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Draft fishery deal possibly a 'historic recognition' of treaty rights: Mi'kmaq chief

Last Updated Nov 29, 2020 at 11:24 am EST

SAULNIERVILLE, N.S. — A Nova Scotia First Nation says it has received a draft agreement on a “moderate livelihood” fishery, which it calls a potentially groundbreaking recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in Canada. 

The chief of Sipekne’katik First Nation says he is reviewing a draft memorandum of understanding he received from the office of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan late Friday.

Mike Sack says the Sipekne’katik Treaty Fishery has the potential to be a “historic recognition” of treaty rights, as it would allow the Mi’kmaq community to legally sell their catch.

Mi’kmaq fishers faced violence and vandalism last month after launching a rights-based fishery in southwest Nova Scotia. 

The attacks prompted widespread condemnation and calls for clarification on Mi’kmaq treaty fishing rights. 

Sack says the agreement would make good on the Supreme Court of Canada’s recognition of Indigenous treaty rights in its landmark 1999 Marshall decision.

The ruling affirmed the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish for a “moderate livelihood,” though it was later clarified by the court that the federal government could regulate the fishery for conservation and other limited purposes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press