Indigenous fishing rights crisis: Queen’s intervention called for

Indigenous fishing rights crisis: Queen’s intervention called for
Indigenous fishing rights crisis: Queen’s intervention called for

Grand Chief Arthur Noskey and the chiefs of the First Nations covered by this treaty say that they are in solidarity with the Sipekne’katik First Nation, which in September launched its self-managed, off-season subsistence fishery. Non-native fishermen, for their part, claim that this fishing is illegal because it does not take place during periods determined by the federal government.

We are not going to let our Treaty partner, the British Crown, continue to ignore its obligations, wrote Grand Chief Noskey in a press release.

Treaty 8 partners request a meeting with the Queen of England to discuss the continued contempt and of lack of implementation of each of [leurs] respective treaties.

Arthur Noskey is due to make the official announcement at a press conference in Edmonton on Thursday.

The Grand Chief also calls on the Governor General of Canada and the lieutenant governors of the provinces to participate in this dialogue with the Queen.

The Indigenous leaders of Treaty 8 also hope that all First Nations covered by the 11 numbered treaties, made with the British Crown between 1871 and 1921, will support the Mi’kmaq in this conflict raging in the Maritimes.

For several weeks now, the federal government has been the target of much criticism, both from aboriginal fishermen and commercial fishermen. Both sides criticize Ottawa’s inaction in this conflict that escalated into violence last weekend.

Treaty No. 8 was signed between the British Crown and First Nations in the western part of the country on June 21, 1899. It covers a territory that includes part of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and of the Northwest Territories.

A conflict that is snowballing

Native fishermen in Nova Scotia on Wednesday obtained a temporary injunction that will allow them to continue to have access to the Saulnierville and Weymouth docks, as well as to a lobster tank in New Edinburgh.

This injunction request was initiated by the Sipekne’katik First Nation and was intended to put an end to the confrontations and threats that Mi’kmaq fishermen say they receive.

The right of Aboriginal people to a suitable subsistence fishery was recognized in the Marshall decision, rendered in 1999 by the Supreme Court of Canada.

An emergency debate on the heightened tensions in that part of the country took place earlier this week in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended and his government was the target of group fire from the opposition.

Elsewhere in Nova Scotia, the Poltotek First Nation has also started its own decent subsistence fishery. Other communities want to follow suit and exercise this treaty right, which the federal government has said it wants to uphold.

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