Saugeen Ojibway fishing rights
in Lake Huron


From: David McLaren d.mclaren@BMTS.COM



In this Bulletin:
1. Update on the Meaford fishing dispute
2. Nawash advancing the science of the fishery
3. 2001 Nawash Fishing Conference, March 19-21, 2001
4. Elders' Conference at Trent University, February 16-18, 2001
5. Update on the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters' court
of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources' ban on the Spring bear hunt (next court date Feb. 26-7, Provincial Court, Toronto)

Please note that the links to specific stories in this bulletin are valid only until the website is next updated. If you can't find the story you are looking for, go to and scroll to the story you want.


In June 2000, the Chippewas of Nawash and the Chippewas of Saugeen (the Saugeen Ojibway) signed a co-management Fishing Agreement with Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources) and Canada (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). The Agreement, among other things, sets out protocols for how data will be exchanged between the Bands and the MNR, how total allowable catches (TACs) will be calculated, and how breaches of the Agreement will be dealt with.

In late December 2000, the MNR delivered its calculations for TACs to the Band office (which was closed during the Christmas-New Year's break). The MNR then proceeded to enforce its calculations for the area near Meaford without giving the Band a chan ce to reply to its numbers, saying that Nawash fishermen were fishing outside the boundaries of the territory stated in the Agreement. The MNR confiscated Native-caught fish and ordered fish-buyers to stop purchasing fish Native-caught from that area.

Confrontations on the Meaford dock between non-Natives (including a non-Native commercial fishermen and some sportsfishermen) and Native fishermen could have, but did not escalate. The Bands and the MNR have agreed to meet to resolve their disagreemen t over the TAC for the area. The Bands agreed to tell its fishermen to ensure they respected the western boundary of the territory covered by the Agreement.

It is the Saugeen Ojibway's position that the protocols and meetings established by the Fishing Agreement should be used to resolve all disputes between the parties concerning managing the fishery - that is why the Fishing Agreement was negotiated in the first place.

For more on the Meaford dispute, go to:
For background on the Fishing Agreement, go to:
For a Chronology of Events, go to:


The Chippewas of Nawash recruited Dr. Stephen Crawford (currently a professor of zoology at the Axelrod Institute of Ichthyology at the University of Guelph) to help them establish a management plan based on science and traditional knowledge of the fi shery around the Bruce Peninsula. Dr. Crawford has successfully engaged researchers from other universities in studying the fishery. Some of the fruit of those investigations are beginning to show and Dr. Crawford and his colleagues presented 5 papers at the Canadian Conference of Freshwater Fisheries Research (CCFFR) in Toronto, January 2001.

Nawash and Dr. Crawford have extended invitations to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to take part in some of their studies, but MNR researchers have, to date, not responded.

For more information on the papers, go to:
For more on the Nawash's partnerships with other universities: To review some of Dr. Crawford's papers on fisheries management: \


In keeping with two other Fishing Conferences (the first in 1995 and the second in 1998) the 2001 Nawash Fishing Conference will cover a range of significant issues relevant to fisheries managers and Native leaders -- defining conservation, latest bio logical studies, political and legal strategies, comparing situations, networking, establishing alliances.

Invited speakers include Matthew Coon Come (National Chief, AFN), Ovide Mercredi (AFN), Dean Jacobs (Walpole Island), Peggy Blair (lawyer for Jones-Nadjiwon decision), Darlene Johnston (Saugeen Ojibway Land Claims Researcher), Prof. John Burrows (Univ ersity of Toronto Law School), Terry Williams (Tulalip Tribes Washington State), .Dwight Teeple (Chippewas/Ottawa Fisheries Management Agreement), Prof. Bruce Morito (Athabasca University), Prof. Stephen Crawford (Guelph University), Neil Kmiecik (Gre at Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission).

CONFERENCE FEES (Registration covers all meals)
Elders: $50.00 Advance and at the door.
Resource Workers (eg, fishermen, loggers, trappers): $150.00. Advance and at the door.

Advance Registration:
(registration form and cheque must reach Nawash Band Office by March 18th) For First Nations Chiefs/Councillors/Delegates: $165.00
Professionals: $300.00
Resource Workers (eg, fishermen, loggers, trappers): $100.00.

