The Assembly of First Nations Knowledge Keepers Council supports the rights of Mi’kmaq people to assert their Treaty Right to Fish within their Territory

Published: Dec 01, 2020News

October 22, 2020

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Knowledge Keepers are sending their support to the Mi’kmaq people who are exercising their right to fish and earn a modest living as supported by the Peace and Friendship Treaties from 1752 and 176061, the Royal Proclamation of 1763, s.35 of Canada’s Constitution, and by the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. vs. Marshall.

The current challenges they are facing from the local communities and the surrounding non-Native fishers shows not only a lack of understanding of Treaty rights, but that the escalating violence is racially motivated. The acts of these non-Native fishers to intimidate and deny access to the Mi’kmaq fishers is fundamentally wrong and must be stopped.

The acts of protest and intimidation against the Mi’kmaq men and women are clearly based on racial discrimination. Fishing has always been a way of life, a part of the Mi’kmaq people’s culture, identity and economy, and has been for generations. To call such attention and enact such violence to this practice now is shameful and ignorant.

The Mi’kmaq are simply asking Canada to honour their inherent and Treaty rights and the decisions of Canada’s own courts to continue with their right to Fish. Why are they being denied? This right has all been clearly outlined and confirmed by the 1999 Marshall decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. It should not be questioned. The Canadian government has a duty to act in support of the fishers.

Why are the Mi’kmaq being deprived of the opportunity to exercise their rights? This issue must be addressed immediately to ensure that First Nations people have the means to provide for their families and continue the fall lobster harvest.

The Fishermen and women fish with their families. The violence that the demonstrators are enacting against the Mi’kmaq is nothing short of assault and must be treated as such. They have destroyed Mi’kmaq traps and boats; this cannot be tolerated. The verbal intimidations and violent activities are clearly racially motivated. These actions are disgraceful and must be stopped immediately.

The Treaties must be respected. At present, the Mi’kmaq People are not safe in their own homes and on their own territory. Law enforcement needs to be proactive in protecting everyone and not just those who they deem deserving of protection. People are in danger. Why is Canada looking the other way and not stopping these acts of violence? The lack of response from the RCMP is very telling.

We will continue to support the Mi’kmaq until the proper action is taken to ensure the safety of their people and their Treaty rights. We demand that the federal government uphold and honour all Treaty relationships with First Nations in Canada. Know that the eyes of all Indigenous peoples are on you, Canada.