vehicles were destroyed, and one lobster pound that handles Indigenous catch was damaged while another was burned down. The actions by groups of up to 200 people have drawn condemnation from across party lines in Parliament. >click to read< 13:40

Company willing to buy Sipekne’katik lobster from open fishing area 35

Bruce Gidney of Gidney Fisheries in Digby made the offer in response to Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik, who has said buyers and suppliers won’t do business with the band amid ongoing tensions between Mi’kmaw and non-Indigenous commercial fishers. “The chief said no one was interested,” said Gidney. “We weren’t contacted and neither were other buyers I’ve talked to.” The Sipekne’katik band is sitting on 6,800 kilograms of lobster harvested by members under three commercial licences it holds in Lobster Fishing Area 35, or LFA 35. The commercial season opened there last week. It is the only area currently open to commercial fishing. >click to read< 08:45

‘Blacklisted:’ Nova Scotia First Nation pulls commercial lobster boats from the water

The chief of the First Nation behind a disputed moderate livelihood lobster fishery in Nova Scotia says recent vandalism and the loss of potential sales have cost the band more than $1.5 million — and he wants those responsible to be held accountable. Mike Sack, chief of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, also alleged the band had been blacklisted by lobster buyers. Sack later told reporters the band has filed an application for a court injunction aimed at preventing people from harassing Indigenous fishers at the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., where the livelihood fleet is based. The First Nation attracted national attention on Sept. 17 when it launched a “moderate livelihood” fishing fleet in St. Marys Bay in southwestern Nova Scotia, almost two months before the federally regulated fishing season was set to open.  >click to read< 08:29

Sipekne’katik seek injunction from Nova Scotia Supreme Court to end threats, interference in lobster fishery

The Sipekne’katik band is seeking a temporary court injunction to end blockades, interference and threats over its lobster fishing in southwest Nova Scotia. The band applied to Nova Scotia Supreme Court Wednesday for an injunction to prohibit anyone from trying to stop members from accessing two wharves in the region, in Saulnierville and Weymouth, and a lobster pound it uses in New Edinburgh. The band also seeks to end interference at sea, where it says traps have been damaged, destroyed or taken by non-Indigenous fishermen. >click to read< 14:01

Nova Scotia restaurants boycott lobster in response to violence – Steelworkers Union Calls for Resolution

Kourosh Rad, owner of Garden Food Bar and Lounge in Halifax, says he removed his popular lobster-based menu items in support of the province’s Mi’kmaq fishers. Matt Boyle, co-owner of Dear Friend bar in Dartmouth, N.S., removed lobster from his restaurant’s menu last month. “We wanted to remove the lobster roll as a sign of our solidarity but to also expedite conversations of peace or just spread some more awareness,” Boyle said in an interview Monday. >click to read<

Steelworkers Union Calls for Resolution to Lobster Fisheries Dispute – The United Steelworkers union (USW) calls on the federal government to find a resolution to the Nova Scotia lobster fisheries dispute that respects Indigenous treaty rights and ensures community safety. “The federal government cannot stand by as tensions and violence escalate. >click to read< 07:54

‘We are not racist’: Nova Scotia fishing communities call for action again from feds to resolve lobster fishing dispute

By daybreak, they numbered in the hundreds. Men and women from coastal communities throughout southwestern Nova Scotia gathered in the parking lot of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans building in Barrington Passage on Monday morning to once again ask for action from the federal government to resolve the ongoing lobster fishing dispute with Sipekne’katik First Nation. They also wanted to set the record straight. “We want to have dialogue. We need to have dialogue and that’s not happening. In my mind it’s the federal government that is painting us as racist and First Nations. That is not us. That is not on us. We want to be able to prosecute the fishery under the same rule of law.” >click to read< 16:54

Indigenous Services Minister says Mi’kmaw fishermen in Nova Scotia being ‘let down’ by police

