March 4th, 2021
Government failing to support Mi’kmaq fishers and uphold their treaty rights: NDP
NDP Critic for Fisheries and Oceans, Gord Johns, made the following statement on Sipekne’katik moderate livelihood fishery:
Yesterday’s decision by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to ignore the Sipekne’katik First Nation’s Treaty right to establish self-government and to launch a moderate livelihood fishery is further evidence that the government is not committed to a true nation-to-nation relationship with Sipekne’katik First Nation and other Mi’kmaq Nations.
While discussions about a longer-term Rights Reconciliation Agreement (RRA) are ongoing, the Minister has made clear that her priority is to uphold a system that continues to undermine Sipekne’katik rights to a moderate livelihood fishery.
The federal government is failing to take meaningful action on the systemic racism apparent in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Just weeks ago, we learned that DFO knew violence was likely to occur against Mi’kmaq fishers, and they chose to do nothing to keep fishers safe. New Democrats are concerned that yesterday’s decision made by the Minister will be used to justify further violence against Mi’kmaq fishers practicing their Treaty rights despite condemnations from all parties that such violence is unacceptable.
It is crucial that the minister commit further resources in Budget 2021 to keep Mi’kmaq fishers safe.
New Democrats recognize and support their decisions to start their fishery outside of the DFO commercial season for safety reasons and to suit their fishing boats. The Minister must continue meaningful dialogue with Sipekne’katik First Nation on their Treaty right to a moderate livelihood fishery and also acknowledge that the decision to enforce existing rules is a continuation of colonial inequity and injustice.