Attacks on Mi'kmaq treaty fishing

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

New Brunswick/Nova Scotia "lobster war." - Canada

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CONTENTS:
Sept. 26, - Nov. 2000  
2000: Nov. News,   Oct. 1st,   Sept. 28th,   27th,   26th  
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2000 : [ Sept. 26th - Nov. ] [ Sept. 23rd - 25th ] [ Sept. 20th - 22nd ] [ Sept.  1st-19th ] [ August ]
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===========================

CPTnet
November 21, 2000
ESGENOOPETITJ UPDATE:
October 1 - 31, 2000


Sunday, October 1 - Treaty Day



Many people attended Treaty Day from across Canada and the USA. The whole community gathered for a sunrise service, parade, Catholic Mass, speeches, a feast and music. CPTers, in their red hats, joined the parade. Ovide Mercredi (former National Chief), and several chiefs and grand chiefs focussed their speeches on the broken treaties and Canada's broken promises. After the extreme tension of the past weeks, people were able to relax and have fun.

The Canadian government was still present though as two Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) boats appeared offshore at the start of the parade and a Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead at the end.

Monday, October 2 Esgenoopetitj First Nation (EFN) lobster fishers were out all day checking and setting traps. DFO and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) boats came in 3 times but retreated when confronted. A Coast Guard helicopter hovered low over the fishing boats all day and a DFO surveillance plane was overhead constantly.

Tuesday, October 3 DFO and RCMP boats appeared 3 times and may have pulled some traps the first time. A Coast Guard helicopter and DFO surveillance plane were overhead all day. A Korean film crew arrived to make a documentary.

Several fishers treated the team to a lobster feast and stories of Janet Shoemaker and William Payne's first visit last January and everything that CPT and EFN have gone through together since then.

Wednesday, October 4 Three DFO boats appeared for an hour but did not seem to take any traps. A new United Church pastor has finally arrived in Burnt Church, replacing Dan Kierkegaard who left in June. EFN folk have heard that she wants to continue the Community Dialogue Forum soon but may not be working with the Aboriginal community.

Thursday, October 5 Two DFO planes and the Coast Guard helicopter circled overhead much of the day but it was quiet on the waters. Rumours circulated that a major RCMP raid was imminent after tactical squads were spotted on land and more RCMP boats at the wharf.

Many people were in Neguac court for the hearing of charges against EFN folk. The scene was quite confused as the Crown had failed to provide disclosure documents. The defence lawyer therefore filed for discharges but the judge held the cases over to Oct. 19. Band councillor Brian Bartibogue's trial for "illegal fishing" on May 6 was set for 3 weeks starting Jan. 22, 2001. He was informed of a new charge of assault but had received no summons.

Friday, October 6 Planes and a helicopter flew overhead all day but it was quiet on the waters.

Saturday, October 7 EFN had decided that this would be the last day of lobster fishing for the year. Most fishers had already pulled their traps up. At 4 pm the Listiguj Rangers went out, with CPTer Jamey Bouwmeester as an observer, to pull a few more traps. The Rangers are fishing conservation officers from the Listiguj First Nation in Quebec who came to assist the EFN in patrolling the fishery.

Sunday, October 8 CPTers Nathan Bender and Jim Loney went to Mass at Baie Ste. Anne and then joined the rest of the team for a Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Isobelle Bartibogue. She provided CPT's campsite all year.

Later in the day, the Rangers, with CPT and Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) observers on board, removed all remaining lobster traps from the water without incident, much to everyone's relief. DFO boats and a helicopter hovered in the distance.

Tuesday, October 10 The team began a "Listening Project" in the non-Aboriginal community of Burnt Church. The goal was to learn more about and listen to the concerns of EFN's neighbours. Two CPTers were asked to help with writing and computer work at the EFN Band Office. Two fishers dropped by to express concern that national Aboriginal leaders are now pressuring EFN to sign DFO's "agreement".

Thursday, October 12 The Listening Project interviews continued along with work at the Band Office. Four government boats and a helicopter made an appearance close to shore even though they know that there are no traps left in the water.

