|At the invitation of the community, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has maintained a violence-reduction team at the fishery since April 2000. You are invited to participate in a CPT delegation to Esgeno�petitj in August 2001.|
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Hon. Herb Dhaliwal: email@example.com fax to 613-995-2962
Hon. Robert Nault: Nault.R@parl.gc.ca or fax to 613-996-1759
Hon Jean Chretien: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 613-941-6900
Canadian consulate in Chicago: email@example.com
Please copy all letters to:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Christian Peacemakers observer team)
JLarose@afn.ca (Assembly of First Nations)
email@example.com (Willi is TISG's contact in New Brunswick - she'll share your message in the community)
An Act of Terrorism was Committed Against Natives
by James Ward
Miramichi Leader newspaper, New Brunswick
October 4, 2001
Sunday, September 16th, an act of war was committed against my people. An act of war that was initiated by non-native fishermen with the silent sanction of the RCMP, DFO and Canadian government.
Approximately 50 large non-native vessels conducted a hostile incursion into Burnt Church waters with the intent of...physically destroying our way of life. The non-natives brought weapons and fired on native fishermen, who were just checking their traps, as soon as the non-natives arrived in our waters. They fired at land where children anxiously watched their fathers, brothers or uncles go out to defend their people. The non-natives tried to run over the little dories used by the Mi'kmaq.
This act of genocidal terrorism is part of an ongoing campaign of Canadian state-directed genocide and forced assimilation waged against the indigenous peoples of these lands.
Canada practices genocide:
Canadians have been conditioned to believe that genocide is just the systematic campaign of hunting down a particular race and herding them off to sites of execution, such as the case for Jewish genocide, or for a military to kill, rape and forcibly evict a particular race from their lands as in the "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnia. Canadians fail to realize that the United Nations accepted definition of genocide includes the systematic targeting for eradication of cultural and social institutions that are defining characteristics for that ethnic group. For instance, to destroy a people's way of life, like hunting and fishing traditions, is a form of genocide because that particular people are being destroyed as a people. The very cultural characteristic that helps define them as a distinct society is being targeted for extinguishment. The Mi'kmaq people have been fighting against the genocide that the Canadian government has waged since its inception.
Terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious or ideological objectives.
The unlawful use of violence conducted by the non-native fishermen to coerce my people to capitulate and assimilate into their system is a blaring example of terrorism. The campaign of daily death threats and repeated hostile incursions into our waters is terrorism.
Non-natives exercising Crime against humanity:
Will these non-native fishermen be investigated, let alone charged, for crimes against humanity (for perpetuating genocide) or for terrorism? Will they even be charged for attempted murder? Absolutely not. The RCMP sanctions these acts by allowing, time and time again, for them to happen.
In the last three years since the SCC Marshall decision the non-native fishermen have come into our waters with hostile intentions multiple times.
More than half the time the RCMP escorted them in under the guise of a "peaceful protest". Every single time the non-natives came in they committed acts of violence and/or property damage. Yet, the RCMP continues to play ignorant.
In this last instance the RCMP waited for the non-natives at the edge of our bay and moved out of their way to allow them to pass. The RCMP did nothing to stop the non-natives.
The RCMP adopted the usual role of just watching for natives to conduct the "criminal act" of defending themselves, while turning a blind eye to the criminal activity of the aggressors.
After the act of war was conducted against my people, the RCMP district commander, Kevin Vickers, failed in a racist attempt to protect the non-natives and criminalize the Mi'kmaq by stating only Burnt Church fired shots and the non-natives did not. Mi'kmaq amateur video proved otherwise.
These attacks on my people can not be tolerated. The Mi'kmaq people have been exercising an almost inexhaustible supply of patience and the warriors have conducted themselves with incredible restraint. Since the law enforcement agencies have clearly proven, once again, that they are the enemy and not the protectors, then the Mi'kmaq people have no choice but to aggressively defend themselves and their children by force if force is used against them.
