Attacks on Mi'kmaq treaty fishing

Burnt Church - Federal boats assault treaty rights in
New Brunswick/Nova Scotia "lobster war." - Canada

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September 20 - 22, 2000
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September 22, 2000 ===========================

 

ESGENOOPETITJ (BURNT CHURCH)
FISHERY UNDER THREAT



Esgeno�petitj, New Brunswick
September 22, 2000


At 11:00am this morning [Friday] several hundred members of the First Nation (EFN) prayed at the shore of Miramichi Bay along with their supporters from across Canada. Community elders gave blessings and offered tobacco; the entire gathered assembly joined hands and sang the Mi'qmac honor song.

The prayer ceremony took place against a backdrop of potential violence. 11:00 am was the time that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) had set as the deadline for EFN fishers to have all of their lobster traps out of the water. Herb Dahliwal, head of the DFO, continued to threaten the use of force, insisting that the DFO would remove the traps if native fishers did not. The Canadian army has been put on standby and could raid or blockade the community at any time.

With the possibility of imminent violence here, the Esgeno�petitj community and elders have asked us to send this urgent action.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • The community is requesting volunteers to act as third party observers. The local gymnasium is being cleared for sleeping space and meals will be provided. If you can come, bring sleeping gear and any personal items you will need. For more info, contact the Esgeno�petitj (Burnt Church) CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams) at 1-506-779-5886
  • Contact the Canadian officials below and express your concern aboutthe excessive force that the DFO has been using and has threatened to use in this dispute. Let the officials know that you are following the situation and express your desire that it be resolved peacefully.
WHO TO CONTACT:
  • Ottawa Command Center
    613/993-4970
    ask for Burnt Church Fishery

  • Wayne Wouters, Deputy Minister of Fisheries
    tel 613/236-5265
    fax 506/773-5416

  • Jim Jones, Regional DFO Head
    tel - 506/773-5412
    fax - 606/851-9536

Christian Peacemaker Teams Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church), NB 506-779-5886, 506-776-0065



Toronto Community Mobilizes to Support Burnt Church First Nation



September 22, 2000

At a Public Prayer Vigil held in Toronto today, Cree Elder Vern Harper spoke of the power of prayer to a gathering of more than 50 people in front of the Native Canadian Centre.

Organized on 12 hours notice, non-Native and Aboriginal people came together because of deep apprehension about the rising tensions surrounding the Burnt Church Mi'kmaq community in New Brunswick. Organizers and participants brought many solidarity messages from individuals who are undertaking support actions across Canada - sending letters to Canadian government officials, travelling to New Brunswick, or taking time out today for some prayers and thoughts of support. From as far away as Chicago, it was reported that a protest is planned for tomorrow afternoon, September 23rd, in front of the Canadian Consulate.

Following the Mi'kmaq Honour Song by the Toronto Women's Drum and a traditional Cree prayer, several non-Aboriginal participants addressed the issue. An Acadienne woman spoke of the long history of friendship between her People and the Mi'kmaq People. She expressed deep sorrow that terrible, perhaps irreversible, damage is being caused by the cynical way the federal government has transmitted a deliberately distorted message about the Burnt Church fishery.

The Canadian Federation of Students pledged its ongoing support for the Mi'kmaq People's right to make a livelihood from the east coast fishery. CFS spokesperson, Pam Frache, commented, "No thinking person is fooled by the government's argument this is about conservation. Minister Dhaliwal's motivation is to protect the multinational corporations who are exploiting and destroying the fishery."

Toronto community members expressed a strong solidarity commitment for the Mi'kmaqs, and an announcement was made about a follow-up meeting at the Native Canadian Centre at 6 pm on Monday, September 25th. This meeting will plan further Burnt Church support actions.

The Prayer Vigil was organized by the Coalition for a Public Inquiry into Ipperwash (CPI), with the support of the Toronto Women's Drum and the Native Canadian Centre. CPI is gravely concerned that the events that occurred at Ipperwash, where non-violent Aboriginal Rights protestor Dudley George was fatally shot by police, could be repeated at Burnt Church. Of particular concern to CPI is the apparent impunity enjoyed by senior government officials who have been extensively implicated in the Ipperwash affair. This impunity appears to be seen, by federal fisheries and other officials, as license to similarly violate the human rights of the Mi'kmaq fishers who - also non-violently - are asserting their Aboriginal Rights.



MEDIA REFER: Ann Pohl, Coalition for a Public Inquiry, 416-537-3520

 



September 22, 2000

The Honorable Herb Dhaliwal
Minister of Fisheries & Oceans
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Minister,

As Chief of the Esgenoopetitj First Nation, I wish to attempt once again peaceful dialogue in addressing the dispute over the exercise of our fishing rights.

In the name of our men, women and children in accord with the pride of Canadians and of your government in peaceful resolution of conflict, I call upon you to hold off on enforcement action and sit down with me immediately and without pre-conditions. Enforcement will only deepen the gulf of distrust and make relations more difficult when we return to dialogue, as we inevitably must.

You are the Minister of the Crown charged with upholding our rights. Your relations with us are constitutionally required to be trustlike and not adversarial. I do not believe that Canadians and the international community will accept massive land and sea enforcement action against Aboriginal people when the Minister responsible has failed to even meet with the Aboriginal Chief.

I invoke and remind you of the solemn promises of the Crown to my ancestors in the Treaty of 1779 signed with the Mi�kmaq chiefs and captains of the Miramichi:

"That the said Indians and their constituents shall remain in the Districts before mentioned, Quiet and Free from any Molestation of His Majesty�s Troops or other Good subjects in their Hunting and Fishing. "

I ask you to look to your constitutional duties. Your conservation concerns can be addressed once the audited trap count is complete. Think of the children and future relations.

Chief Wilbur Dedam




Possible gunfire reported at Burnt Church



September 22, 2000
Canadian Press
globeandmail.com Web Centre


Ottawa - A gunshot may have been fired in the dispute over the native lobster fishery in Burnt Church, N.B., say government documents obtained by The Canadian Press.

"Latest reports indicate that at least one non-native boat has been in the Miramichi Bay area and that shots may have been fired," say briefing notes used by Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal in the House of Commons on Friday. "The RCMP is being alerted."

The briefing notes, used to prepare the minister for question period and to face reporters, said fisheries officers removed 113 untagged traps from the water Thursday night.