Friday, October 13 The last of the Listening Project interviews occurred. In all, the team visited with 22 households. In general CPT found the Burnt Church community traumatized and angry at the Mi'kmaq Warriors, the outside observers (including CPT), the government, the police, and the media. Some people acknowledged the basic issues, but most described the conflict in very racist terms. Few seemed to have any social or other interaction with members of EFN. It became hard to listen to all this invective without responding directly.

Saturday, October 14 Miigam'agan invited the team to a ceremony and feast in honour of her father who died in February. This was followed by a very moving 2- hour talking circle.

Sunday, October 15 Three CPTers worshipped at the local United Church and met the new minister, Gay Smith. During the service, prayers were offered for peace in various conflicted areas of the world, but no mention was made of the immediate local conflict.

Monday, October 16 CPT was called to a conflict involving DFO and aboriginal people over salmon-fishing in the Tabusintac River, 20 km away. It turned out to be a false alarm. The team distributed a letter to the neighbours they met during the Listening Project summarizing what CPT had heard.

Tuesday, October 17 The DFO was present again with 2 boats. The lobster fishing ended 10 days ago. Lena Siegers and Christine Forand visited Big Cove First Nation, and met band councillors, fishers, and community members. Big Cove is about 100 km south of esgenoopetitj. It is the largest Mi'kmaq community and did sign an interim agreement with DFO.

Wednesday, October 18 Siegers and Forand found that some people in Big Cove were frustrated that, of the 50 boats promised by DFO as a benefit under the agreement, only 4 had so far been delivered. Big Cove folk said the band council had only signed because the band was so heavily in debt. They had also seen little of the lobster promised under their food fishery. There is a lot of suspicion of the government's "community based management" which folk say favours big corporate fishers over small inshore fishers. Other Big Cove folk say the DFO agreement is a beneficial long-term deal and will be renewed when it expires in March 2001.

Siegers and Forand also went to Bouctouche and met with a councillor for that small First Nation which also signed an agreement with DFO. He felt the agreement was beneficial and meant the community could survive.

Thursday, October 19 It was another day in Neguac court for the dozens of people charged so far by DFO with criminal and fisheries charges. Because of continuing confusion about lack of disclosure by the Crown and new charges unknown to the accused, it was all held over again until Nov. 16. Included in this were the "obstruction" charges laid against 6 EFN members and CPT Canada Coordinator Doug Pritchard relating to June 12 and now held over for the 4th time.

Friday, October 20 An EFN community leader dropped by CPT's camp and said "there would have been a lot more violence if CPT had not been here this year." He enjoyed meeting all of the CPTers and said they had changed his views somewhat about white people. However, he was confident the community's souls were safe because CPTers did not know their Bibles well enough to get them.

Sunday, October 22 Forand went to the United Church in Burnt Church and Gina Lepp went to the Catholic Mass at esgenoopetitj.

ARC had a final evaluation meeting with EFN as they ended their observer project. Some folk were vocal about not wanting them (or CPT) back, but most said these objectors were a minority who "had their own agenda".

There were rumours of violent encounters occurring between Warriors and DFO over salmon fishing on the Tabusintac River.

Monday, October 23 CPTers joined a small community group for prayer at a sacred fire on the reserve's Diggle Point. Then Siegers and Lepp drove 400 km southeast to Halifax, NS to join an evening Interfaith "Vigil for Peace on the Waters." The vigil gathering was quite small but intense.

Tuesday, October 24 Siegers and Lepp travelled to Indian Brook First Nation at Shubenacadie, NS. Indian Brook is the other large Mi'kmaq nation which did not sign a fishing agreement with DFO. As a result, they too suffered considerable violence at the hands of DFO and the RCMP on their fishing grounds in the south part of the Bay of Fundy. That evening the CPTers were invited to sit in on a meeting of community fishers as they revised their "Treaty Commercial Fishing Standards".

Wednesday, October 25 CPTers met with other fishers and community members at Indian Brook. One fisher said, "It was better before the Marshall decision. DFO and RCMP did not pay so much attention to what we do. Now they take our boats and don't even give us time to take our things off the boats. I lost everything."