From: multicom firstname.lastname@example.org
Arrests Looming as Algonquin Stand-off on Parliament Hill Enters Second Day
Unsurrendered Algonquin Territory (Ottawa-Hull) Friday, October 5, 2001 -- When the Algonquins of Barriere Lake return to Parliament Hill for a second day of camping they face an uncertain fate. The 150 or so members of the remote community in Northwestern Quebec had faced the prospect of arrest for pitching their tents on Parliament Hill.
After a day of tense negotiating, the RCMP managed to talk the Algonquins into tearing down their tents and return to their base camp on Victoria Island on the promise that the RCMP would try and broker a meeting with either the Minister or the Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs.
By late Thursday evening, however, it had become apparent that Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault had rejected the RCMP requests. Nault appears to be maintaining the hardline adopted by Indian Affairs towards the Algonquins. The Barriere Lake people have been hoping to meet with the Minister for several months to defuse an escalating crisis caused by the Federal decision to walk away on the final stages of implementing an integrated resource management plan (IRMP) for the Algonquin territory.
Nault1s hardline leaves both the Algonquins and the RCMP in a precarious position facing the prospect of conflict when the Barriere Lake people return to the Hill on Friday morning to rebuild their tent compound. The Algonquins had made it clear that they only removed the tents as an act of good faith to help the RCMP broker a deal with Indian Affairs. It appears that Nault would prefer to use arrests and the power of the RCMP to deal with the people from Barriere Lake.Without a deal in place, the Algonquins will be returning to set up their tent compound.
The Algonquins, made up of mostly Elders and young children, expect to be returning to Parliament Hill by 10:30 Friday morning.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT
Grand Chief Carol McBride Cell: (819) 629-7884
Russell Diabo Cell: (613) 799-8160
Raiders Charged Boats, Threw Beer Bottles;
'White mobs' beat my people: Coon Come
DURBAN - Matthew Coon Come, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, told a world conference against racism yesterday that an uncaring government and "white mobs" have robbed his people of their livelihood and forced them on to marginal reserves.
An international audience of almost 1,000 activists was gathered under the largest conference tent in Durban's cricket field when an emotional Mr. Coon Come complained that Canada's indigenous peoples endure everything from substandard housing to state violence. He shocked many in the crowd with his version of the fishing dispute that unfolded last year at Burnt Church, N.B.
"When our people tried to obtain a moderate livelihood from the sea, white mobs burned our boats and beat our people," said Mr. Coon Come, leader of the Assembly of First Nations.
"The Canadian government intervened only to ram our boats at sea," Mr. Coon Come said.
Violence erupted in Burnt Church last year after native traps were set illegally and fisheries officers began pulling them out.
A fisheries officer had his cheekbone crushed by a flying rock in August and several days later natives accused officers of sinking two boats and ramming a skiff. There were several clashes between officers and natives.
In September, fisheries officers said they were forced to abandon a pre-dawn raid on native lobster traps after two gunshots were fired from the Burnt Church reserve.
"Right across Canada," Mr. Coon Come said yesterday, "we have been assigned to tiny, marginal areas of land called Indian reserves -- less than a few per cent of our traditional lands. The Canadian state has retained for itself the resource rights, even under our feet."
One black South African student seated in the crowd gasped at the description. "Oh my goodness," she exclaimed. "Is it true? That happens in Canada?"
When Mr. Coon Come left Ottawa this week vowing to expose Canada's "racist" treatment of native peoples, he could not have imagined such a large, sympathetic crowd would turn out in Durban to cheer him.
The non-governmental conference on racism is a prelude to the official United Nations racism conference that begins today, and many of the disparate NGO forums have attracted a handful of people.
But Mr. Coon Come was paired on a panel with Angela Davis, the African-American activist who was once imprisoned on charges of murder and kidnapping. Hundreds rushed to snap pictures and get autographs from Ms. Davis, and the crowd grew larger when word got around that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the controversial former wife of Nelson Mandela, had made a surprise appearance on the panel.
She greeted Mr. Coon Come with a bear hug, and his speech was delayed for several minutes as the audience cheered for Ms. Madikizela-Mandela.
Activists hollered their approval when Ms. Davis called for the abolition of prisons and they cheered as another panelist proclaimed the American stars and stripes "the most hated flag in the world."