They said further efforts to remove tagged traps, which were ordered out of the water by 11 a.m. Friday, have been impeded by poor weather and sea conditions.

Mr. Dhaliwal never brought up the gunshots in the House — the information in the briefing notes came under the heading "Responsive Only."

"This is really an RCMP matter," Mr. Dhaliwal said in an interview. "I have not been briefed on it. The RCMP and the Solicitor-General are responsible for peace and order. So if there's any information, they would provide that. It wouldn't be the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans."

The documents also say the Maritime Fishermen's Union may have made its support of an agreement with Burnt Church natives "dependent on receiving $2.1-million in compensation."

The figure represents what non-native fishermen estimate they will lose in income in next spring's lobster fishery as a result of increased activity by natives, the documents say.

Mediator Bob Rae reportedly offered non-natives $10,000 to $12,000 each as compensation. He was turned down and left Burnt Church this week, saying the sides were too far apart.

Compensation was something the Mr. Rae discussed, not government officials.

"It's not something that DFO ever agreed upon or was ever agreed upon by me," Mr. Dhaliwal said.

Hundreds of people lined up along the shoreline on the reserve Friday morning, many holding flags with the symbols of bands from across Canada. The natives prayed and several men chanted a Mi'kmaq song. Several Mi'kmaq warriors were on the wharf, dressed in military fatigues and wearing handkerchiefs over their faces.

Along the shoreline, some of the natives were wearing traditional outfits and carrying eagle feathers, a sign of power and strength. Native lobster fishermen were also visible as they unloaded traps and picked out the lobster caught over the last few days.

"An independent audit conducted by the First Nation resulted in one untagged trap being pulled from the water," said the documents. "Enforcement efforts are underway to remove unauthorized traps. Enforcement operations are being conducted so as to avoid confrontation."

There were no details about what happened on the water.

The briefing documents, however, said: "We are aware of unconfirmed reports that one or more shots may have been fired. We will be making the RCMP aware of the reports."


Copyright 2000 | The Globe and Mail




Coon Come warns of growing anger



September 22, 2000
Canadian Press
globeandmail.com Web Centre


Prince Rupert, B.C.- The explosive fishing dispute in Burnt Church, N.B., is fuelling aboriginal anger across Canada, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations told British Columbia aboriginal leaders Thursday.

"I'd hate to see what could happen across this country," said Matthew Coon Come. "How long can we restrain our people?"

Aboriginals are witnessing Ottawa, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, trampling the constitutional and treaty rights of the Burnt Church native fishermen to catch lobster, he said. Mr. Coon Come suggested Ottawa will do the same thing to quell other aboriginal protests in Canada. "What happens in Burnt Church definitely affects all of us," he said.

B.C.'s First Nations Summit, the largest aboriginal organization in the province, is holding a three-day meeting in this north coast city.

"The federal government seems to be saying it has the right to ram our fishing and ranger's boats, thereby endangering our lives, threatening public peace," Mr. Coon Come said. "The Criminal Code says it's wrong. The Constitution says it's wrong. International laws of human rights say it's wrong. Common decency says it's wrong."

He told B.C. aboriginal leaders that Ottawa will take similar steps to end future attempts by natives to exercise their treaty or constitutional rights. "I don't think we can stand back any more and just sit and watch as billions of dollars are being extracted from our land," Mr. Coon Come said. "We truly are at the crossroads."

He said he would rather avoid confrontations, but aboriginals must stand together and fight against what is happening in Burnt Church. Mr. Coon Come suggested mounting international campaigns and boycotts designed to tarnish Canada's world image as a tolerant nation.

B.C.'s aboriginal leaders appeared to agree with Mr. Coon Come's call for unity on Burnt Church. Several said they supported national and international campaigns to bring more attention to aboriginal issues.


Copyright 2000 | The Globe and Mail


September 22, 2000 11:11
Tehaliwaskenhas-Bob Kennedy infocom@pro.net


CBC TV's Newsworld reports -- The RCMP say a shot has been fired from a Native boat at a non-native boat near Burnt Church in Miramichi Bay, New Brunswick. No-one was injured by the gun fire.



Four Days Four Ways September 22, 2000 11:35 From: Mary Alice Smith maryalic@voyageur.ca

Good morning,

Just to let you know what we're up to this morning. For those of you we haven't met, we are a small circle of First Nations, Metis and non-Aboriginal people, connected to Under A Northern Sky: Aboriginal Circle of Peacemaking and Justice, active since 1997 in Northwestern Ontario, and Manitoba. Some of us are graduates and faculty of Conflict Resolution Studies degree program at Menno Simons college/the University of Winnipeg. Many of us are actively working in community development in our own First Nations and urban communities.

A small delegation of people who are part of Under A Northern Sky - Al Hunter Jr., Sandra Indian, myself, Joe Morrison, Barbara Date, and a group of Elders (will let you know names later) will be attending the 'Grand Opening' of Robert Nault's constituency office here in Kenora this afternoon from 2-4 pm. We will take the attached press release with us, and also have arranged an appointment with the Minister for Sat. 9 a.m.

We have been been talking to each other and forwarding email which we've received through Al from the Midwest Treaty Network, AFN and the Ipperwash Coalition and others. We kept a 24 hr prayer vigil and fire going for Burnt church Tues. Sept 19- Wed. Sept 20. Al Hunter and partner Sandra Indian are departing Wpg Sat at 8:30 a.m. for Burnt Church to stay until Thurs., delivering messages of support from this area. We've been sharing ideas about how we could contribute to a peaceful and just outcome for people there.

There are some specific things we're doing that we invite others to contribute to:
  1. We've started a "peace work" quilt, with messages on pieces of cloth, to send with Al & Sandra, which others could add to along the way, or out there.
  2. Al & Sandra will also have a binder of email and other written messages to convey our support to the people of Burnt Church.

  3. We are encouraging Robert Nault, Minister of Indian Affairs (our local MP) to return to Burnt Church to be part of a circle of peacekeeping there; we are talking to Elders here about accompanying him.
  4. We will also forward names of people who would be willling to be part of a peacekeeping/dispute resolution resource group, to put their minds together to come up with a number of ways besides the limited ones (a sole mediator, enforcement, round table meetings) which the federal gov't listed when they said on the news last night they had tried "everything" using the "carrot & stick". We know there are at least four different ways (probably a 100) in which any conflict can be responded to creatively.