“We must also recognize that once again, as evidenced by the scenes of violence, Indigenous people have been let down by the police, those who are sworn to protect them,” he told a news conference in Ottawa this morning.,, Miller was joined by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.,, The Sipekne’katik fishery operates outside the federally mandated commercial season. Commercial fishermen say they worry about its impact on lobster conservation, an argument Sack is trying to discredit. Colin Sproul,,, “The real gulf between Chief Sack’s position and mine is this: we respect and support Indigenous fishery access rights, which was ratified by the Marshall decision, but we respect the entire decision,” >click to read< 16:02

Cabinet ministers request emergency debate over Nova Scotia treaty dispute

Four cabinet ministers and the NDP have requested an emergency debate in the House of Commons over a treaty dispute between commercial fishermen and Mi’kmaq fishers. Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan says parliamentarians should have the opportunity to voice their concerns about the violence that’s erupted over the dispute about Mi’kmaq treaty rights to fish for a “moderate living.” She and three other ministers requested the debate in a letter to the House Speaker last night. >click to read< 08:24

Nova Scotia lobster pound fire called suspicious – man in hospital with life-threatening injuries

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. Tensions have been simmering for weeks in the province’s southwest, sparked by the launch of a moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne’katik band outside the federally mandated commercial season — 21 years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the case of Donald Marshall Jr. >click to read< 18:36

Lobster crisis. Is anyone at the helm?

Clearly, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan doesn’t suffer from NIMBY syndrome (Not In My Backyard). How do we know? Because she’s allowed fisheries tensions to escalate,,, To be fair, the issue has simmered for decades. A 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision reaffirmed the treaty rights of Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaw communities to a moderate livelihood fishery. Tempers have flared occasionally over the years, and none of Jordan’s predecessors had the courage to create an industry where the moderate livelihood fishery happened without opposition from commercial fishers. The minister needs to show leadership before someone gets seriously hurt, or worse. >click to read< 12:19

A fire destroyed a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., early Saturday

The blaze follows two raids by commercial fishermen on lobster pounds in southwest Nova Scotia earlier this week protesting the “moderate livelihood” fishery launched by Sipekne’katik First Nation last month. Eel Brook Fire Chief Jonathan LeBlanc told CBC News that fire crews responded to a fire at a “large commercial structure” at 1065 Highway 335 at around midnight. RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce confirmed that police were also at the scene. He said if the fire is deemed suspicious, police will investigate it alongside the fire marshal’s office. >click to read< 09:08

He had hoped to help end Nova Scotia fishery tensions, but now this union leader feels he just has to step down

It’s an ebb tide; in the afternoon sun in the Acadian fishing village of Meteghan, the Salt Shaker hangs low on the wharf. It seems appropriate. Comeau’s resignation has scuttled one of the few potential bright spots in a tumultuous week in southwestern Nova Scotia’s lobster fishery conflict; the hope that talks between him and Sipekne’katik chief, Mike Sack, might be the first steps towards a solution to the battle between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers.“ Now, the planned talks are dead, and the conflict that has torn the fishing community apart has no end in sight. >click to read< 08:18

 N.S. fishermen’s union head quits, says lobster dispute is ‘too much of a toll’ on his family – Joel Comeau says it’s no longer safe for him to be the president of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union Local 9 in Nova Scotia. Comeau stepped down Friday ahead of a planned meeting with Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack to discuss the increasingly tense dispute between commercial and Mi’kmaw lobster fishermen in the province. >click to read< 10:44

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

“We are expecting the RCMP and police services to do their jobs and keep people safe,” Trudeau said.  On Thursday, the chief of the Sipekne’katik First Nation urged Trudeau to step in and make sure those involved in the violence are prosecuted. The vice-president of a fishermen’s union in Nova Scotia has stepped down, citing fears for his family’s safety as threats from some non-Indigenous fishermen opposed to a self-regulated Mi’kmaw lobster fishery continue to escalate. Joel Comeau, a former member of the Local 9 of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, was supposed to meet with Sack on Friday morning but abruptly cancelled the meeting. Comeau said he’s received “a lot of flak from my people and a lot of intimidation” over his willingness to work with Sack to find a way forward. “This community is out of hand. This community feels unsafe,” said Comeau. >click to read< 16:00

