AFN National Chief Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak and Nova Scotia Regional Chief Andrea Paul Call for Support of First Nations Elver Fishers

Published: Apr 18, 2024News

(April 18, 2024 – Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, Ontario) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak and Nova Scotia Regional Chief Andrea Paul are calling today for support of First Nations elver fishers, who are experiencing a violation of their inherent and Treaty rights as well as abuse at the hands of fisheries enforcement officers.

“The unilateral and unjustifiable closure of the elver fishery by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is a violation of the protected rights of the Mi’kmaq people,” said AFN National Chief Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak. “All governments at all levels must work in good faith with First Nations. We cannot be excluded from the table. We demand First Nations’ active participation in management decisions.”

“The further abuses and indignities inflicted on Mi’kmaq fishers for exercising their rights is unacceptable,” continued National Chief Woodhouse Nepinak. “First Nations have long been subjected to trauma and discrimination at the hands of law enforcement, and federal fisheries officers are following this pattern. It is disheartening to find out about Blaise Sylliboy of Eskasoni First Nation and Kevin Hartling of Membertou First Nation, who were detained by federal fisheries enforcement officers, stripped of their belongings, including cell phones and footwear, and later released, forced to walk the TransCanada highway barefoot after midnight.”

National Chief Woodhouse Nepinak and AFN Nova Scotia Regional Chief Andrea Paul are calling for an acknowledgement of wrongdoing on the part of those fisheries officers, the issuance of a formal apology and an investigation into the matter.

“These men were exercising their protected right to eel fish as part of their livelihood,” said Regional Chief Paul. “Fishing is an integral part of Mi’kmaq culture and secured under Section 35 of the Constitution. These federal fisheries officers demonstrated inhumane abuse and discriminatory use of authority on our people.”


The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern.

Contact information:

Kelly Reid
Senior Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
(613) 292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]