  5. We are also wondering about a Four Days - Four Ways national campaign (starting today at 11 est, the time that the fed gov't ultimatum is up) as follows:

          Day I , Fri., Sept 22, 11 am - Sat ll am - VISION - encourage people to put out a call to Elders, gov'ts, Chiefs & community leaders, churches, unions for vision and leadership

          Day II , Sat 11 am - Sun 11 am - GETTING TOGETHER - people get together in various ways and numbers, as few as four or more, to share information and ideas; invite speakers, resource people. For resource material we suggest widespread distribution of a collection of 4 recent insightful, well-researched articles such as transcript of Mercredi's interview on As It Happens last night; Boyce Richardson's article; Midwest Treaty Network letter to G&M - "Burnt church learn from us" and one by Parker Bass Donham.

          Day III , Sun 11 am - Monday 11 am - REFLECTION prayer, reflection on what has been learned, inspiration; Elders, spiritual leaders, faith groups, churches could play a leading role in issuing a call for this

          Day IV, Monday 11 am - Tues 11 am - ACTION people act with purpose in whatever ways they've been called to, to support or contribute to resolution efforts.

We welcome responses and continued flow of information, ideas.


Miigwech

Mary Alice Smith
Al Hunter
Barbara Date

Under A Northern Sky Aboriginal Circle of Peacemaking & Justice

 

 

September 22, 2000

The deadline for the Mi'kmaq in New Brunswick to submit to federal demands was 9 CST am today. Armed federal forces have moved in to take out tribal lobster traps, despite last year's Supreme Court ruling upholding Mi'kmaq treaty rights.

A support rally is scheduled for Saturday 10 am at the Canadian consulate in Chicago. The consulate officials already knew who Midwest Treaty Network was from our pro-treaty commentary in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and had visited our website. They are very concerned that Americans are following the issue.

Please call the consulate immediately at 312-616-1860 to urge a peaceful resolution of the crisis and a recognition of Mi'kmaq treaty rights. The Minneapolis consulate is (612.) 333-4641.

Thanks!




Jourdain to send delegation to Burnt Church



September 18th, 2000
By June Bland
Kenora Miner and Daily News
News Staff (Northern Ontario)


Grand Chief Leon Jourdain of Grand Council Treaty 3 believes the possibility of a Burnt Church incident occurring in the Treaty 3 area is all too real and he is sending a delegation of members of the Ojibway Ogichiitag Society to support the citizens of Burnt Church in their struggle to protect aboriginal and treaty rights.

The Ogichiitag Society is little known outside Ojibway circles. The society is a warrior society in its purest form. "The Ogichiitag Society and specifically these men are not warriors in the present day 'bastardized' context; they endeavour to live as traditional Ojibway men, which implies pride, traditional values, assertiveness, respect, policing, protection and honour," said Jourdain. They are not aggressive or violent, but rather are strong and honourable.

In dispatching the members of the society to Burnt Church, Jourdain said in a letter to Burnt Church Chief Wilbur Dedam, "I am confident you can count on them to assist your efforts responsibly."

Jourdain expressed his admiration and respect for the efforts of the Burnt Church community in their bid to have court decisions upheld, and their defence of aboriginal and treaty rights.

In his letter to Dedam, Jourdain added, "These Ogichiitag men will place themselves at your disposal, to assist your efforts in any way that you see fit. In the event they are asked to participate in activity that is not consistent with our traditional teachings, they have been instructed to politely refuse. I am confident that you will not ask of them what they cannot complete."

Jourdain wrote that the goal of Treaty 3's grand council is to support the efforts of the Burnt Church community, and to defend treaty and aboriginal rights in a respectful but firm manner consistent with the teachings of Ojibway elders.

He said he felt some action was required to demonstrate that Treaty 3 leadership condemns the government's heavy-handed unilateral action, and the misleading spin they are putting on the dispute. Jourdain questions the government's portrayal of aboriginal lobster fishing as a conservation issue, saying Burnt Church has adopted a strict conservation and management plan which accounts for less than one per cent of the total fishery.

"The possibility of a Burnt Church in Treaty 3 is all too real, government refusal to acknowledge what the courts have determined - that treaty rights exist and must be respected - is cause for increasing frustration. We cannot continue to have pockets of poverty and third world living conditions in resource rich areas," said Jourdain.

He would not say how long the Ogichiitag Society would be expected to remain in Burnt Church, but suggested that their role will be to help the citizens of that community to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

Jourdain said he has some hope for a mediated settlement due to the appointment of Bob Rae, Ontario's one time premier, as mediator.



Update


September 22, 2000

Federal Fisheries officers began pulling lobster traps out of Miramichi Bay, New Brunswick late last night even before the government's deadline of 11 a.m. Atlantic time today. Native fishermen are out fishing again and the school at Burnt Church is closed in a community concerned and fearful of more violence. - First Nations across the country are calling for prayers in the wake of Canada's latest raid and the likelihood of more military tactics. - Prayer gatherings are being held in various places including at the Native Canadian Centre in Toronto. This is an international issue now.

A rally is planned for Chicago and in various U.S. cities the Canadian consulates are being targetted with protest calls and faxes. --- The federal court has rejected the Indian Brook First Nation's efforts to halt Federal Fisheries from seizing Native lobster traps. --- National Chief says Aboriginal people across the country are watching the east coast closely. To avoid similar occurences in BC he said the status quo is unacceptable and calls for new incentives to bring progress to the stalled BC Treaty Process. Matthew Coon Come says Canada's must get rid of its extinguishment of aboriginal rights policy. --- The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has reaffirmed its support and launched an emergency fundraising campaign to support the Mi'kmaq. --- Several grand chiefs from Manitoba are in Burnt Church to provide support.

Federal Fisheries officers began to pull lobster traps from Miramichi Bay even before the deadline arrived that was set by the Minister. They weren't supposed to start their raid until eleven o'clock this morning but they started late last night to pull traps out of the water. Despite that, Native fishermen from Burnt Church began fishing again and the Chief and Council refused to give in to government demands they pull out their traps. One sign of the concerns and fears in the community of the potential for more violence - the school at Burnt Church is closed.