Mr. Coon Come was applauded repeatedly during his 20-minute speech and Ms. Madikizela-Mandela nodded while he compared the plight of his Cree people to that of black South Africans under apartheid.
"We also recognized the racist and colonial syndrome of dispossession and discrimination that was taking place in South Africa from our own experience. My own people, the James Bay Crees, have been virtually completely dispossessed of our lands and resources," he said.
"We have been deprived of our means of subsistence and our lands, and are being denied our right to benefit fully from our natural wealth and resources."
Mr. Coon Come said the feelings of hopelessness and despair among aboriginal youth have led to shocking rates of suicide and prison incarceration. He noted that Canada's reserves are often overcrowded and lacking in adequate sanitation or clean drinking water -- and he appeared to lay full blame on the government.
"I realize this may be surprising news for some of you. Canadians, and the government of Canada, present themselves around the world as upholders and protectors of human rights."
He acknowledged that, "in many ways" the reputation is well deserved, as Canada was a key opponent of apartheid and provides development assistance around the world.
"However, at home in Canada, the oppression, marginalization and dispossession of indigenous people continue."
He said the situation facing natives in Canada "has correctly been referred to as 'Canada's hidden shame.' "
In an interview later, Mr. Coon Come insisted much of the $7-billion Ottawa spends on social programs for aboriginals each year is wasted on government bureaucracy and never trickles down to the people on reserves.
"If we could revenue-share from the natural resources attached to our lands, we wouldn't have to rely on government handouts. I hate government handouts. I feel like a beggar in my own country, always asking the federal government for money."
COON COME SAYS:
- "We also recognized the racist and colonial syndrome of dispossession and discrimination that was taking place in South Africa from our own experience."
- "At home in Canada, the oppression, marginalization and dispossession of indigenous people continue."
- "We have been deprived of our means of subsistence and our lands, and are being denied our right to benefit fully from our natural wealth and resources."
Support the People of Esgeno�petitj First Nation (Burnt Church)
The situation remains VERY tense at Esgeno�petitj (Burnt Church). The People are being attacked, pressured and besieged from all sides: ongoing court cases from last year, federal government (DIAND) take-over of their Band finances, all the equipment and bigger boats they used in previous years being held hostage by DFO or destroyed by non-Native fishermen, military-style naval and air surveillance actions 24-hours daily, a massive mainstream media dis-information campaign to manipulate the public opinion of their story, and much more.
Resources and spirits are so stretched that getting the REAL People's story out to supporters like you is very tough. TISG will have a full report next week when Don Heap (AKA as Dan Heap, former NDP MP) and Robin Buyers (AKA an Ipperwash Inquiry activist and spokesperson) return from their 2-week solidarity visits there. Heap and Buyers have been at Esgeno�petitj as invited visitors, serving in the non-Native "violence-reduction observer" team coordinated by the Christian Peacemakers.
In the meantime, try http://www.turtleisland.org/ (click on the news button and surf around) for the Aboriginal 'take' on the news -- AND please engage in this fax/email campaign, which has been launched by Christian Peacemaker Teams Esgeno�petitj Team - Phone (506)779-6886 - Email: email@example.com
DO LOBSTERS HAVE EARS?
Who knows? But Canadians have ears. As Esgeno�petitj First Nation prepares for the fall lobster-fishing season, many wonder whether the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Canadian government are preparing to use the same �gunboat diplomacy� tactics as they used last year or if they�ll take this chance to use their ears and listen to First Nations people. In accordance with their treaty rights, the First Nations fishers will be dropping lobster traps into the waters of Miramichi Bay under the authority of the Esgeno�petitj Conservation Management plan. Meanwhile, DFO officers and federal officials will have the opportunity to renounce their violence and misbehaviour of the past in favour of respectfully dialoguing with First Nations people on a nation-to-nation basis.
THE ROLE OF CANADIAN CITIZENS
As a department of the federal government, the DFO represents all Canadians and, therefore, DFO officers act on our behalf as they relate to First Nations peoples (in the same way that they act on our behalf as they relate to other Canadians). If the DFO has acted in a way that goes against what Canadians want, then the role of Canadian citizens is to say, in effect, �Stop doing that! We want you to do this differently.� Unless Canadians speak up, the government interprets silence as support. In other words, through the federal governmental system, Canadians have a responsibility both to hold the DFO accountable for their objectionable behaviour of the past and to specify which positive and constructive behaviours DFO must display in the future.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Join the fax and email blitz! Send a message to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) asking them to respect the fall lobster-fishing season.