At esgenoopetitj, the Coast Guard helicopter made low passes over the community all morning, non-stop. An RCMP cruiser has been driving around the community for the past several days. Children are upset by the continuing harassment and no one can relax.

Thursday, October 26 Siegers and Lepp continued visiting at Indian Brook, meeting people at a "sweat", the band office, the RCMP office, and the Catholic church on the reserve. The Catholic priest was reluctant to discuss any fishing issues. CPTers attended another meeting with the fishers working on their Fishing Standards.

Saturday, October 28 The team returned to esgenoopetitj from Indian Brook and began to close up camp. That night, 6 inches of snow fell. It was hard to say good-bye. People are pessimistic that anything will be resolved over the winter and so have asked CPT to return for the spring fishery.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence reduction efforts around the world. Contact CPT, POB 6508 Chicago, IL 60680, TEL. 312-455-1199 FAX 312- 432-1213 To receive news or discussion of CPT issues by e-mail, fill out the form found on our WEB page at http://www.prairienet.org/cpt/


{ref: Burnt Church}
List info at: http://ishgooda.nativeweb.org/natnews.htm

October 2, 2000 ===========================

 

Burnt Church has successfully implemented plan: chief



Derwin Gowan tjmira@nb.aibn.com Telegraph-Journal
http://www.nbnews.com/telegraphjournal/
October 2, 2000


BURNT CHURCH - The organizers promised Mi'kmaqs and their supporters that Treaty Day 2000 would be a great time at Burnt Church First Nation. They delivered on the promise. Not even the Department of Fisheries and Oceans helicopter flying back and forth over Miramichi Bay spoiled the festive atmosphere on Sunday.

Burnt Church First Nation says its fall lobster fishery does not end officially until Oct. 7 but the mood here on Sunday was one of victory and relief - six more days and the last of the traps will be out of the water one way or another until next spring.

"To me I'm so happy - peace at last," Margaret Bartibogue told a reporter. "It's up to God what we do. God made this world and we're going to stand by it."

Her husband Arthur said, "Peace at last - that's all I'm going to say."

Chief Wilbur Dedam and others said Burnt Church will fish lobster next year under its own fisheries policy - meaning this community is ready to go to war again to assert its right to fish under its own rules.

This, in turn, will mean more clashes with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and possibly non-aboriginal commercial fishermen - unless a renewed effort at mediation leads to some accommodation.

"But as I stand before you today, despite the physical beatings and brutal assaults against my people, I am here to declare a moment of victory," Chief Dedam said in his address to Treaty Day participants. "I am here to tell you that Esgenoopetij [Burnt Church First Nation] has successfully implemented the EFN Management Plan, and although battered and bruised, we still remain proud, strong and free. . . .

"I am here also to tell my brothers and sisters of Mi'kmaq country that a treaty-based fishery is not only possible, but is attainable."

Ovide Mercredi, a past national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said an impromptu news conference outside the band office that he hopes the mediation process started by former Ontario premier Bob Rae resumes.

He also said the fight is with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans more than commercial fishermen. "I've always said that I didn't think that the non-aboriginal fishermen were the real issue here, and I didn't think that the community here had any reason to be fearful of exercising their treaty right," he said. But I've always said that the problem was the government, their laws, their regulations and the attitude of the officers," he said. He said the confrontations on the water will repeat themselves without a change of personnel in Fisheries and Oceans - particularly certain officers.

Mr. Mercredi said the Assembly of First Nations fisheries commission will meet here on Tuesday and Wednesday to plan a major conference to draft a Canada-wide policy on aboriginal fisheries - not flowing from the federal Fisheries Act.

"The governments themselves, they have to be more flexible and they have to listen to their own Supreme Court and the politicians have to stop playing politics with our rights," he said.

Two medical doctors, Rajinder Singh and Mohan Singh Virick, from Cape Breton Island, came to Treaty Day and said Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dhaliwal does broke the tenets of his religion in the way he has handled the lobster crisis. The doctors, whose patients include Mi'kmaqs at Eskasoni First Nation, N.S., said Mr. Dhaliwal should recognize the aboriginal right to fish.