Registration at the Door on first day of the Conference
For First Nations Chiefs/Councillors/Delegates: $200.00
Professionals: $400.00

Registration for single day: $130.00 at the door only.

For more information on the 2001 Conference and a registration form you can print and mail, go to:

CONTACT Eric Johnston at the Nawash Band office
Phone: 519-534-1689 or Fax: 519-534-2130 or E-mail:


"A Good Mind: A Good Life" is the title of this year's Elders' Conference at Trent University in Peterborough Ontario. Invited speakers include: Jan Longboat, Tom Porter, Ernie Benedict, Faith Pegahmagabow, Merle Pegahmagabow, Norm Jacobs, Carol Jacob s, Sylvia Maracle, Stan Peltier, Mark Thompson, Doug Williams

For more information, contact: Vern Douglas (705)748-1072 or Edna Manitowabi (705)748-1466.


The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is continuing its bid to overturn the Ministry of Natural Resources' ban of the Spring bear hunt in Ontario. During the last round (in Superior Court) the OFAH's lawyer, Tim Dansen, persuaded the judges to allow him to call Premier Michael Harris and Natural Resources Minister John Snobelen to the stand to testify. The OFAH is claiming that the ban was ordered in spite of earlier expressions of support for the hunt by the Minister and that the ban was politically motivated because of a successful animal rights lobby.

The OFAH will add another argument: that an Environmental Assessment should have been done on the ban under Ontario's Environmental Assessment Act, since the ban was not a conservation measure.

The OFAH will continue to argue that the ban threatens sportshunters constitutionally protected freedom to express their heritage. For the past several years (the early 1990s when Davison Ankney was President of the OFAH) the organization has been lob bying against the recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights. Members seem to be so annoyed that Native rights are enshrined in the Constitution that the OFAH is prepared to seek any avenue to ensure they have the same rights too. Premier Harris, on ce an OFAH member and long a staunch supporter, has promised he will introduce a Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act, so at least the Province will recognize "sportsmen's rights", even if it can't enshrine them in the Constitution.

The next round in the courts is scheduled for February 26-27th in Provincial Court in Toronto. (The Court is located between Queen and Dundas Streets on the east side of University Avenue). The Hunting and Fishing Heritage Act is expected this Spring.

In spite of the constitutional and environmental questions it raises, the government is not planning public hearings during its debate.

For more on the OFAH's bid for recognition of sportsmen's rights:

David McLaren
Communications Coordinator, Chippewas of Nawash
RR 5 Wiarton ON N0H 2T0
ph/fx: 519-534-4107 e-mail:
Band Office phone: 519-534-1689 fax: 519-534-2130
Visit Nawash on the Web:




From: "David McLaren"
Saugeen Ojibway media release
January 8, 2001

Nawash responds to confiscation of fish at Meaford, Ontario

In view of the heavy media coverage of recent events concerning our fishing activities at Meaford, and in the light of the misguided comments from some of the demonstrators at the Meaford dock, the Chiefs and Councils of Nawash and Saugeen (collectively the Saugeen Ojibway), wish to clarify a number of points:

  1. The current dispute is over allocation - not conservation. Fish stocks are not at risk from the Native harvest.

  2. The Fishing Agreement signed by the two Bands, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs in June 2000, contains protocols for setting mutually agreed TACs (Total Allowable Catches) for each area in the traditional waters of the Saugeen Ojibway covered by the Agreement. The MNR did not follow the protocol in the Agreement when it set an unrealistically low TAC for area 5-8 - the area near Meaford now at issue.

  3. The Agreement also contains protocols for dealing with possible enforcement action. The MNR did not follow the protocol of the Agreement when it confiscated several thousands of dollars worth of fish from Native fishermen on Friday, January 5.

  4. Our fishermen have withdrawn from any areas that might be construed as being east of the boundary of the Band's traditional waters as defined in the Agreement.

  5. The two Chiefs offered to meet with the MNR to resolve the dispute as early as Saturday, January 6 if the MNR agreed to follow the protocols in the Agreement. Instead, the MNR ordered local fish buyers to cease purchasing Native-caught fish and confiscated over a of tonne of fish caught by two Native tugs.

