KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This weekend’s documentary, Martha Stiegman’s In defense of our treaties, looks at the fishers of Bear River First Nation, in Annapolis County, who proudly held on to their treaty rights and insisted on fishing the waters of the Bay of Fundy on their own terms, not on terms imposed by the Department of Fisheries.
We first posted this video in 2016, but with all that’s happening these days in Digby County, not all that far from Bear River, a re-post is warranted. There are lots of similarities, but also some differences, as the kind of fisheries featured in this video is primarily for food.
Amazingly, the Bear River fishers accomplished this while not triggering the kind of violence and racist attitudes that were displayed by DFO officials and non-native fishers during the so-called Burnt Church crisis just a few years earlier, and not that far away.
And the end-result is very special.
“When they talk about community fisheries they really talk about community fisheries,” says Martin Kaye of the Fundy Marine Resource Centre. “A sharing of the product that is caught, a sharing of the revenue that is caught. We don’t have that kind of community in the non-native communities.”
In defense of our treaties is yet another great documentary, made in 2008, by Seeking Netukulimk director Martha Stiegman, and co-produced by Bear River’s Sherry Pictou, who is also featured in the film.
“This whole territory of ours, there are several groups in it,” says Pictou, referring to the non-native fishers. “We are suffering in one way, with our colonial oppression. Those other groups are suffering too, from their forms of corporate exploitation.
“The people that live in this area, I think it’s important that we have some kind of collaborative effort, and say no more.”
Note that this video was made in 2008. I will do my best to find out what’s happening with the Bear River fisheries these days.
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