Stephen J. Augustine, a Mi'kmaq historian and member of the Mi'kmaq Grand Council, gave a lengthy oration on Mi'kmaq beliefs and the historical background to treaties signed more than 200 years ago.

"We want to share the Earth but we want our share too," he said.

October 1, 2000
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Treaty Day focuses on broken promises, bitterness between Mi'kmaq and Ottawa



CHRIS MORRIS
October 1, 2000


BURNT CHURCH, N.B. (CP) - Aboriginal people from across Canada gathered at the Burnt Church reserve on Sunday to celebrate Treaty Day, but many thought it should have been called "broken treaty" day.

The Mi'kmaq reserve in northeastern New Brunswick was the scene of violent conflicts over the summer as aboriginal fishermen defied the federal government and fished lobsters under their own terms and on the basis of treaty rights.

But as native people paid tribute to those treaties, some from as far back as the 18th century, many despaired of ever seeing modern-day governments accept the original deals signed in Canada's dim and fractious early history. The Mi'kmaq say the treaties define rights to harvest and sell natural resources from their traditional territories.

"Canada violates and manipulates the treaties constantly," said Burnt Church resident James Ward, leader of a faction of Mi'kmaq warriors. "If it didn't, we wouldn't have had this fight on the water for the past few months. I think it would have been more appropriate to have labelled this 'broken treaty' or 'broken promise' day."

The federal Fisheries Department, a constant presence on Miramichi Bay since the most recent conflict began in mid-August, was once again in evidence on Sunday as a fisheries helicopter flew low over the bay, checking for lobster traps.

The presence of the chopper clearly bothered participants attending the traditional ceremonies. There were people in Burnt Church from throughout the Maritimes as well as from Quebec, Ontario and the western provinces.

"Government officials knew the community would be celebrating Treaty Day and to send the helicopter just to remind us they're here shows they've learned nothing from this summer," said Ovide Mercredi, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and an adviser to current chief, Matthew Coon Come.

Several members of Canada's Sikh community were also at Burnt Church on Sunday to show their support for the Mi'kmaq people and to criticize fellow Sikh, Herb Dhaliwal, the federal Fisheries Minister.

"He (Dhaliwal) is not following his religion," said Rijinder Singh of Sydney, N.S. "If he was following the Sikh tradition, he would be equal and just and help people who are oppressed."

Mercredi said the experience at Burnt Church, especially the sight of native fishermen in small boats risking their lives against powerful police and fisheries vessels, has reignited aboriginal determination to get a better deal from Canada, especially in terms of land and resources.

"Burnt Church has re-awakened the resolve of the Indian people to have their treaty rights respected by Canada," said Mercredi, who has spent about a month at Burnt Church, promoting non-violence. "The treaties provide an avenue for many people to eliminate poverty by having access to natural resources."

Mercredi said the Assembly of First Nations will organize a major gathering of aboriginal fishermen and chiefs, probably before Christmas. He said the plan is to create a First Nations fisheries policy, based on treaty and aboriginal rights.

"Governments have to be more flexible," he said.

There was skepticism, both at Burnt Church and in the non-native fishery, that a permanent, peaceful solution to the dispute can be found before lobsters return to Miramichi Bay in the spring.

"Nobody feels satisfied that there has been a resolution to this thing," said Mike Belliveau, spokesman for the Maritime Fishermen's Union which represents commercial, inshore fishermen. "So there's a lot of anger and bitterness and a lot of questions as to how it can be resolved."

The immediate tension has been relieved by the seasonal migration of lobsters from shallow water near the reserve to deeper waters. Native fishermen don't have the equipment to work in deep water so their contentious lobster fishery - which Ottawa insists is illegal - is over.

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has agreed to continue his mediation efforts over the winter. Rae was in Burnt Church earlier this month, but left when it became clear the two sides were too far apart for meaningful dialogue. But Rae believes the gap can be bridged and he's willing to keep trying.

Dhaliwal has said publicly he still wants dialogue to resolve the situation and there is some optimism at Burnt Church.

"I know there are people calling this 'broken treaty' day," said Karen Somerville, spokeswoman for the Burnt Church band council. "But today marks a new day as far as recognizing our treaties is concerned and what they mean to all aboriginal people in Canada."