First Nations across the country are calling for prayers in the wake of Canada's latest strategy and the likelihood of more military tactics. Canada's Minister of Fisheries has delivered a 24 hour ultimatum to the Burnt Church First Nation - get all the lobster traps out of Miramichi Bay or else. Prayer gatherings will be held in various places including Burnt Church and Toronto and a rally is planned for Chicago. In various U.S. cities Canadian consulates are being targetted with protest calls and faxes.

The federal court has rejected the Indian Brook First Nation's efforts to halt Federal Fisheries from seizing Native lobster traps. The National Chief says Aboriginal people across the country are watching the east coast closely. To avoid similar occurences in BC he said the status quo is unacceptable and calls for new incentives to bring progress to the stalled BC Treaty Process. Matthew Coon Come says Canada's must get rid of its extinguishment of aboriginal rights policy. --- The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has reaffirmed its support and launched an emergency fundraising campaign to support the Mi'kmaq. --- Several grand chiefs from Manitoba are in Burnt Church to provide support.


Turtle Island Native Network, Aboriginal News & Information
http://www.turtleisland.org, E-mail: infocom@pro.net





September 22, 2000

BURNT CHURCH SUPPORT
PUBLIC PRAYER VIGIL TODAY

Friday
September 22, 2000 ~ 10 - 11:30 AM
NATIVE CANADIAN CENTRE

16 Spadina Road, 1/2 block north of Bloor Street West


Yesterday, the People of Burnt Church (Esgenoopetitj) informed their national and international support network that they expect a Canadian government assault on their community members at any time. They have identified a high possibility of this assault occurring at 11 am today, which is the deadline set out by Minister Dhaliwal in his ultimatum to them to stop fishing. They will hold a Public Prayer Vigil on the Burnt Church wharf at that time, and ask Canadians and Aboriginal Peoples across the country to join them in this act.

With the events at Ipperwash Park STILL unresolved, it is clear that Canadian authorities enjoy an unjust impunity when they launch violent assaults on non-violent Aboriginal Rights activists. This has been happening on the Miramichi Bay waters for the past weeks. Today's Prayer Vigil in an act of solidarity. We hope that community support can save lives. People who cannot join the Vigil on such short notice will be taking a few moments for prayer at 11 a.m.

At 10:00 pm last night, the AFN released a statement clarifying the First Nation's and mediator Bob Rae's positions with regards to continuing negotiations, and contradicting mass media reports and comments by Minister Dhaliwal. The AFN released comments by Rae, stating his position that he is willing to continue the mediation process "if both parties agree".

The Chief of the Burnt Church First Nations, Wilbur Dedam, responded to Rae's statement, "I remain committed to work with the mediator and the government. The community is also supportive of the process. The government must now show that they want to work to a peaceful resolution," said Chief Dedam.

"The mediation process is the only possible peaceful solution at this point," said AFN National Chief Coon Come. "In every instance where an understanding was established between the parties, the federal government has been the party to break the agreement. I urge the government to enter the process and to give it a chance to make it work. That has yet to happen."

If there is a raid tomorrow on the community, then the government will have shown that it has no intention or desire to find a peaceful solution. Does 'the war against the Indians' continue?


This message sent by the Coalition for a Public Inquiry into Ipperwash: 416-537-3520
For information on Vigil, call the Native Canadian Centre at 416-964-9087
AFN (Jean LaRose): (613) 241-6789x251; (613) 795-9664 (cell); (613) 834-1481

 

 

National chief warns of growing aboriginal anger
over Burnt Church



DIRK MEISSNER
September 22, 2000

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. (CP) - The explosive fishing dispute in Burnt Church, N.B., is fuelling aboriginal anger across Canada, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations told British Columbia aboriginal leaders Thursday.

"I'd hate to see what could happen across this country," said Matthew Coon Come. "How long can we restrain our people?" Aboriginals are witnessing the federal government, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, trampling the constitutional and treaty rights of the Burnt Church native fishermen to catch lobster, he said.

Coon Come suggested Ottawa will do the same thing to quell other aboriginal protests in Canada. "What happens in Burnt Church definitely affects all of us," he said.

B.C.'s First Nations Summit, the largest aboriginal organization in the province, is holding a three-day meeting in this north coast city.

B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh addressed the leaders after Coon Come, but focused his remarks on treaty-making in the province. "The B.C. government continues to believe that success in the current treaty process is critical to long-term stability in this province," he said. "My government believes treaties are a matter of social justice."

The Burnt Church area has been the scene of violent and verbal confrontations between aboriginals and DFO officers, who have been removing lobster traps.

An attempt at reaching a mediated solution ended in failure.

"The federal government seems to be saying it has the right to ram our fishing and ranger's boats, thereby endangering our lives, threatening public peace," Coon Come said. "The Criminal Code says it's wrong. The Constitution says it's wrong. International laws of human rights say it's wrong. Common decency says it's wrong."

He told B.C. aboriginal leaders that Ottawa will take similar steps to end future attempts by natives to exercise their treaty or constitutional rights. "I don't think we can stand back any more and just sit and watch as billions of dollars are being extracted from our land," Coon Come said. "We truly are at the crossroads."

He said he would rather avoid confrontations, but aboriginals must stand together and fight against what is happening in Burnt Church. Coon Come suggested mounting international campaigns and boycotts designed to tarnish Canada's world image as a tolerant nation. "It's not just about blocking roads," he said.

B.C.'s aboriginal leaders appeared to agree with Coon Come's call for unity on Burnt Church. Several said they supported national and international campaigns to bring more attention to aboriginal issues.

Most leaders told Coon Come they were concerned about the slow pace of treaty talks in British Columbia with provincial and federal negotiators.

There are few treaties in British Columbia and many aboriginal groups are voicing frustration about their inability to resolve longstanding disputes with government.

"As we sit here, the First Nations Summit has a war council set up," said Richard Watts, a Vancouver Island aboriginal leader. The summit is looking at ways to speed up the treaty negotiation process and some of its plans include public protests, he said. "I think direct action is probably one of the last ways of doing it," Watts said.

Dosanjh told the aboriginals there is perhaps six months left in his government's current mandate and now is the time to make progress on treaties. "We have to be realistic, this government has a limited amount of time left in its mandate," he said. "Either we work together to make progress now or we miss an opportunity which may not come again for a generation."

