Tag Archives: Sipekne’katik First Nation

More than 50 Indigenous fish harvesters in the Maritimes charged or on trial

Three years after a First Nation started a self-regulated lobster fishery that sparked protests and violence in Nova Scotia, federal prosecutors are pressing ahead with charges against dozens of Indigenous fishers, some of whom are planning constitutional challenges. On Sept. 17, 2020, the Sipekne’katik First Nation issued five lobster licences to its members, saying they could trap and sell their catch outside the federally regulated season.  The bold move came exactly 21 years after the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the treaty right of Indigenous groups in Eastern Canada to hunt and fish for a moderate livelihood, but interpretations of that landmark ruling remain in dispute. >>click to read<< 09:25

Nova Scotia fishers, Indigenous stakeholders call for more dialogue amid violence

As Nova Scotia RCMP continues to investigate violence on a wharf in St. Mary’s Bay, stakeholders on both sides are calling for more conversation instead of violence.  The Maritime Fishermen Union called on all levels of government, including fishers on both sides to get to the table. “Our largest concern is the conservation of the stock on St. Mary’s Bay,” Ruth Inniss, a fisheries adviser with the Maritime Fishermen Union, said. “We tried to bring all the players of the problem to the table to solve the problem. The problem clearly hasn’t been solved.” Video, >>click to read<< 09:04

‘Enforce the laws’: N.S. Liberals to feds, province on lobster dispute

As the conflict over Sipekne’katik’s moderate livelihood fishery once again heats up in St. Marys Bay, the provincial Liberal party has split from their federal counterparts. On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Zach Churchill called for the provincial government to start revoking the licences of any buyers found to be purchasing lobster caught without a licence issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). And he called out the federal government for a lack of enforcement of the Fisheries Act.  “We are talking about hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of lobster being landed illegally. There has to be a disincentive. … DFO also has to enforce the laws of the land which prohibit large-scale poaching.” >>click to read<< 12:34

RCMP investigate assault, theft from First Nation lobster harvester near Digby

RCMP in Digby, N.S., are looking for suspects in an alleged theft and assault of a lobster harvester from the Sipekne’katik First Nation earlier this month in St. Mary’s Bay. The Mounties say four people stole a crate full of lobster worth $400 from a boat at the Weymouth North wharf near Digby on Aug. 2. When confronted by the owner, a Sipekne’katik woman, they dumped the lobster into the water and allegedly threw the empty crate at the owner hitting her on the arm. The victim was uninjured. The details released by the RCMP match those in an incident described by Sipekne’katik harvester Sheyanne Francis and captured in a video by Indigenous broadcaster APTN. >>click to read<< 22:03

Sipekne’katik First Nation sues federal government for seizing lobster traps

The Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia is suing the federal government over treaty right infringement after officers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans seized lobster traps belonging to its band members. Sipenkne’katik alleges that DFO fishery officers hauled lobster traps belonging to two of its band members from waters in St. Mary’s Bay near Saulnierville, N.S. July 18-19. In a statement of claim that was filed at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on July 24, Sipekne’katik states that its members have a treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood which “means they have a right to sell the lobster they catch.” >click to read< 11:34

DFO says it has enough resources to monitor Indigenous lobster fishing in Nova Scotia

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) says its enforcement branch will be on the water and adequately equipped to monitor compliance of First Nations lobster fisheries this summer. The pledge follows the chaotic fishery for baby eels this spring where there was widespread illegal activity by some Indigenous and non-Indigenous harvesters. DFO shut down the legal elver fishery, affecting both commercial licence holders and Indigenous groups with fishing plans approved by the department. But “poaching”, as federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray called it, continued. “I want to clarify they are two very different fisheries,” Maritimes region director of conservation and protection Tim Kerr told reporters Monday in a briefing on Indigenous rights-based lobster fisheries. >click to read< 08:35

For Atlantic Canada, Fishing Season Brings Yet More Violence

In the early morning dark of April 12, 2023, violence erupted along a Nova Scotia riverbank after a man engaged a woman and a youth in a heated argument. Soon after, seven people arrived. One allegedly assaulted the man with a pipe while another stood nearby wielding a knife and a taser. When the RCMP later arrested two members of the group a short distance away, the officers found two shotguns and a taser. Conflict around elvers is not new, nor is it the only fishery in Atlantic Canada that’s seen so much turmoil. Whether it’s around elvers, lobsters, or something else, “this will continue to play out, and play out, and play out, until the government deals with the issues on the table.” >click to read< 08:05