September 28, 2000
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NB lobster war winds down



Thursday, September 28, 2000 Canadian Press
http://www.canoe.ca/CNEWSFishingCrisis/lobster_sep28-cp.html


BURNT CHURCH, N.B. (CP) -- The lobster war in New Brunswick's Miramichi Bay appears to be winding down. Officials with the federal Fisheries Department and spokesmen on the Burnt Church reserve said Thursday the disputed native lobster fishery is coming to an end. Bob Allain, a Fisheries spokesman, said aerial surveys done earlier this week suggest there may only be 250 to 300 lobster traps left in the bay, the flashpoint of the dispute between Ottawa and natives over treaty fishing rights.

Lloyd Augustine, an adviser to the Burnt Church band council, said he believes the native lobster fishery will end in a few days, largely because the lobsters are moving out of the bay into deeper water as part of their normal migratory cycle. "We don't have the equipment to follow the lobsters out, so the season is pretty well over anyway," Augustine said. It's expected most Burnt Church fishermen will remove their traps by Sunday, when representatives of Maritime Mi'kmaq bands and native leaders from Ontario arrive at the reserve for Treaty Day celebrations.

Augustine said the end of fishing is not a concession to the Department of Fisheries. He said the few traps still in the water are a symbol to his people and a message to Ottawa to stop "treating natives like children." Fisheries officers were out in full force on Wednesday sweeping the sea floor in deeper waters around the mouth of the bay. Allain said they are satisfied that those areas are now clean of traps. In a decision last fall, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled natives have the right to make a moderate living by hunting, fishing and gathering. But in a rare followup clarification, the court said the federal government had the right to regulate the fishery under certain circumstances.

September 27, 2000
===========================


From: "Maqtewekpaqtism" maqtewekpaqtism@mikmaqmail.com


Burnt Church and the
Twilight Zone of Miramichi Bay

Janice Harvey
http://www.nbnews.com/telegraphjournal/
September 27, 2000


I had a "Twilight Zone" experience the other evening, listening to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Herb Dhaliwal being interviewed on CBC Radio. Mr. Dhaliwal constructed a version of recent events at Burnt Church that was hard to recognize, to say the least. I had to ask, am I, or is Mr. Dhaliwal, living in another time-space dimension? One of us is disconnected from reality, and I'm not yet prepared to say it is me.

Mr. Dhaliwal places all the onus for mediator Bob Rae's abrupt departure (Ovide Mercredi calls it a hiatus) on Burnt Church. And yet, DFO did not seem to have a negotiating position when the mediation talks began. The official public line was and remains that the native fishery in Miramichi Bay is illegal and must end. Period. No wiggle room there.

Yet, by virtue of DFO agreeing to appoint a mediator, Burnt Church assumed DFO had a compromise position to bring to the mediation. Native negotiators were jerked around on a chain, trying to come up with something DFO would accept to defuse the situation. First they tried to organize a trap count (it finally happened with three independent chartered accountants, but by that time Bob Rae was gone, Mr. Dhaliwal had declared any trap is too many, and had issued his deadline for removing all traps). Then they proposed shortening the season, to end on October 7. Their final move was to offer that most traps would be removed by Oct. 1, and the rest by the 7th.

The argument could be made that DFO's illegal fishery position could not be negotiated without legitimizing the opposing view - that the Mi'kmaq have a right to fish and manage their own fishery. Fair enough. But given that, DFO should never have agreed to mediation. To do so was the ultimate in bad faith.

I believe appointing a mediator served one important purpose for DFO - to repair some of the public relations damage done by video images of DFO patrol boats ramming native skiffs and endangering lives. While one hand made this token gesture, the other remained intransigent in the negotiating room, out of view of the cameras.

Once Bob Rae announced the parties were too far apart to broker any agreement, Mr. Dhaliwal was free to make his next move. He declared the native fishery illegal, and imposed the deadline for removing all traps. Never mind that this had been his line from the outset. Now, he justified a final shutdown of the native fishery by casting Burnt Church leaders as guilty of scuttling the mediation. We have made every effort to resolve this, he claimed.

