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Council of Canadians’ statement on Mi’kmaq assertion of the right to fish for a moderate livelihood

The Council of Canadians supports the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood, protected by the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760/61, reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada with the Marshall decisions of 1999.

The federal government has had 21 years to work with Mi’kmaq Nation to address this need, and has failed to do so. It has repeatedly referred to the sale of fish by treaty rightsholders outside of the DFO regulated fishing season as “illegal.” This is a dangerous mischaracterization that has fed into tensions between non-Indigenous and Indigenous fishers.

The Council of Canadians is calling on the federal government, specifically Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, to protect the Mi’kmaw fishers exercising their treaty rights. The Federal government must clarify to the public that exercising treaty rights is entirely legal. Ministers Jordan and Bennett must continue actively working with the Mi’kmaq Nation towards implementation of a moderate livelihood fishery. The Federal government has a responsibility to prevent further violence and restore peace and safety for Indigenous fishers.

We ask our members and supporters to be in solidarity with treaty rightsholders and to call for a swift and peaceful resolution to this conflict. Please click here to learn more about how to support Indigenous fishers.