Dosanjh, who hinted at a fall election last week, said he was not conceding defeat when he suggested the treaty process needs to move forward quickly or face a possible lengthy delay.

He must call an election by June 2001. Dosanjh is leading an NDP government struggling to stay above 20 per cent in the public opinion polls. The Opposition Liberals, harsh critics of the treaty process, are hovering near 50 per cent.

Grand Chief Edward John, a summit leader, joked about a bad political wind on the horizon, but warned that aboriginal people were not about to sign away their futures to meet a political time line. "Justice in our time, that's what we are looking for," he said. "We cannot abandon that for the sake of a real estate deal."

He said the eight treaty offers made by the federal and provincial governments to B.C. aboriginal nations have all been rejected.


September 21, 2000 ===========================

 

!!! URGENT ALERT !!!

An attack is imminent on a native Community in new brunswick. People in the midwestern u.s. should Immediately call the canadian consulate In chicago at (312) 616-1860, asking that No armed action be taken against the Mi'kmaq, and their treaty rights be Respected.

**This Canadian situation, along with two similar crises in Colombian indigenous nations, will be discussed Friday at noon on WORT's A Public Affair, 89.9 fm in Madison, WI** Background on the Mi'kmaq treaty crisis at http://treaty.indigneousnative.org/mi'kmaq.html and http://www.treatyland.com

September 21 - 2000
From: JLaRose JLarose@AFN.CA To: "Wilhelmina Nolan (E-mail)" willi@web.net

Reaction to possible confrontation in Burnt Church

The AFN has issued the following statement tonight at 22:00 hours.

Contrary to media reports and the statement by Minister Dhaliwal in the Commons today, the mediator, the Honourable Bob Rae, has not "quit" and is willing to continue the mediation process "if both parties agree".

Burnt Church has agreed.

We are awaiting the response from the Minister. If there is a raid tomorrow on the community, then the government will have shown us that it wasn't serious in finding a solution.

Thanks.

Jean LaRose
Media Relations / Relations avec les m�dias
Assembly of First Nations / Assembl�e des Premi�res Nations


Dear Friends,

This notice asks for prayers at 11:00 am EST today, when another awful raid is expected; please pass it along.

Last month, about a week after I wrote my first press release asking for prayers for Esgenoopetitj, Nina, one of the CPT observers came to tell me, "You keep asking for those prayers, I think it's working! I believe this too, especially since more of us are asking for prayers now. Those of you who would rather think "positive thoughts" can do this, it will help too.

Thank you for your continued support.   Willi



September 21, 2000 1:18 PM
From: JLaRose JLarose@AFN.CA
To: "Wilhelmina Nolan (E-mail)" willi@web.net
From:aboriginal rights coalition arc@istar.ca


Burnt Church expects morning raid

Dear Friends,

The following message from ARC Atlantic member Judy Loo explains that observers in Esgenoopetitj expect a morning raid by government officials. Please do all you can to help. Let me know if you need more information.


Sept, 21, 2000 16:38:59

I just received a call from Brigid, one of the observers in Esgenoopetitj. She says that people expect a raid tomorrow morning, on the basis of Dhaliwal's press conference, and probably other information. They do not, at this point, expect the non-native fishers to come into the bay cutting traps.

There are three boats from the community in the bay as I write this, doing a count. An Observer and a Christian Peacemaker Teams member are on the boats along with three independent observers, including Brian Atkinson, a member of our Oxfam group and a former accompanier in Guatemala, who is also a photo journalist. The RCMP apparently declined to participate in the count after saying all along that they would.

The community is planning a prayer vigil tomorrow. They ask for our prayers too, particularly around 11:00 when they expect the raid to occur. 200 Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people are coming from Manitoba and are expected to be present in the community tomorrow, along with many other supporters from various locations. They are hoping that there will not be a confrontation on the water - instead they plan to pray.

I have been asked by Karen Sommerville, the spokeperson for the fishing issue in Esgenoopetitj, to ask you to organize public prayer vigils around 11:00 tomorrow morning, if possible. Please share this information in any way you want to.

Peace,   Judy





HELP!! Burnt Church Situation Worsens



Sept. 21, 2000 11:10:49
Willi Nolan willi@web.net


Dear Friends,

Please respond immediately to this plea for help to stop increasing militaristic attacks from the Canadian government on the people of Esgenoopetitj/Burnt Church, NB. The writer chose not to mention the increasing threat of extreme violence from non-native fishers (a number of Esgenoopetitj residents and Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) observers have already suffered violence from non-native fishers and Dept of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) staff!); please understand that this possibility is imminent. For your convenience, I attach a copy of my letter to my own MP, Angela Vautour, at the end of this message.

I suggest that, in addition to Prime Minister Chretien, Ministers Dhaliwal and Nault and Wouters, that you contact your own elected representatives and leaders of any religious organizations that you can make contact with, and demand their immediate action to demand that Canada stops these "enforcement actions". I am currently working with the United Church of Canada and the Inter Faith Council of Halifax to organize Inter-Faith Prayer Gatherings (and media coverage for same) to seek peace and cooperation between government and First Nations, and most especially, to encourage dialogue between First Nations and non-native fishers in their dangerous positions as pawns behind a smokescreen of corporate interests.

After working with this crisis for a while now, I am convinced that unless the Canadian government is embarrased into it via a deluge of national and international protest, that they will continue to deny that their activities are contrary to the law and morality.

Your continued support is gratefully acknowledged and critical at this time.


    Respectfully,

      Willi Nolan

       


       

Honourable Robert Nault
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Dear Mr. Nault;

I am writing to express the concerns of our organisation over the failure of the federal government to adequately protect aboriginal fishers who are exercising their treaty rights in Burnt Church, New Brunswick.

The Burnt Church first nation is trapping lobster as per their right defined by the Marshall decision last year. However, since that decision, there has been a blatantly racist outpouring against aboriginal fishers exercising their rights.

The false argument has been raised that somehow the issues at stake are those of balancing environmental concerns with those of first nations fishing rights. Nothing could be more false. The aboriginal fishery comprises less than one percent of the entire commercial lobster haul. If there is anything jeopardising the long-term viability of the lobster fisheries, it is not aboriginal fishers, but rather the commercial fisheries.