1. Encourage them to open their ears to listen to First Nations peoples.
2. Request that they widen their perspective to include the possibility that the conservation management plans of First Nations peoples might be
more conservation-minded and sustainable than current DFO plans. 3. Tell them that they do not need to passively accept orders from Herb Dhaliwal and Jean Chr�tien, but that they have the right and the obligation to initiate discussions within the federal system about the fact that Canadians need to build new relations with First Nations peoples.
WHERE DO I SEND MY MESSAGE?
LET THE PEOPLE OF ESGENOOPETITJ KNOW THEY ARE NOT ALONE. Please
send a copy of your letter to:
Non-violent observers prepare for Burnt Church
Dear Editor: Well, it's mid-August again. Time for Canadians to take the last of their summer holidays, harvest their gardens, play at the beach.
Regretfully, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the RCMP say it is time to gather their personnel, boats and weapons around the aboriginal community of Burnt Church (Esgenooptitj), New Brunswick.
And regretfully again, it is time for the Aboriginal Rights Coalition - Atlantic (ARC-A) Observer Project to make a schedule for its slate of trained, non-violent observers to be present in Esgenooptitj during the fall fishing season, with the hope that our presence there will help to prevent violence and open up a space within which peaceful fishery negotiations can occur.
It is nearly two years since the Supreme Court of Canada decreed, under the Marshall Decision, that First Nations people of Atlantic Canada have the right to earn a moderate livelihood from the fishery.
So far, since that first frighteningly violent local outburst in response to the September 1999 court decision, we have seen three more seasons of our DFO and RCMP authorities arming themselves against First Nations fishers. And the government of Canada continues to neglect to change federal fishery legislation in response to the Supreme Court decision.
This threat of violence isn't the fault of those DFO and RCMP officers whom we have seen on newsclips ramming boats and pointing guns. They are enforcing our pre-1999 federal fishery laws to stop First Nations people from fishing.
And it isn't the First Nations peoples' fault. They are fishing according to the newer 1999 Supreme Court decision, which states that they have the legal right to catch and sell fish. When asked, regional DFO officials tell us that they don't have the authority to change the laws in response to the court decision - it is up to the federal government to change them. And our government is now nearly two years behind on this task.
As far as we can see, the Canadian Government (via DFO) has been trying to circumvent the Supreme Court decision by making short-term one-sided fishery agreements with individual First Nations.
We use the terms "circumvent" and "one-sided" because the Supreme Court decision states that new fishery agreements must be accepted jointly by the First Nations and the Canadian Government, not merely fashioned and offered by the Canadian government in a "take-it-or-I'll-force-you-to" style, which seems to be the current situation.
Bob Allain, of DFO, has publicly stated that he has no substantial problem with the fisheries management plan under which the First Nations people of Esgenoopetitj have been fishing.
The Esgenoopetitj fishery plan is based on conservation methods in line with DFO practices. The Supreme Court Marshall Decision clearly states that the Canadian Government can intervene with First Nations fishing only if there is a public concern such as conservation. And the mode of intervention is supposed to be further joint negotiation. So, there is a clear, prescribed alternative to our government's response of forceful interventions.
We figure that the Canadian government is in denial regarding the First Nations' legal right to manage their own fishery. It is either that, or our elected and government officials do not have the creativity to see that there are different options other than having DFO set and manage all the rules.
In other parts of the Maritimes and the world, some form of community-based management of the fisheries has been much more effective. Maybe it is time for DFO to acknowledge that they can't manage the fisheries well and to let others participate in a meaningful way.
In the spirit of preventing violence by simply being present and observing, ARC-A Observers have been invited by the First Nations community of Burnt Church (Esgenoopetitj) to be present during their fishing seasons since April 2000.