The implications for Burnt Church are profound. Canadians want fish stocks conserved, and they want to believe Mr. Dhaliwal's statements that this is his only concern. And since most Canadians have never been on an Indian reserve (which don't even show on the New Brunswick map as real communities - they are marked instead like tourist attractions or institutions) and most probably have never known an Indian, it is easy for concern over lobster stocks to turn into nasty demonizing of an entire ethnic group.

DFO's high-ground spin reached the height of hypocrisy when Mr. Dhaliwal said that, in a civilized society, people ultimately have access to the courts to defend their case. He had the gall to suggest Burnt Church residents take this route if they truly believe they are an aggrieved party. Meanwhile, despite the fact that no court has ruled on the constitutionality of any illegal fishing charges against Burnt Church fishermen, DFO is seizing hundreds of traps without laying charges and forcing native fishermen to take the department to court to get their property back. The burden of proof has been reversed. This is akin to any one of us having our car seized on suspicion of a crime, and held until we could mount a court action to prove our innocence - a flagrant abuse of our justice system.

It has parallels to the APEC scandal in Vancouver. There, the constitutional rights of students were allegedly abrogated by police in the interest of pro tecting the sensitivities a brutal Indonesian dictator. Canadians were so disturbed by the sight of police aggression against the students, and by stories of students being arrested and held on bogus charges, that an independent inquiry ensued.

Are we not equally disturbed by DFO's shocking displays of force on the waters of Miramichi Bay? By the seizure of property and the absence of court hearings to determine guilt? Will there be an inquiry into the government's handling of this situation? Are Canadians really willing to see constitutional rights abrogated depending on circumstances?

If justice, meaning the lawful collection of evidence and the presentation of that evidence before a court to ascertain guilt or innocence, can be denied in the case of the Burnt Church fishery dispute, then it can be withheld in other situations.

Minorities and those without public or political clout - those who most need that constitutional protection - are at the greatest risk.

Nothing less than Canada's rule of law is at stake here. It's a slippery slope indeed, and I don't think we, as a nation, want to go there.


Janice Harvey is a freelance writer and environmentalist. She can be reached by e-mail at waweig@nbnet.nb.ca





Federal officers maintain presence
near N.B. aboriginals' lobster traps


Stephen Thorne
September 27, 2000


BURNT CHURCH, N.B. (CP) - A half-dozen native boats chased federal boats across Miramichi Bay on Wednesday after enforcement officers moved in to pull more native lobster traps.

The late-afternoon raid occurred within a few hundred metres of a government wharf that native warriors have occupied off and on since a dispute over native fishing resumed last month. It wasn't immediately clear if the few enforcement vessels in the operation pulled or destroyed any traps.

There were also no reports of a repeat of collisions that marred earlier confrontations.

Robert Allain, regional director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, estimated about 250 native traps remained in the bay - the vast majority of them in shallow waters just in front of the reserve. Nearly 1,400 have been seized or destroyed since last Friday.

"The traps inshore are a bit more difficult (to seize) because the risk factors are a little higher," he said earlier in the day. "But the officers will plan for that accordingly. The RCMP will assist us if we require it and we'll make every effort to try to remove those traps."

It was quiet on the bay for most of the day as a few stalwart Mi'kmaqs collected lobsters and baited traps while a coast guard helicopter passed overhead and government vessels kept watch from afar.

Allain said enforcement operations would continue despite undertakings several natives to remove their traps Sunday, a week ahead of the band's self-declared schedule.

"The fishery was closed as of last Friday morning and the intention is still to remove as many traps as possible," Allain said. "We'd like to terminate this as quickly as possible, but we're getting mixed signals from Burnt Church as to when they'll terminate the fishery."

Some traps have already come ashore and other native fishermen have declared they will pull their traps Oct. 1, when bands around the Maritimes celebrate Treaty Day - traditionally the day that government and chiefs were to meet each year to discuss treaty issues and renew commitments.

While that has rarely been the case since the 18th-century treaties were signed, natives have used the day to gather, talk, pray and celebrate.

The latest seizures came as native leaders in Ontario pledged support for those in Burnt Church. A delegation of 250 provincial leaders and elders planned to travel to the reserve for Treaty Day.