Canada’s courts and governments have themselves to blame for the lobster fishery dispute

Imagine the reaction you’d have if you, a Canadian worker, in any field, were told by the courts and the government that you could earn only a “moderate livelihood.” Imagine that on top of this, you’re told that there is no definition of “moderate livelihood”, that it’ll be worked out over time. Your howls of protest would be loud and intense, and rightly so. Yet this is precisely what happened for the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet in Eastern Canada when the Supreme Court of Canada made its 1999 decision in the case of R. v. Marshall, ruling that the First Nations had a treaty right to fish for commercial purposes, but with a “moderate livelihood” restriction on that right. The Marshall ruling,,, >click to read< 16:12

Angry mob trap Mi’kmaw fishermen at a lobster pound in southwestern Nova Scotia

An angry mob of non-Indigenous lobster fishermen trapped two Mi’kmaw fishermen inside a lobster pound in southwestern Nova Scotia late Tuesday evening. According to Jason Marr, a Mi’kmaw lobster fisherman with the Sipekne’katik First Nation, N.S., the angry crowd also set fire to his van and threw rocks at the facility’s windows in West Pubnico while he and another fisherman, Randy Sack, were trapped inside. Marr said he fled to the lobster pound in West Pubnico Tuesday evening when he heard that a mob of non-Indigenous fishermen were heading to the wharf,,, >click to read< 09:30

Trudeau government rejects lobster quota system for commercial inshore fleet

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan issued a statement Friday after meeting with commercial fishermen the day before. “As confirmed in that meeting, there is no plan to move to a quota system for the commercial lobster fishery and it is not being considered,” Jordan said. For decades, conservation in the billion-dollar commercial lobster fishery has been maintained by limiting the number of licence holders and traps. Stocks throughout Nova Scotia lobster fishing areas are healthy.  Three Mikmaw parliamentarians have proposed the creation of an optional Atlantic First Nations fisheries authority to administer an Indigenous fishery. >click to read< 19:13

The lobster catch in St. Marys Bay is down, but there’s little consensus on why

DFO has released data showing a decrease in the amount of lobster caught between 2016 and 2018 in St. Marys Bay, the body of water at the centre of a disputed Mi’kmaw fishery in southwest Nova Scotia. Lobster landings in St. Marys Bay were 1,691 metric tonnes in the 2016-2017 season with a record high value of $25 million, according to data released to CBC News by the department. Two years later, landings were down 46 per cent by weight and 32 per cent by value. >click to read< 08:19

Mi’kmaw fishing vessel destroyed in suspicious fire at N.S. wharf

A suspicious fire at a southwestern Nova Scotia wharf has destroyed a boat belonging to a Mi’kmaw fisherman, casting doubt on his ability to join the upcoming commercial lobster season. Robert Syliboy woke up to a call from a friend early Monday, asking if he had a boat tied up at the Comeauville wharf in Digby County. When Syliboy replied that he did, the friend told him the vessel might be in flames. Photos soon confirmed the 12-metre boat was indeed Syliboy’s. >click to read< 18:53

Lobster Fishery at a crossroads

According to the book Truth and Conviction: Donald Marshall Jr. and the Mi’kmaq Quest for Justice, when Marshall was asked to produce his fishing licence he replied, “I don’t need a licence. I have the 1752 Treaty.” Using the lifetime pension he received as compensation from the wrongful conviction, Marshall decided to fight for his ancestral Treaty rights to hunt and fish, and eventually, after an expensive and lengthy court battle, in 1999 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in his favour. Marshall was acquitted on all the fishing charges, and the landmark ruling affirmed that the 1760 and 1761 Peace and Friendship Treaties with the British and Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act gave the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Peskotomuhkati people, a total of 34 First Nations in the Maritime provinces and the Gaspé region of Quebec, the right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood” from the resources of the land and waters. A subsequent Supreme Court clarification, known as Marshall II, stated that conservation-based regulations would still apply. >click to read< 08:59