In that time, we have seen no First Nations fishers carrying guns (although the DFO and RCMP authorities certainly are well-armed). We have seen this First Nation attempt a very modest lobster fishery amidst the huge and lucrative non-aboriginal commercial fishery.
The ARC-A Observer Project is sponsored by mainline Canadian churches and other individuals. Our volunteers have been trained in the same way that Canadians have been trained in the past to observe potentially unjust political situations in countries like Guatemala. We travel in pairs, carrying only pens, paper and cameras.
We go to Burnt Church in peace and hope. We hope that there will be
no violence. We hope that our Canadian Government will finally respond
responsibly to the Supreme Court decision, and sit down to openly negotiate
with First Nations people. We hope that our presence will no longer be
needed in this First Nations community. We would rather be out holidaying,
harvesting our gardens and playing at the beach. Margaret Tusz-King
Treaty Fishing Rights Denied
Mi'kmaq people's traditions threatened.
Hear and see their own story in the words of Grandfather Frank Thomas, Warrior Chief of the Mi'kmaq
Who Will Sing for Us?
The pictures that show, in ways no headline can, what the Canadian authorities are doing.
The original VHS video quality is broadcast quality.. If you'd like the VHS, send $10 to:
P.O. Box 305
This video was created in an effort to support the Mi'kmaq Indian Treaty Rights. We believe that Indian culture should be preserved and passed on to future generations. The treaties should be honored and respected--there are no expiration dates.
Our goal is to educate others as to the oppression and prejudice that exists today towards the Mi'kmaq Nation of Nova Scotia by the Government of Canada.
TREATY RIGHTS ARE NOT BEING HONORED!
If your hearts have been touched by this video, kindly express your concerns by printing out this page and signing below, and returning to:
Thank you for taking action on behalf of human rights.
Burnt Church Fishery Opens August 20
Atlantic Policy Congress
Of First Nation
[Amherst, NS] The Burnt Church Fishery opens on August 20, 2001 and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada has done nothing to work out arrangements for a peaceful fishing season for the residents at Burnt Church. The community is working towards achieving a true communal treaty fishery where all the members benefit.
The Atlantic Chiefs are very concerned about the potential violence that could take place in Burnt Church as did in previous years. Without any agreed upon arrangements with DFO, Burnt Church fishermen will be at risk of further violence.
�Dialogue is the key to finding a solution to the situation in Burnt Church, but once again, DFO refuses to acknowledge a treaty-based fishery,� said APC Co-Chair Chief Second Peter Barlow.
�I hope DFO will do the right thing here and provide the community with a fall fishery,� said APC Co-Chair Chief Lawrence Paul.
DFO has no scientific evidence to show that the Burnt Church fishery has had a negative impact in Miramichi Bay because of the fact that their fishery is practiced based on a management plan that has been accepted by the community as a whole in Burnt Church.
�The Burnt Church Fisheries Plan has strict regulations regarding conservation and the limits of catch, which the members of the community have accepted and abide by,� said Chief Paul.
The Chiefs also wish that the non-Native fishermen would be more open to the idea of a fall fishery and work with the community to further sustain the fishery for the future of all fishermen.
�It�s a matter of treaty implementation for the community at Burnt Church,� continued Chief Barlow, �getting off welfare to make a few dollars in the fall fishery is a way to help our people.�
Last year, DFO used excessive force and showed their one-sided and heavy-handed tactics in dealing with a Treaty Fishery in both Miramichi Bay and St. Mary�s Bay. This use of force was based on no data or scientific proof to justify their attacks on Mi�kmaq fishermen.
�It is hoped that DFO will provide scientific expertise that will work with Burnt Church on sustaining a treaty fishery today and in the future, but they seem to be ignoring that the fall fishery or the treaties even exist�� continued Chief Paul.
The Chiefs are in full support of Burnt Church�s fall fishery and hope that the violence seen in previous years doesn�t repeat itself this year.Contact:
JJ Bear ? Communications Officer ? firstname.lastname@example.org (902) 667-4007 work (506) 379-0244
'Sacred prayer' against pollution in Big Cove
REXTON, N.B. - People in and around the Big Cove Reserve are complaining about contaminated water. They say the Richibucto River's polluted, fish are dying and people are getting sick.
