THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, on behalf of the Executive Council, has expressed support for the Sipekne’katik First Nation who are facing harassment on St. Mary’s Bay in Nova Scotia for asserting their Treaty right to fish:
“I’m very disturbed by the aggression we are witnessing against Sipekne’katik First Nation, and I support Chief Mike Sack and these brave warriors for defending their Treaty rights.
It is unacceptable that the constitutionally protected rights of the Sipekne’katik fishers are being denied through harassment and intimidation. We strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by those seeking to sabotage the Sipekne’katik’s moderate livelihood fishery, and I applaud these fishers for remaining peaceful under such difficult circumstances.
The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the Sipekne’katik Treaty right to support themselves by fishing and hunting. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan must act swiftly to ensure the safety of these fishers and work with leadership to implement this ruling.”
A 1999 decision by the Supreme Court (R. v. Marshall) upheld the Mi’kmaw Treaty right to barter and trade resources from fishing, hunting and gathering. Deals have been negotiated by the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans granting the Mi’kmaq to access the commercial fishery through communal licenses operated by the bands, but the Marshall Decision has not been fully implemented.