In the same way that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans failed to protect the cod fishery, despite warnings from its own department, so has the department failed to protect the lobster fishery. Now, however, it is convenient to use aboriginal fishers as the scapegoat for the government's own mismanagement.

Our organisation urges you to intervene to ensure that aboriginal treaty rights are respected allowing first nations fishers full access to lobster fishing. We call on you to ask your government to stop scapegoating the Burnt Church first nation and to stand up against the racist attacks unleashed by your government's attempt to mitigate the Marshal decision.

    Sincerely,

      Pam Frache Ontario Campaigns and Government Relations Coordinator Canadian Federation of Students





RCMP, DFO AND POSSIBLY MILITARY
MOVE IN ON BURNT CHURCH



From: Kwegsi (Lloyd Augustine) kwegsi@nbnet.nb.ca
Willi Nolan willi@web.net
Sept. 21, 2000 01:21:19


A joint force of RCMP and Department of Fisheries officers with Department of Defense military backup are closing in on Burnt Church tonight according to The Assembly of First Nations, Media Relations person, Jean Larose. In a short conversation, Larose said the AFN can't verify the number of forces being sent to Burnt Church but the Band members have indicated they are moving down to the water to protect their traps and boats.

The following email from the Assembly of First Nations Media office requesting phone calls and assistance to prevent a large scale para-military style federal enforcement intervention in the Mic Mac Fishery on Miramichi Bay at the Burnt Church First Nation. I quote below:

We have just learned that the situation in Burnt Church has deteriorated. The federal government has refused to discuss any of the issues notwithstanding the goodwill displayed by the community to make the mediation process work.

 


September 20, 2000 ===========================

 

URGENT - HELP NEEDED - URGENT

September 20, 2000


TO: ALL ALLIES
FROM: Coalition for a Public Inquiry into Ipperwash

The Coalition has just recieved a emergency call for support from the AFN re: Burnt Church.

From the vantage point of our work in the Ipperwash Coalition we know too well that this can have a tragic ending that will have repercussions for many years to come.

I have attempted the calls they request (see below). The P.M.'s line does not answer at night; I left messages at the #'s given for Dhaliwal and Nault, and the number for Wayne Wouters (as I discovered!) is his home - so I got to speak with him; he had had a FEW calls already.

You can also communicate by email, as follows:
Minister Herb Dhaliwal: min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Prime Minister Jean Chretien: pm@pm.gc.ca
Nault: minister@inac.gc.ca


Please let Jean LaRose at the AFN know what you have done: JLarose@AFN.CA

    In solidarity,
      Ann Pohl
      Spokesperson
      Coalition for a Public Inquiry into Ipperwash
      t: 416-537-3520, f: 416-538-2559, e: annpohl@interlog.com



September 20, 2000 18:50
Importance: high
JLaRose JLarose@AFN.CA


Hi everyone,

We have just learned that the situation in Burnt Church has deteriorated.

The federal government has refused to discuss any of the issues notwithstanding the goodwill displayed by the community to make the mediation process work.

Current reports state that the mediator, Bob Rae, has or will quit due to the federal intransigence. Of greater concern to all of us are the reports that major, very major enforcement action including the DFO, RCMP and possible military assistance will be undertaken tonight or early tomorrow.

This will lead to a serious confrontation with possible, if not probable, injuries to our citizens.

You are all urged to call the various federal players in this dispute and strongly voice your concern about the government's actions.

The phone numbers are:
Prime Minister: (613) 992-4211 phone (613) 941-6900 fax Minister Dhaliwal: (613) 995-7052 phone (613) 995-2962 fax

Wayne Wouters: (613) 236-5265 phone (Note from AP: this is a home DM at DFO

Minister Nault: (819) 994-7617 phone (819) 953-4941 fax

Please call now and relay this message (with cc's to me, if you would) to all your contacts.

The situation is critical.

    Thanks.

      Jean LaRose Media Relations / Relations avec les m�dias
      Assembly of First Nations / Assembl�e des Premi�res Nations
      (613) 241-6789, ext. / poste 251 (office / bureau)
      (613) 241-6333 fax / t�l�copieur (office / bureau)
      (613) 795-9664 cell / cellulaire
      (613) 834-1481 home / r�sidence
      (613) 834-3055 home fax / t�l�copieur r�sidence
      jlarose@afn.ca email / courriel

       

------My letter to my MP-------

Willi Nolan willi@web.net
Situation Worsens
Sept. 2000 01:16:04


Dear Ms. Vautour:

I received the message below, which outlines the Canadian government's increasing use of militaristic force against the people of Burnt Church. My understanding of the situation is that by law, the Canadian government MUST negotiate in good faith with the First Nations people, and that enforcement activity is contrary to Canadian law and constitution in this situation.

Legal experts have informed published reports that DFO and RCMP attacks on Burnt Church are criminal and unconscionable.

Please respond to my request as your constituent, for your intervention without delay, and demand on my behalf that the government officials not hold themselves above the law, avoid potential injuries and deaths, and stop embarrassing the people of Canada with regard to acknowledging First Nations Treaty rights and Human Rights to the use of our vast national resources.

As the world watches and reports on this situation, it has become more than apparent that DFO is covering up a $500 million lobster fishing industry dominated by multinational corporations. It is also apparent that both non-native and First Nations fishers are being played as pawns with their lives and livelihoods offered up to protect large national and foreign business interests.

Thank you for your expeditious response to my request. I further request that you provide me with copies of any correspondence that you undertake with regard to this situation.

    Sincerely yours,


      Wilhelmina Nolan
      705 Fishing Club Road
      Bass River NB E4T 1H3
      506-785-4660

       



AND THIS FROM ARMAND MCKENZIE, INNU NATION LEGAL COUNSEL

Here is another number where you can send your letters:
Shawn Murdoch, Asst. to Minister Dhaliwal
Parliamentary Liaison
and Heather Bala, Communication Director for the Minister
cell: 613-794-9203
Please flood her answering machine. 613-992-3474
DFO 613-947-7082

As a representative for a non-governmental organization in consultative status at the U.N. We have already phoned at Minister Nault's office and at Herb Dhaliwal's office. We have already sent letters of support to Mr. Dedam's office and are sending letters stating our concerns to various federal officials and human rights organizations in Canada and at the United Nations.