All week, dozens of people have been praying and sharing their stories of pollution. Willie Nolan helped organized the "sacred prayer." She has a background in environmental health and people come to her with troubling tales.
"They talked about fish being deformed, behaving unnaturally, swimming upside down. A lot of dead animals. Frogs and birds along the water. Little oil slicks, obvious signs of pollution," she says.
The pollution has kept 14-year J.P. Simon away from the water. He hasn't gone swimming in the Richibucto River for years. The last time he did, he got sick.
"My chest was all red, my arms. My face was all bumpy and my arms," he says.
Bruce Simon can remember when the river was a clear crystal brown. He used to catch foot-long trout but the fish are gone and the waters a murky green.
"And the kids, if they swim here, they get these little scabs on them. So I had to tell my kids and other kids not to swim there anymore," he says.
Farther down the river, the water's lined with black sludge.
The smell is pungent. It's slimy. It's purple. It's green. It's black. It's very, very hard on the stomach," is the way Simon describes it.
He thinks it's because of runoff from fields and sewage being flushed into the river. People in and around Big Cove have complained about the water for years. They say it's futile talking to government so now they're praying.
Invitation to join CPT at Burnt Church
My Dear Friends,
I really hope that you can join us in August, and that you will forward this message along to other good people.
Last year's experiences were not only scary for me, but taught me the real importance of "being there". I am certain that the presence of non-violent witnesses can not only prevent bloodshed, but ensures that the truth of the situation is exposed for the world to see. It is more than fitting that CPT has begun to call its witnessing "violence-reduction" teams.
After these experiences, I can only agree that the State will probably cause an increase in physical and media attacks on the fishers of Esgenoopetitj, directly or indirectly. The people need your support...please come.
Some of you have event promotion skills - might you be able to round up some entertainment for a musical event or 2? Let us know!! I live about 1 hour from Esgenoopetitj; my space has been used for meetings, breaks from witnessing, a friendly stop along the way, and alternate communications centre. You are welcome here too (camping or a bed if you're lucky).
Hope that CPT and I will hear from you soon.
TORONTO: Delegation to Esgeno�petitj (Burnt Church, New Brunswick) announced for August 19 - 28, 2001
There is an urgent need for Canadian and U.S. citizens and others to understand what Aboriginal communities are facing today. The Mi�kmaq community of Esgeno�petitj (Burnt Church, New Brunswick) is struggling for recognition of its right to a peaceful, sustainable lobster fishery. At the invitation of the community, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has maintained a violence-reduction team at the fishery since April 2000. You are invited to participate in a CPT delegation to Esgeno�petitj in August 2001.
Last year, Canadian fisheries officers repeatedly attacked Aboriginal fishers, seizing their traps, and ramming their boats. CPT observers on board the fishing boats documented many of these encounters and raised awareness around the world. CPT�s summary report �Gunboat Diplomacy� called attention to the Canada�s abuse of human rights at Esgeno�petitj (http://www.prairienet.org/cpt/canada.php).
The Mi�kmaq people in Esgeno�petitj fear that the government has not yet changed its course of action and that there could be more violence during the fall fishery which begins in mid-August. Delegation participants will meet various people related to the issue and may join the CPT team in its daily work.
Participants in this delegation should be prepared to:
Christian Peacemaker Teams
PO Box 72063, 1562 Danforth Ave., Toronto ON M4J 5C1
ph 4164217079, fax 4164671508, email email@example.com; or
CPT, POB 6508 Chicago, IL 60680
ph 3124551199, fax 3124321213, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An application form is also available on the CPT website http://www.prairienet.org/cpt
M�kmaq Yahoo! Group
Indian Brook Natives Ready to Fish Despite Warnings
ST. MARY'S BAY, N.S. - A native fishing dispute is brewing on the waters of St. Mary's Bay in southwestern Nova Scotia. The native band in Indian Brook, Nova Scotia says its members will go fishing as early as Thursday, with or without federal permission.
Dhaliwal Promises to Prevent Fishing
INDIAN BROOK, N.S. - The federal fisheries minister says the government will make sure no one fishes out of season in Nova Scotia. His comments are aimed at the members of the Indian Brook band.
