Mi’kmaw chiefs say DFO only looking out for non-Indigenous fishers

APTN News (Canada)
Pub Date: 
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 06:57

Mi’kmaw chiefs appearing before a looking into fishing rights say the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is not upholding its treaty obligations and is only looking to appease non-Indigenous fishers rather than implementing Mi’kmaw rights.

George Ginnish, chief of Eel Ground First Nation in New Brunswick said the Mi’kmaw were recently offered rights reconciliation agreements which would mean as part of the signing process, they would agree not to assert their treaty rights for another 10 years.

“We have not treaty fished for 21 years and to ask us not to do that for another ten while dangling some additional moneys in front of us is an insult,” Ginnish told the federal fisheries committee Monday.

The governmental recognized right for the Mi’kmaw to earn a moderate livelihood from the water stems from the 1999 Supreme Court ruling known as the Marshall decision.

Ginnish, and other Mi&;kmaw chiefs, said instead of helping to  establish a treaty based fishery, the DFO has looked to suppress Mi’kmaw treaty rights even further.

The DFO’s response to the Marshall decision, according to Ginnish, was to offer money to the Mi’kmaw to advance the purchase of licences, vessels and gear from existing fishers so that they could participate in the existing commercial fishery “under DFO’s rules.