Armand McKenzie, Lawyer
Innu Nation / Innu Council of Nitassinan

(From here I reached Heather Bala on her cell and got busy numbers at the others - will keep trying - AP / CPI)




Tension increases in fishing dispute

September 20, 2000 5:56 PM EDT

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. - The agreement mediator Bob Rae reached Tuesday night with leaders of the Burnt Church reserve has yet to proceed, and that has commercial fishermen edgy.

Natives and federal fisheries officials were to have held a joint count of lobster traps in Miramichi Bay and all untagged traps would be removed. As of late Wednesday, however, now counting had taken place.

That has commercial fishermen angry. Tuesday night dozens of them gathered at the wharf in Neguac as federal fisheries officials prepared to conduct another raid on the native traps. The situation was volatile, and RCMP officers were called in. The fisheries people decided not to inflame the situation, so they cancelled the raid and police escorted them away from the wharf.

Some non-native fishermen had earlier warning mediator Rae that there could be bloodshed if the dispute wasn't settled soon.





Burnt Church braces for violence
as mediation in lobster dispute stalls



CHRIS MORRIS

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. (CP) - This Mi'kmaq community braced for more violence on the water as talks aimed at settling a native fishing dispute dissolved Wednesday into confusion and bitterness.

After a day of negotiations, Chief Wilbur Dedam announced that mediation was "in limbo" and it appeared inevitable the band's lobster traps would be seized by fisheries officers again.

"It's not going anywhere," Dedam said of mediation. "Two parties have to agree, but the willingness isn't there on the part of government. Mr. Dhaliwal hasn't budged at all."

Ovide Mercredi, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was on the reserve and delivered an emotional appeal for peace.

He said the answer was in prayer. "I'm calling on the Canadian people to pray for this community and for their politicians so they use reason, not violence," he said.

Mercredi said support for the Burnt Church cause was growing across the country. The assembly had contacted chiefs for support. "They're on standby from the AFN for non-violent political action across the country."

Mercredi's bleak assessment came as non-native fishermen revealed the federal government had proposed paying them to stay out of the volatile dispute in northeastern New Brunswick.

Several commercial fishermen said federal officials floated an offer through their union of from $10,000 to $12,000 a person to not haul native traps from Miramichi Bay.

The fishermen rejected it.

"It's a joke," said Danny Noel, a fisherman from Val-Comeau, N.B. "Why don't they give $10,000 to everyone on the reserve to stop them fishing?"

Another fisherman told ATV News: "We're not that poor yet. We still got something to eat."

Non-native fishermen warned they would take matters into their own hands within a week unless Ottawa stopped the native fishing immediately.

"The traps have to be out of there and no more fishing," said Robert Breau, a commercial fisherman from Tabusintac, N.B. "The rules are there. The Indians have to follow them."

Dedam said he was tiring of threats from non-natives. "They have already earned their livelihood. They should just leave us alone," he said.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans couldn't be reached to confirm the payment offer, which came as all sides in the lobster dispute met separately all day to discuss their next move.

Late Tuesday, mediator Bob Rae, a former Ontario premier, said native leaders had proposed that the band and federal officials conduct a joint count of native traps in the bay.

He said the band also offered to remove some traps in the water, a move he called a "significant development."

The natives agreed to do the joint count with the RCMP but wanted the Fisheries Department to first return several boats seized during earlier raids. The natives said DFO refused that request and the count never took place.

In Ottawa, federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal said his patience was wearing thin and warned he would take action if a settlement isn't reached soon. "I've made every effort but I can tell you my patience is at an end and I think that if we don't have this resolved very quickly, I said I'll take action and I will," he said.

Dhaliwal called the native proposal to reduce the number of traps in the water "progress," but said "we have to watch to make sure this is followed up by action."

Commercial fishermen maintain a native fall lobster fishery when no one else is permitted to fish could destroy lucrative stocks.

Violence flared around Burnt Church last fall when non-natives destroyed hundreds of traps set by natives after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that natives have the right to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing.

About 200 commercial fishermen who fish in Miramichi Bay during the regulated season, which runs from late April to end of June.





CKNW RADIO NEWS
September 20, 2000
11:03 a.m.
"The Union of BC Indian Chiefs has reaffirmed its support for natives in Burnt Church, New Brunswick" Meeting in Vancouver, the BC chiefs have decided on an emergency fundraising campaign to support their counterparts on the east coast.




From: "Maqtewekpaqtism" maqtewekpaqtism@mikmaqmail.com

Burnt Church Braces For Confrontation



WebPosted Sept. 20 23:21:43
http://cbc.ca/news


BURNT CHURCH, N.B. - The fragile talks in the dispute over New Brunswick's lobster fishery have fallen apart. Burnt Church is on the brink of violence as federal authorities prepare to seize native traps and commercial fishers threaten to take matters into their own hands.

The RCMP have increased their presence around the reserve, and dozens of native warriors continue to patrol the area. There is speculation federal fisheries officials and the RCMP are preparing to seize native traps overnight or on Thursday.

Mediator Bob Rae left Burnt Church Wednesday saying the parties "are too far apart for mediation." He was returning to Toronto.

The mediation breakdown happened just one day after a supposed breakthrough. On Tuesday, fisheries officials and native fishers agreed to a joint count of native lobster traps in Miramichi Bay.

But the two sides could not agree on the details of the count. The Burnt Church band refused to remove traps with native tags. The government does not recognize those markings and has threatened to seize the traps.

Commercial fishers tired of waiting
The natives' defiance has angered commercial non-native fishers who are tired of waiting for a solution to the conflict. They are threatening to take native traps out of the water if nothing is done soon.

The commercial fishers also say Ottawa offered them $10,000 to $12,000 each to stay away from the native traps. But they rejected that proposal.

"They want to offer $10,000 but we don't want it," one commercial fisher said. "We don't need it. Why give the native people the right to fish and do what they want?"

There's been no confirmation of the offer from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

But Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal made it clear his patience is running out. "I think that if we don't have this resolved very quickly, I said I'll take action and I will," he said Wednesday.

Interpretations differ over Marshall ruling
The conflict has been ongoing since the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the native right to fish based on centuries-old treaties.

There are conflicting interpretations of the so-called Marshall decision. The Mi'kmaq say they'll keep setting lobster traps because the ruling allows them to fish how and when they choose.