Conflict over new Indigenous lobster fishery continues to smolder amid some progress

Federal conservation officers have seized more than 7,000 lobster traps in the two years since violence flared in Nova Scotia when a First Nation tried to assert a treaty right by fishing out of season. Earlier this month, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed it had confiscated almost 2,000 traps this year alone, a figure that shows the dispute between Ottawa and some Indigenous fishers has not gone away, despite DFO’s best efforts to keep a lid on tensions. Tim Kerr, DFO’s director of conservation and protection in the Maritimes, said the department has stepped up patrols in the region to ensure safety and compliance with the rules. >click to read< 12:00

Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters tell judge ‘they shouldn’t have charged us’

Three Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters wrapped up their defence Tuesday before a Digby, N.S., judge on charges they were fishing illegally in traditional waters. James Nevin, Logan Pierro-Howe and Leon Knockwood of Sipekne’Katik First Nation all pleaded not guilty. They were harvesting lobster to earn a moderate livelihood when they were charged four years ago for fishing without tags by officers of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Tags are issued by the federal government to keep track of the number of traps that go into the water. They also legislate how many lobsters can be caught. Mi’kmaw communities, including Sipekne’Katik, issue their own tags under their treaty fishery management plans. Video, >click to read< 08:08

DFO promises enforcement on ‘out of season’ indigenous moderate livelihood fishery

DFO warned two Nova Scotia First Nations this summer that unauthorized lobster fishing would result in enforcement. When the bands went fishing, enforcement ensued. Fishery officers from DFO’s conservation and protection branch seized traps, released thousands of lobsters and made arrests in separate actions involving fishing by members of the Sipekne’katik and Pictou Landing bands. In the case of Sipekne’katik, DFO spokesperson Barre Campbell said officials wrote to the band on July 5 and Aug. 31 to invite Sipekne’katik fisheries managers to discuss the possibility of “working together towards a moderate livelihood fishing plan that implements their treaty rights while ensuring conservation and sustainability of stocks under transparent and predictable management.” >click to read< 09:23

Moderate livelihood treaty right at centre of fishery trial in Nova Scotia

A trial involving three Mi’kmaw fishermen who say they were exercising their treaty right to fish for a living when they were charged with fishery offences is currently underway in Digby, N.S. James Nevin, 38, Logan Pierro-Howe, 24, and Leon Knockwood, 27, from the Sipekne’katik First Nation are each charged with four counts of violating the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licenses Regulations and the Atlantic Fishery Regulations under the Fisheries Act. They’re accused of fishing and catching lobster without authorization as well as possessing lobster traps that either had unauthorized tags or no tags on them. >click to read< 08:10

Mi’kmaw treaty lobster fishery launches, fisheries officers seize lobster and gear

Fisheries officers seized crates of lobster at Saulnierville wharf, harvested by Sipekne’katik First Nation fishermen. A few days earlier, Mi’kmaw fishermen dropped their lobster traps in St. Mary’s Bay under the band’s own lobster management plan. The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed that officers seized 82 crates containing approximately 6,000 lobster. Robert Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation says his gear was also seized – but he will keep fishing, A day before the treaty fishery launched, James Nevin, of Sipekene’kaitk was in Digby provincial court, defending his treaty rights to harvest lobster to earn a moderate livelihood. >click to read< 11:34

Removing DFO from Indigenous fishery negotiations an ‘integral’ step forward

Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation said the report, titled Peace on the Water, validates what he and his band have been saying about their right to fish since they launched a moderate livelihood fishery two years ago. The report calls for negotiations involving the Indigenous fishery to be handled by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, which Sack described as “the most integral” of the committee’s recommendations. “The treaty fishery model we presented over two years ago now is reinforced by each recommendation from the Senate,” Sack said in a statement. >click to read< 13:52

Canada responds to United Nations after Mi’kmaw treaty fishery complaint

Canada submitted its response last month to a United Nations committee after Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia asked the international body to investigate violence against Mi’kmaw fishers during the “moderate livelihood” lobster fishery in the fall of 2020. However, the federal Heritage Department, which is the lead agency handling the human rights reporting file, said Canada’s submission will remain confidential.  >click to read< 19:16

