KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Close to 1000 people came together this Sunday afternoon at the Grand Parade in downtown Halifax in support of the beleaguered Mi’kmaq fishers along Nova Scotia’s French Shore.
We’ve all seen the horrific images of angry mobs of white fishermen attacking and terrorizing Mi’kmaq fishers, torching their boats and vehicles, and destroying their traps, while stores in the area refuse to serve them and RCMP stand idly by. No wonder so many people refer to Nova Scotia as the Mississippi of the North.
Much like at Friday’s treaty lobster sale, the people who came to the rally wanted to counteract these images, and send a message to the Mi’kmaq fishers that they are not forgotten, that we are all treaty people, and that they are not alone.
That message came through loud and clear.
“This is very emotional for us. When you wake up every morning and worry about your family, you will understand. But this crowd means the world. You are family, you are our brothers and sisters, thank you,” one young woman told the crowd.
Speakers at the rally were all Indigenous, mostly Mi’kmaw, mostly women, and mostly from Sipekne’katik, the First Nation which is asserting its treaty right to conduct a self-regulated lobster fishery in a defined season.
“On the day that we received our moderate livelihood fishing tags, watched my nephew, a captain on one of the little ships, take his tags and hold his hand up proud,” one of the women told the crowd.
“But I’m scared and worried when I see our warriors getting hit, when I see our people having to dive into the water to save their lives. We’re receiving hate.”
“But despite all this, we are not violent. We aren’t lashing out. We’re not spitting profanities. We’re not telling people to go back where they came from.”
See also: News brief: Hundreds of Haligonians come out to buy treaty lobsters
1752FrontLine@gmail.com to donate to frontline supporters
firstname.lastname@example.org to donate to the fishermen – legal fees, trap and gear replacement
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It is with great trepidation that I post this. Fear of causing harm but also fear of being subjected to harm but , as my old man , son of a Cape Breton coal miner who lived through the terrible privations of the miner’s strike against the foreign- owned company enslaving the miners for generations used to say, the only thing one can do and still call oneself a man is to do the right thing and speak the truth no matter the cost to oneself. Here goes. I speak to the oft-stated claim that the commercial fishers are only concerned for the conservation of lobster stocks and their livelihood , which they almost imply to be endangered and hand-to -mouth. A man of my acquaintance, a retired lobster boat crewman, told me two or three years ago that almost every lobster fisher in the Bay of Fundy has an extra , untagged , unlicensed string of traps in the bay. He said they aren’t afraid of being caught because” the plane would have to be right overhead and down low to catch them in the act of pulling them”. They can sell them because there are always buyers ready to do so. And there is direct sale out of a truck as well. He further told me that lots of fishers have as many as 5 or 6 steel safes buried in the backyard as repositories for the extra money undeclared to Revenue Canada. Nice conservation, huh? By their fruits he shall know them. Who is standing up and forthrightly defending their cause in a manly, honest way with no sneaking around burning boats and use of terror tactics? Who is refusing to knuckle under to the rich bullies who act from simple greed? And who is imploring the government to defend their cause using rule of law? The commercial fishers outnumber the defenders 5 or 10 to one. Who damages the stocks? We are all treaty people. The People agreed to SHARE the land and resources , not give them away. We should stand by our word and live up to the agreement our ancestors made.