"Had the MNR employed the protocols we had agreed to for resolving TACs and enforcement issues, we most likely could have avoided the unfortunate conflict at the Meaford dock," said Chief Akiwenzie.

Chief Randy Roote: "We feel the Agreement should be used in all disputes involving our fishery - we and the MNR spent a lot of time hammering it out, so let's use it. Obviously we're going to have differences. These kinds of things are going to happen. We must not return to the old way of confrontation, charges, and court."

The two Bands are continuing their assessments of their fishermen's catches (a program started almost as soon as the Jones-Nadjiwon court decision was rendered in 1993). They have expanded their assessments to research projects, many of which are being done in partnership with staff from the Universities of Toronto, Guelph, Laval and McGill.

Chief Ralph Akiwenzie, Chippewas of Nawash 519-534-1689
Chief Randy Roote, Chippewas of Saugeen 519-797-2781
David McLaren, Nawash Communications Coordinator 519-534-4107
Dr. Stephen Crawford, Biologist 519-534-1689 at Nawash 519-519-824-4120 x3544 at U. Guelph

Background to the Saugeen Ojibway Fishery

The road to the Fishing Agreement signed by the Chippewas of Nawash, Chippewas of Saugeen, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in June 2000 took a long time and a lot of hard work. It must be remembered that when First Nations' peoples address an issue, we do so with two or three centuries of history in mind. So it is

with the Mi'kmaq and their fishing rights. So it is with us. The objections of some that the Supreme Court of Canada is handing rights to a few at the expense of many, or that government is allocating resources based on racial criteria (ie, to Natives rather than non-Natives) is hardly credible for us who have lived so long separated from our lands and waters - our resources and economies - by real racist acts and policies. Acts and policies now recognized and identified as such by history, the United Nations, and, thank goodness, by most intelligent Canadians.

A Chronology

Before contact with the Europeans, the culture and economy of the Chippewas of Nawash and the Chippewas of Saugeen (the Saugeen Ojibway) were inextricably tied to their fisheries around the Bruce Peninsula. There is archaeological evidence of trade of fish for goods such as corn from other First Nations.

In 1847, the Saugeen Ojibway, fearful of the ever-aggressive encroachment of European settlers, traders and fishing fleets, petitioned Queen Victoria for a declaration that they owned the Bruce Peninsula and the waters and islands around it. This was granted. Nevertheless, the First Nations of the Bruce Peninsula were squeezed out of their own fishery by the aggressive fishing of US and English commercial operations and the laissez-faire policies of Canada.

By the end of the 19th Century the sturgeon was all but extinct. By the 1950s lake trout stocks had crashed in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The Native fishery was virtually non-existent.

In the 1980s, the Ministry of Natural Resources adopted a quota system to control the increased fishing pressure of large commercial operations. The Chippewas of Nawash fishery was assigned a totally inadequate quota and restricted to a tiny area off the Nawash reserve at Cape Croker. Their share of the commercial harvest was less than 1%.

In June 1993, Judge David Fairgrieve handed down his decision in Jones-Nadjiwon. He found that the two Bands had an aboriginal and treaty right to fish for trade and commerce. He further found that Ontario's quota system had discriminated against the two Bands and violated their Constitutional rights.

Soon after the decision, Nawash began to scientifically assess its fishermen 's catches and to evaluate the MNR's management of the commercial fisheries. The Bands' assessment has now broadened to included research partnerships with several universities. They presented several papers at a recent national fisheries conference held in Toronto, Ontario.

During the summer of 1995 a growing backlash against the decision and the Bands' determination to practice their rights culminated in the vandalism of Native fishing boats (one was burned on Labour Day weekend), the theft of Native nets from the waters where they were set, and attacks on Native people in Owen Sound and Southampton.

In June 2000, seven years after the Jones-Nadjiwon decision, the Bands singed a Fishing Agreement with Canada and Ontario. The Agreement sets out protocols by which the partners will arrive at Total Allowable Catches (TACs) that are conservationally sound. Protocols were established for dealing with issues that might require enforcement by the Band or by the MNR. It was agreed the parties would exchange information each had on the fishery to better manage the fishery together.

More information is available at and at:




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