And in Nova Scotia, Chief Lawrence Paul of the Millbrook reserve predicted more confrontations next summer unless Ottawa includes native bands in its fisheries policy.

"Burnt Church symbolizes to the Indian people our determination as a people to have our treaty rights honoured Canada," said Ovide Mercredi, senior fisheries adviser to the Assembly of First Nations who has been dispatched to help and advise local leaders.

"Burnt Church symbolizes to the Indian people how important it is to our people to resist government policies and laws that violate our treaty rights.

"And Burnt Church represents to the Indian people across the country what a community can do if they set aside their differences for the common good of their future generations."

But the dispute represents more than that, said Mercredi. "I think it also represents that non-violence represents a strong and powerful force and as long as they maintain that strategy of having no conflict on the water, which is the policy of the community that the warriors are following, then they will win this battle."

The band's hereditary chief, Lloyd Augustine, said there is no symbolism in the removal of traps on Treaty Day. It's simply a matter of practicality, he said - the lobsters are migrating into deeper water.

"A lot of our people have stated that this (removing traps on Sunday) is something that they're willing to do," said Augustine. "A few more will just ride it out for just a few more days, until (Oct. 7) when it finally ends. "Right now, we don't have the equipment to follow the lobsters out."

Elected Chief Wilbur Dedam said he was leaving his traps in the water. "The majority of people said to keep them in there till Oct. 7, so that's what I'm going to do."

On Tuesday, fisheries officers scooped up 31 traps in darting raids, destroying 18 wooden ones at sea and seizing 13 steel ones. They avoided confrontation with six native warrior boats.

Native warriors have come from around the region to patrol the area and control access to the government wharf near the reserve. Their leader, James Ward, called Tuesday's operation ineffectual - more of a statement to keep non-white fishermen at bay than a conservation or enforcement measure.

Native fishermen in St. Mary's Bay, on Nova Scotia's southwestern shore, began pulling up some of their traps Wednesday morning. The fishermen, who have lost more than 1,500 traps and two boats to seizure, said they can't afford to replace the traps they've already lost to DFO and want to keep the few traps they have left.

Twenty-nine Maritime bands reached one-year interim agreements with Ottawa after the Supreme Court of Canada clarified its ruling in the case of Mi'kmaq fisherman Donald Marshall.

The decision reaffirmed natives' treaty right to fish where and when they wish, saying they can earn "moderate livelihoods" from their catches. The clarification last November said the treaty right is subject to regulation the federal government.

September 26, 2000
===========================


Ottawa launches fresh raid in lobster fishing dispute



http://cbc.ca/news/
WebPosted Sept. 26, 2000 14:32


BURNT CHURCH, N.B. - Federal fisheries officials have launched another raid on aboriginal fishing grounds in Burnt Church. RCMP and coast guard helicopters swept overhead and there were a number of high-speed chases involving fisheries and native boats. Several traps were seized.

The move comes as the national leader of Canada's natives Matthew Coon Come sent Ovide Mercredi to Burnt Church on a mission to prevent warriors there from getting into a violent conflict.

"It's very important for the people in Burnt Church to use restraint and nonviolence, or the government will win," said Mercredi.

Meanwhile, charges have been laid against a 41-year-old non-native man from nearby Neguac in connection to an incident on Saturday in which shots were fired from a boat. Roger Leblanc was arrested along with two other men. RCMP say he faces one count of careless use of a firearm and one count of possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose.

The AFN is worried Ottawa is trying to provoke a violent conflict with the warriors at Burnt Church - a possibility the warriors themselves are preparing for as they defend their traps. Yesterday, they led the charge against federal fisheries officers who made a daring dash to seize the last of the native lobster traps set close to the reserve.

"I know myself, along with the others, are willing to put our lives on the line," said James Ward. "We've all talked about it. We've actually had traditional ceremonies concerning it."

The natives are defending their right to fish when and how they choose, something they say is their right by treaty, affirmed last year by the Supreme Court in its Marshall decision.

The federal government has maintained it has the power to regulate all fisheries.

Non-native commercial fishermen insist there be one set of rules for everyone.

 

 

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