Indian Brook wants to take to the water this week on St. Mary's Bay to fish for lobster. They want the right to fish during the summer, when the season is closed to commercial fishermen.
However Herb Dhaliwal says that won't happen. He says if anyone tries to set traps, the law will be enforced.
The federal Fisheries department has so far rejected the band's request to be allowed to fish in the summer, which is otherwise closed to commercial fishermen.http://www.halifax2.cbc.ca/
Defiant Nova Scotia tribal band to begin disputed fishery after deadline
June 12, 2001
By Alison Auld
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) A tribal band has vowed to defy Ottawa and head out to one of Nova Scotia's rich lobster grounds this week if Canadian officials refuse to sanction their fishery.
The Indian Brook, Nova Scotia, reservation said Tuesday it will take a flotilla of boats out to St. Mary's Bay by Thursday at the earliest in what could be a repeat of last summer's sometimes violent disputes over tribal fishing rights.
The landlocked band said it was waiting for a letter from the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs concerning its fishing rights. Chief Reg Maloney said he was giving the department until Wednesday to indicate how it would respond if tribal fishermen take about eight boats out to the bay on the province's west coast.
He also wants to have in writing the department's rejection of the band's request to be allowed to fish in the summer a time when the area is closed to all commercial fishermen. The department said last week it would not negotiate an immediate fishing arrangement that would allow the band to fish from June 13 to July 31.
"I don't expect an affirmative response, but we just wanted to make sure that the deadline is gone," Maloney said Tuesday after meeting with band councilors over how to proceed. "We're going fishing Thursday at the earliest."
The pledge came despite warnings from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that officers would likely seize traps and possibly boats, and charge tribal fishermen if they fish illegally. Maloney said about eight boats will head out into the bay to begin what he says is the band's traditional summer fishery.
DFO officers and natives clashed from their boats near wharfs in New Edinburgh, Nova Scotia, last year as officials tried to seize their gear. Several tribal members were charged and the reserve lost most of its boats.
The chief is worried a renewed fishery and new charges might jeopardize the ongoing legal cases the large, economically depressed reserve is already involved in. The band has gone to court in a bid to get back the seized boats and equipment.
"We've been charged enough," Maloney said. "We've got enough court battles. More charges are not going to help us. We're going to have to find money for our defense." Maloney had asked Indian Affairs to grant them access to the fishery based on treaty rights, rather than through interim fishing deals offered through DFO.
The Canadian government has offered Atlantic Canada's 34 tribal bands one- to three-year deals that give them access to the fishery, gear, training and funding. Maloney has resisted the deals since they were offered after the Supreme Court of Canada recognized tribal fishing rights in a September 1999 decision. A later clarification by the court said DFO had the right to regulate the fishery.
Tribal members from Indian Brook are asking for an allowance of 800 lobster traps in the bay. Ottawa has offered about 35 traps.
Non-native fishermen have worried the tribal fishery will lead to a collapse of prized lobster stocks in southern Nova Scotia.
June 12, 2001
Christian Peacemakers Head to Indian Brook Lobster Fishery
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) will maintain a violence reduction presence at the lobster fishery in Saint Mary's Bay, southern Nova Scotia, when Indian Brook First Nation begins fishing later this week.
Indian Brook fears a renewal of last year's harassment and violence from federal fisheries officers who have denied their right to a treatybased fishery. Therefore the First Nation has invited CPT to provide an observer team at the fishing grounds.
CPT member Lena Siegers, 57, from Blyth ON, said, "We have been told over and over that the presence of outside observers at Esgeno�petitj [Burnt Church NB] prevented bloodshed last year. That's why I am going to Saint Mary's Bay now."
CPT is sponsored by Mennonites, Brethren, Quakers and other Christians and has violence reduction teams in the Middle East, Colombia, and Mexico. CPT has also maintained a team at Esgeno�petitj again since April of this year. A new team is on its way to Saint Mary's Bay for the duration of this year's lobster fishing season.
Dialogue Starts Today First Nation Governance
Commercial fishermen seek major changes to the
[ UPDATES ] [ Background ] [ Wider implications ] [ 2001 ]
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