Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller immediately referred to as this week’s raid on fishing amenities in southwestern Nova Scotia an “assault” on the Mi’kmaw individuals and urged police within the area to maintain the peace.
His feedback got here as tensions mount over the First Nations lobster harvest in southwestern Nova Scotia. On Tuesday evening, a number of hundred business fishermen and their supporters raided two amenities the place Mi’kmaw fishermen had been storing their catches.
By morning, a van had been set ablaze, a whole lot of useless lobsters had been strewn over the bottom and one facility had been broken.
WATCH | Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller on the tensions within the N.S. lobster fishery
“I cannot end this conference … without addressing the incidents in southwestern Nova Scotia in what amounts to an assault on the Mi’kmaw people,” Miller informed a information convention in Ottawa immediately.
“These unacceptable acts of violence, including the assault on [Sipekne’katik Chief Mike] Sack with threats and intimidation, some racist in nature, cannot and will not fetter the right of the people to pursue a moderate livelihood.”
WATCH | Tensions over N.S. Mi’kmaq lobster fishery escalate
Miller referred to as for calm whereas talks on the federal stage proceed.
“To protect that right, space needs to be afforded to Indigenous leaders to continue discussions with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and [federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan]. And they are not easy discussions, but they must be had and they must be respected,” he mentioned.
“To do so, clearly, our police forces must … maintain the peace.”
The indisputable fact that no arrests have been made thus far in reference to the 2 raids is prompting questions in regards to the RCMP’s response.
Nova Scotia RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce mentioned no arrests had been made as of Wednesday afternoon — however added that officers did witness felony exercise and investigative groups had been being assembled.
In an electronic mail, Joyce mentioned the RCMP has elevated its presence within the space every day because the raids.
‘Protect us,’ says chief
Sack mentioned the federal authorities and the RCMP are letting the neighborhood down.
“You know, they’re sitting in their office, safe as can be, saying we need safety out here. Send enforcement down. Like, do your job. Protect Canadians. We’re all Canadians. Come here, protect us and don’t just tweet about it,” he mentioned.
“It’s come to the point where it’s a matter of, ‘Do our lives matter?'”
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde mentioned on Wednesday that it is time for the RCMP and federal and provincial governments to step in “before someone gets badly injured or possibly killed.”
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs additionally referred to as for fast motion.
“Lives are being put at risk,” Chief Terrance Paul, co-chair and fisheries lead for the Assembly, mentioned in a media launch.
WATCH| Video exhibits piles of lobster strewn over the bottom exterior N.S. lobster pound
“The inactions of the government and RCMP are only providing for more opportunities for people to be injured, or possibly worse.”
Miller mentioned he has seen solely the movies circulating on-line, however what he noticed alarmed him.
“The first job of the police is to serve, protect and to preserve the peace,” he mentioned. “People need to be protected … this is the duty of the police.”
Pointing to the Wet’suwet’en solidarity motion and the associated rail blockades earlier this yr, Miller mentioned it is clear there’s nonetheless work to be achieved on the connection between Indigenous communities and police.
“Police are an integral part of that, and their engagement with the population has been at issue … over the course of this year,” mentioned Miller.
“There are some exceptional people within the police force and there are also some systems that are set by systemic racism that need to be addressed.”
The RCMP’s nationwide headquarters has directed all inquiries in regards to the occasions in southwestern Nova Scotia to the provincial detachment.
Commercial fishery consultant requires calm
NDP fisheries critic Gord Johns accused the federal authorities of turning a blind eye to the state of affairs.
“We’ve been pushing the government to act but still they wash their hands of responsibility when it comes to the actions, and inaction, of the RCMP,” he mentioned. “And they’ve done nothing to give Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials on the ground the direction and mandate they need to fix the situation.
“This is on the federal authorities.”
Colin Sproul, president of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association, called for an end to the violence. He also said the only way to calm the situation is for Ottawa to get involved.
“What I make of the violence that was seen there may be that there are a ton of individuals in Nova Scotia and southwest Nova Scotia and fishing communities throughout Atlantic Canada who’re significantly involved in regards to the sustainability of our fisheries and the continuity of their lifestyle,” he told CBC Nova Scotia.
Sproul said the federal government has handled the situation “abysmally” so far.
“The minister has completely abdicated her position right here to behave and in a task of sustainability and battle decision. And it is actually evident that no one can resolve these issues in St. Mary’s Bay,” he said.
“They must be solved by the minister and so they must be solved in Ottawa instantly as a result of this authorities’s insurance policies are trickling down in Nova Scotia and inflicting chaos.”
Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan told CBC News that she is speaking both to First Nations and to the commercial fish harvesters separately in an effort to find a solution.
“I grew up in a in a rural coastal neighborhood and a fishing neighborhood. I perceive that these that that persons are involved a few change. They’re involved about their livelihoods,” she said.
“The long run sustainability of the business is what we’re working towards, and ensuring that we have now that for generations to return.”
Premier calls on Ottawa to define ‘moderate livelihood’
The province’s southwest has endured weeks of unrest following the launch of a lobster fishery by the Sipekne’katik band outside the federally mandated commercial season.
The band has justified its fishery by citing a 21-year-old Supreme Court of Canada ruling known as the Marshall decision, which affirmed the Mi’kmaw right to operate a “reasonable livelihood” fishery.
The court later said the federal government could regulate the Mi’kmaw fishery but must justify any restrictions it placed on it.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil called on the federal government to better define what a “reasonable livelihood” means.
“No matter how a lot I need to resolve this challenge, I haven’t got any authority to take action. That is why it’s vital for the nationwide authorities to be there,” he said during his own press conference Thursday morning.
“And it is why, in my humble opinion, the chiefs have to deal with the nationwide authorities. And convey the nationwide authorities to the desk and take care of each side.”
Sproul said he’d like Ottawa to pause the fishing season in Nova Scotia while this conflict is sorted out.
“Let’s be clear, they’ve waited for 21 years for a respectable recognition of their rights, however being pressured to take … what is basically a political motion in St. Mary’s Bay to attain that recognition shouldn’t be proper … But it is also not proper that my members or the neighborhood, the fishing communities in Atlantic Canada, are pressured to bear the brunt of that,” he said
“One factor that Chief Sack and myself have agreed on from the beginning is that our points aren’t with one another or Indigenous versus non-Indigenous. Our points are all with the minister and her lack of motion.”