Mi’kmaw fisher won’t participate in restorative justice process

A plan by Crown prosecutors to put a restorative justice process in place for non-Indigenous fishermen accused of assault and arson will not include the Mi’kmaw fisher who was surrounded by a mob while he was inside a lobster pound. The Mi’kmaw fisherman who has not spoken to the media about the process has told the Crown he wants nothing to do with the process. Almost two years ago, lobster harvesters from Sipekne’katik First Nation exercised their treaty right to fish, launched their self-regulated fishery at Saulnierville wharf, in southwestern Nova Scotia. “It’s a double standard it’s unreal,” says Sipekne’kativ First Nation Chief Mike Sack. “I don’t even like using the word Canadian anymore.” Sack says he doesn’t believe justice will be served by going this route. Video, >click to read< 07:33

Restorative justice to be used in resolving charges in ransacking Nova Scotia lobster pound

Restorative justice is being used to help resolve a case involving 25 people accused of ransacking a Nova Scotia lobster pound at the centre of a dispute over Indigenous fishing rights. The Pubnico pound was storing lobster caught by members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, which angered commercial fishers because the harvest was conducted outside the federally regulated season. Reached for his reaction to Friday’s development, Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack expressed surprise and called the referral to restorative justice a “cop out” and a way for the accused to avoid consequences. Video, >click to read< 07:38

As lobster population booms off Canada, tensions rise between Indigenous and commercial fishermen

Under the close watch of federal officers on surrounding patrol vessels, Robert Sack navigated his old boat toward his clandestine traps in the cold waters that his people have fished for centuries, expecting to be arrested at any moment.,, Each trap had a special tag belonging to their band of the Indigenous Mi’kmaw people, who insist that a 269-year-old treaty grants them the right to fish when and how they want. But the government has rejected their assertion, and officers have seized their traps, confiscated their boats, and even arrested some of their fishermen. >click to read< 07>14

UFCA President Says Important Days Coming In Court

The group representing 2,000 commercial fishing stakeholders in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have been granted intervener status in several Indigenous court cases. The latest came in December in a notice of application brought forward by the Sipekne’katik First Nation to the Supreme Court of Canada. The band’s application is against the federal government, challenging their regulation and enforcement of Indigenous fisheries. UFCA President Colin Sproul says these are the most vital court cases since the Marshall Decision. He says the UFCA’s goal is to have one set of rules for all fishers, within established seasons, and they are committed to a peaceful solution with all parties involved. >click to read< More UFCA >click< 14:26

Nova Scotia: Prosecutors add charges for 25 in lobster pound riot

Prosecutors have added more charges against 25 people accused of entering and ransacking a Nova Scotia lobster pound at the centre of a dispute about an Indigenous self-regulated fishery. Crown lawyer Robert Kennedy, however, said in an interview Tuesday the prosecution is willing to discuss “resolutions” for “at least some” of the accused, which would avoid further court proceedings. In January 2021, the RCMP announced that 23 people were facing a charge of break and enter, with eight also charged with mischief, for their roles in the Oct. 14, 2020, incident at the facility in Middle West Pubnico, N.S. >click to read< 14:55

UFCA Granted Intervenor Status In Sipekne’katik Court Case

The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance has been granted intervenor status in another court case involving indigenous fisheries. They will be part of the Notice of Application brought by the Sipekne’katik First Nation against the Attorney General of Canada to challenge the regulation and enforcement of Indigenous fishing activities. UFCA President Colin Sproul discusses why it’s important for them to be involved. >click to read< 09:12

Sipekne’katik fisherman’s protest dumping of lobster ‘not acceptable,’ chief says

A Sipekne’katik First Nation fisherman who appears in a video showing him dumping crates of banded lobsters into Digby harbour has been rebuked by the band’s chief. In the video, Robert Syliboy objects to a new Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) compliance measure that marks the tail fins of lobster with a paper hole puncher. The hole punch aims to identify lobsters harvested under Indigenous food, social and ceremonial (FSC) licenses in St Mary’s Bay. The conditions of those licenses prevent the sale of the catch. In the video, Syliboy says DFO is harming the lobsters by punching holes in their tail fins. >click to read< 07:39

Sipekne’katik chief ‘optimistic’ about newly appointed fisheries minister

The chief of Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia says he’s looking forward to a clean slate with the newly appointed fisheries minister. MP Joyce Murray, who represents Vancouver Quadra, was named minister of fisheries and oceans when Justin Trudeau unveiled his new cabinet Tuesday.,, Mike Sack said since the federal election, he has been “waiting patiently” for Trudeau to name a new minister. He adds he plans to reach out to Murray soon for a one-on-one chat. >click to read< 10:33

A year ago violence erupted in the lobster fishery, “moderate livelihood” fishery status unresolved