But the federal government says it retains the right to regulate all fisheries. And non-native fishermen say there has to be one set of rules for everyone.

On the reserve Wednesday, Ovide Mercredi, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, made an emotional appeal for peace. "I'm calling on the Canadian people to pray for this community and for their politicians so they use reason, not violence," he said.

A vigil was held Wednesday night on the wharf at Burnt Church, as people watch and wait to see if the violence that flared last fall between native and non-native fishers will appear again.





DFO demonstration

IMPORTANT NOTICE

DEMONSTRATION RALLY & MARCH


From: Grandview Park on Commercial Drive
To: Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Pacific Regional Director's Office

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2000

To Demonstrate Non-Confidence
In Herb Dhaliwahl as Fisheries Minister
In His Fiduciary Role
To Protect the Aboriginal Fishers
Of Canada and Uphold the Honour of the Crown.

STOP Frontal Military Attacks
On Members Of Burnt Church
And Other First Nations
In Their Legal Access To The Fishes
In Their Respective Territories.

Please come out and show your support for Canada's First Peoples in their struggle to achieve equality of justice in Canada.

Organized BY: P.A.R.C.C. (Protecting Aboriginal Rights From Coast To Coast)
For more information contact:
UNN at 604-688-1821 or Cheam Band Office at 604-794-7924

 

 

From: "Maqtewekpaqtism" maqtewekpaqtism@mikmaqmail.com

Natives Declare Victory In N.B. Fishing Dispute

Tentative Deal Reached With Federal Government


http://www.globaltv.com/

MIRAMICHI, N.B., Updated 7:29 a.m. EDT September 20, 2000 -- Natives on New Brunswick's Burnt Church reserve are declaring victory Wednesday. The band reached a tentative deal with the federal government that apparently allows them to run their own lobster fishery.

Late Tuesday, mediator Bob Rae called the deal a first step towards peace in the dispute. He says Burnt Church has agreed to remove a significant number of traps from the water. Native leaders proposed a joint count of traps in the waters of Miramichi Bay. Federal fisheries officials would participate in the effort.

But band councillor Brian Bartibogue says Burnt Church has not caved in. He points out that the band will not sign a fishing deal with Ottawa. And he adds that his people have proven they can run a treaty-based fishery.

During the talks, native leaders proposed a joint count of traps in the waters of Miramichi Bay. Federal fisheries officials would participate in the effort.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Fishermen's Union is pleased that both sides have agreed to co-operate. Reg Comeau says he's happy that natives plan to remove lobster traps from Miramichi Bay.

Tuesday night, angry non-native fishermen gathered in Neguac, N.B., and there were fears that they may pull Mi'kmaq traps from the water.

But Comeau says fishermen will now wait and see if the natives live up to their end of the deal.

 

 

 

From: "Maqtewekpaqtism" maqtewekpaqtism@mikmaqmail.com

Natives Commit To Lobster Trap Removal



September 20, 2000
Canadian Press
http://www.globeandmail.com/


Bob Rae brokered an agreement late Tuesday that could clear the way to a peaceful settlement in the native fishing dispute in northeastern New Brunswick.

The former Ontario premier called the breakthrough in the standoff between the federal government and the Burnt Church First Nation "a significant development."

Mr. Rae said native leaders proposed that the band and federal officials conduct a joint count Wednesday of traps in the water off Burnt Church and "that they are prepared to remove traps from the water at that time. It is important to emphasize that this is a positive development and will contribute to an ultimate settlement," he said following a long day of meetings with all sides in the dispute.

The development came just when talks appeared to be breaking down and the potential for violence on Miramichi Bay was growing.

Mr. Rae, who agreed last week to try to mediate the dispute, said the natives offered to remove a substantial number of traps - a decision he believes "will have a positive affect on the public mood."

The mood was tense all day on and around the reserve as people lined the shore watching for any developments on the water. Non-native fishermen in the area have been threatening to take matters into their own hands if Mr. Rae can't mediate a solution.

The development came only hours after federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal appeared to be giving up hope in a quick settlement. Mr. Dhaliwal said in a release he was "deeply disappointed" that mediation hadn't worked and warned native leaders not to use talks as "a shield for unauthorized activity. We cannot and will not jeopardize conservation, or the viability of the fishery, by letting fishing activity continue unabated."

There have been concerns that commercial fishermen who live near Burnt Church might take the law into their own hands and destroy native traps in Miramichi Bay. That could lead to a repeat of what occurred last year when a massive seizure of native traps by commercial fishermen led to a week of violence and vandalism and opened a deep chasm of distrust between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities in the area.

Ovide Mercredi, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was in Burnt Church on Tuesday and pleaded for restraint and tolerance from both federal officials and non-natives.

"The people of Burnt Church don't want to take anyone else's livelihood," said Mr. Mercredi, who is advising Matthew Coon Come, the current national chief, on the explosive situation. "They just want equal access to the resource so they can have a livelihood themselves."

Earlier in the day the Mi'kmaq community of about 1,300 people agreed during a community meeting to end their lobster fishery, which Ottawa considers illegal, in 2* weeks. That is about three weeks earlier than they originally wanted to pull their traps.

Brian Bartibogue, a band councillor, said the decision wasn't difficult since it appears the lobsters are leaving the bay earlier than usual. Lobsters are migratory creatures that move to warm inshore waters in the summer and creep out into deeper water as winter approaches.

"This is a victory," Mr. Bartibogue said as he announced the band's plan to stop fishing next month. "We have not and do not plan to sign an interim agreement with the federal Fisheries Department. We've proven we can implement a treaty-based fishery."

The only commercial fishery sanctioned by Ottawa in the bay is from late April until the end of June. Although there is provision for a native fall food fishery, Burnt Church dismissed that as insufficient and pursued a full-scale livelihood fishery, which they believe is sanctioned by ancient treaties and current Canadian law.

Mr. Rae said questions of legality are beyond his mandate as a mediator. "It is a reality that the government of Canada has taken a position that the fishery is not lawful and the band has taken the position that it is lawful," Mr. Rae said. "This is not something that can be decided by mediation." Mr. Rae said earlier that he would try to clarify positions on all sides of the issue and see whether there's room for negotiation.

If not, the people of Burnt Church said they are prepared to defend their property and their rights against federal fisheries officers and, if necessary, non-native fishermen.

===========================


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