The chief of a Mi’kmaq First Nation says an angry group of non-Indigenous lobster harvesters damaged lobster pounds holding his people’s catch and burned a vehicle belonging to an Indigenous harvester on Monday night Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The chief of a Mi’kmaq First Nation says an angry group of non-Indigenous lobster harvesters damaged lobster pounds holding his people’s catch and burned a vehicle belonging to an Indigenous harvester on Monday night Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Indigenous fishers in Nova Scotia have lobster taken, van burned as tensions heighten: chief

Video being circulated on social media shows a van being set alight

The chief of a Mi’kmaq First Nation says an angry group of non-Indigenous people damaged lobster pounds holding his people’s catch and burned a vehicle on Tuesday night.

Video being circulated on social media shows a van being set alight in West Pubnico, N.S., during one of the tense encounters.

Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation says damage occurred at two locations, one in West Pubnico and the other in the Weymouth area, and lobster caught by the Indigenous fishers was removed from lobster pounds.

“Local fishermen attacked two lobster buying facilities and did a lot of damage, burned vehicles, took lobsters,” Sack said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Whatever they wanted to do, happened.”

Sack said two Indigenous harvesters were at the lobster pound in West Pubnico when people broke a door, a van was burned and their catch was taken away.

“My reaction is, I can’t believe how they are getting away with these terrorist, hate crime acts and the police are there,” he said.

“I called an emergency meeting with my council this morning, and we’re trying to figure out our next steps to figure out what we’re going to do to ensure our people’s safety.”

The RCMP were present for some of the incident but did not have official comment Wednesday morning on what had occurred.

The Indigenous fishers are conducting a fishery outside of the federally regulated season based on a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision that ruled East Coast Indigenous groups have the right to fish for a “moderate livelihood,” though a second ruling stated this was subject to federal regulation.

Since the Mi’kmaq fishery opened last month, there have been tensions on and off the water, with traps hauled from the sea by non-Indigenous harvesters and a boat belonging to a Mi’kmaq fisherman burned at a wharf.

Sack says he has contacted federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan about the growing strife as well as the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

The chief says the latest incidents began to unfold Tuesday evening as he was meeting with the 11 lobster harvesters his band has licensed for a moderate livelihood fishery in St. Marys Bay. Each of their boats uses about 50 traps in the inshore fishery, while commercial Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers who operate beginning in late November use between 375 and 400 traps.

Sack says that as the Indigenous fishers were meeting, they heard of the incidents at the holding pounds, and some of the Indigenous fishers went to the locations. The chief said nobody was hurt in the incidents, but there were confrontations and shouting at the scenes.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

fishingIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

Dan Stuart (Christian Heritage Party - BC photo)
Strong values underpin Christian Heritage Party candidate

He’s also suspicious of the COVID-19 pandemic

Advance polling begins on Oct. 15, 2020, across B.C. in the 2020 snap election. (Black Press files)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Advance voting in Vanderhoof begins today

Advance voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21 in B.C.’s election

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read