One year ago, confrontation and violence upended the normally business-like commercial lobster season in St. Mary’s Bay and Lobster Fishing Area 35 in southwest Nova Scotia. Tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen in the bay had erupted in several dangerous boat-ramming incidents.,, But a full year later, as the wheels of justice turn ever so slowly, none of those charged have entered a plea. Before we examine how that happened, it’s worth noting some updates in the troubled fishery. >click to read< 10:07

The body of a missing fisherman was found off Yarmouth

The body of a missing fisherman has been found off the coast of Yarmouth, N.S. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre said the 52-year-old was found at 2 p.m. AT Friday by search and rescue personnel.  JRCC spokesperson Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Owens offered his condolences to the family, friends and community of the fisherman. The man was the captain of a fishing vessel identified as the Miss Janet, which was travelling from Shelburne to Saulnierville. The man’s identity has not been released at the request of his family. Our condolences. >click to read< 15:54

UPDATED: Search continues for 54-year-old missing fisherman off Yarmouth

Crews with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre are searching for a missing fisherman in the waters off southern Nova Scotia. The centre said they were notified at about 4 a.m. AT of a man who had gone overboard from a fishing vessel about 27 kilometres off the coast of Yarmouth, N.S. Lt. Cmdr. Brian Owens said there were initially four people on board the vessel. Three of them went to sleep, leaving the captain in the wheelhouse. The band office of the Sipekne’katik First Nation confirmed the missing man is a member of the community. Several fishermen from Sipekne’katik were out on the water assisting in the search Thursday. >click to read< 17:32

Sipekne’katik concerned about DFO punching holes in FSC lobsters

Fishery officers have been punching the small circular holes as part of a new compliance initiative to track lobsters that Fisheries and Oceans Canada say “will aid in protecting the integrity of the FSC fishery.” It’s illegal to sell lobster harvested under FSC tags. While DFO maintains that punching holes (like V-notch in Me.) in the lobsters’ tails doesn’t harm them, Shy Francis and Shannon Oliver-Sack said they’ve witnessed otherwise. “They said that they’re not doing any damage to these lobsters, but as soon as we pulled them up, it wasn’t long before they started dying on the boat and they were bleeding out,” >click to read< 08:48

Sipekne’katik First Nation’s lobster study to assess impact of summer and fall fishing

The boat, Mamma Ain’t Happy, is owned by Sipekne’katik First Nation and is fishing under food, social, and ceremonial (FSC) tags. The tags are the licence under which the lobster can legally be fished and allow the band to harvest it for those purposes but not to sell it. After each trip, the catch is brought back to the community for lobster giveaways that feed most of the families in the second-largest Mi’kmaw band in Nova Scotia.  But this boat doesn’t just fish for people’s supper. It’s also a data collection site for a study on lobster conservation. >click to read< 13:48

Mi’kmaw vow to keep fishing despite harassment from DFO officials

The crew of the Sadie C, a Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaw lobster boat was out on the bay exercising their treaty rights when it was surrounded by six zodiacs and one large coast guard vessel. The crew dropped ten traps, which the fisheries officers immediately seized. Marcel Marr, captain of the Sadie C, says he will keep fishing. “Someone’s got to stand here and fight the fight so it might as well be me if I want further generations or my children to participate in our aboriginal fisheries,” says Marr. >click to read< 19:54

DFO is responding to allegations from the Sipekne’katik First Nation

On Thursday, the band said they had lobster traps tagged ‘Food, Social and Ceremonial,’ confiscated by DFO officers in St. Mary’s Bay. DFO says of the 10 traps they seized that day, none had FSC tags, and no vessels were seized. The department says respectful, constructive dialogue is the best way to advance reconciliation, and implement rights-based fisheries. They say their officers take a progressive approach on the water, including education, issuing warnings and laying charges, while using discretion as they take situational factors into consideration. >click to read< 08:36

Arrested by the Feds! Chief Mike Sack busted “for promoting an illegal fishery.”

The chief of Sipekne’katik First Nation has been arrested by federal fisheries officers on the day the band’s new treaty fishery launched in southwest Nova Scotia. Chief Mike Sack was arrested on Monday, taken to the Meteghan fisheries office and later released. DFO has not provided details of why Sack was arrested, or whether he could face charges under fisheries legislation. ‘Why would you arrest me? I haven’t done anything here,'” he said. “It just seems to be all scare tactics for the fisheries, to try to stop what we have going on.”  >click to read< 15:59