RCMP investigating incidents in relation to Mi’kmaq fishery dispute

Nova Scotia RCMP say they have opened “several investigations” in relation to the south shore disputes between Mi’kmaw and non-Indigenous fishers.

Spokesperson Jennifer Clarke told Global News the investigations include incidents of threats, mischief and reports of shots fired last week.

RCMP previously said two people were arrested on assault charges on Friday. The two have since been released from custody.

The Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its own self-managed lobster fishery last week, marking the 21-year anniversary of the affirmation by the Supreme Court of Canada of the right of Indigenous groups in Eastern Canada to hunt and fish for a moderate livelihood.

Five lobster licences have been issued to members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, with each limited to using 50 traps.

The establishment of the fishery has been met with heated opposition by non-Indigenous commercial fishermen. They say the First Nation has no right to launch its own commercial fishery because the fishing season is now closed.

On Sept. 19, Indigenous fishermen set up a blockade of rope and lobster traps at each end of the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., in what they called a security measure.

Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack said on Sunday morning that more lobster traps had been cut at the Saulnierville wharf.

Around 350 traps set by Indigenous fishermen were pulled from the water by non-Indigenous fishermen over the weekend, continuing the long-standing conflict.

On Monday, federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the Mi’kmaq have a constitutionally protected treaty right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.

Jordan and Bennett said in a statement they plan to work with Mi’kmaq leaders on the implementation of the treaty right, given in a 1999 Supreme Court decision.

RCMP could not provide details on new investigations, but says all incidents reported are being investigated.

— With files from Alexander Quon. 

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