Peaceful protest, peace offering in disputed First Nations lobster fishery

There were peaceful protests Friday in Nova Scotia by commercial fishermen, following a symbolic gesture of peace the day before between some commercial fishermen and the First Nations band at the centre of a disputed lobster fishery. Gordon Beaton, the president of Local 4 of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, said fishermen are worried where the fishery is headed.,, “We don’t argue the treaty,” said Beaton. “We’re not arguing the fishing rights that they have. They have a right to First Nations fishery, but we want the right to be executed in a way that’s sustainable for everybody.” >click to read< 16:09

Potlotek First Nation celebrates Treaty Day by launching its own rights-based lobster fishery

Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton marked Treaty Day this year by launching its own Mi’kmaq-regulated rights-based lobster fishery. The celebration in St. Peters Bay on Thursday drew about 100 people and comes just two weeks after another Mi’kmaw community began operating a similar fishery in southwest Nova Scotia. Wilbert Marshall, chief of Potlotek, said launching a fishery on Treaty Day underscores the importance of the Peace and Friendship Treaties that were signed many years ago and still matter today.  >click to read< 19:05

Mi’kmaw parliamentarians call for new body to deal with conflict over lobster fishery – Three Mi’kmaw parliamentarians are proposing a new approach to the conflict over the lobster fishery in Atlantic Canada that would bypass the system in use at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. >click to read<

As a fishing dispute in N.S. sees no swift end, ‘Peaceful and mutually beneficial coexistence is possible because it was once the norm here’

The fishery has always been essential to the inhabitants of what is known today as Nova Scotia, but a conflict has erupted over who benefits from the fishery, how much, and when. Ineffective governments have exacerbated the situation, no doubt, but historical amnesia has equally been a great abetter of ill feeling and a sower of confusion. Looking back might light part of the way toward a solution. We should begin with an observation that might seem counterintuitive in the present climate: contact and colonization were not at once and always an unmitigated disaster. >click to read< 11:44

Mi’kmaq push for legal lobster sales for non-Indigenous buyers

The Mi’kmaw community in Nova Scotia that recently launched its first self-regulated lobster fishery is now pushing the province to change laws restricting non-Indigenous fish buyers from doing business with the First Nation. Sipekne’katik First Nation introduced its Trade and Transport regulations today for Mi’kmaw fishers to legally sell seafood harvested under the right-based fishery to Mi’kmaw and non-Indigenous consumers and seafood wholesalers.,, While Sipekne’katik is willing to work with seafood buyers from the existing commercial fishing industry, Sack said, until an agreement is reached with governments, there are few places for Mi’kmaq to sell their lobster. >click to read< 19:59

Sipekne’katik First Nation to meet with Minister Bernadette Jordan next week

After multiple calls to meet with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation will sit down with Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan next week. Chief Michael Sack tells Global News the details of the meeting, to be held amid an ongoing dispute between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers, are still in the works, but he says it will be held virtually as Jordan is returning from Ottawa and will need to self-isolate for 14 days upon her arrival. video, >click to read< 19:11

Federal inaction drives lobster feud

A Coast Guard cutter and two helicopters (one RCMP, one DFO) provided little more than backdrop scenery to the boiling tensions on the Acadian shore Monday. Both the First Nations encamped behind a barricade at the Saulnierville Wharf and the predominantly Acadian local fishermen with their own roadblock at the Meteghan wharf 14 kilometres away called on the federal authorities to uphold the law. But whose law do they uphold? Successive federal fisheries ministers have kicked the issue down the election cycle by providing commercial licenses to First Nations bands without negotiating the Supreme Court of Canada acknowledged right of individual Mi’kmaq to make a moderate livelihood off of natural resources. The vacuum left by their inaction is being filled with threats, flares and rubber bullets. >click to read< 10:29