featured Racism

Flo Blackett Apli’kmuj and Margaret Knickle: We are all Treaty People

Tonya Francis Photography

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – What happens when a Mi’kmaw and settler university student share car rides on their way to university and other places? They talk, and the settler learns some hard lessons about colonial oppression, systemic racism and white privilege.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – One time, on our way to a drumming event, Flo pointed out that we don’t have to look very far to witness present day settler colonialism in Mi’kma’ki. She exclaimed “OMG just watch what is unfolding in Saulnierville! Settler fishers are getting away with using violence against the Mi’kmaq in an attempt to undermine our inherent treaty rights. Flo said, “We have always had the right to fish to make a moderate living as well as for personal and ceremonial use. It is a falsehood to believe that the Canadian government or any of the provinces have the authority to regulate or control any aspect of our continued existence here.”

“The Mi’kmaq can govern how our treaty rights are to be carried out. Our rights have been defined in the Peace and Friendship treaties and have also been upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada. The treaties define, among other things, the privilege for settlers to fish on Mi’kma’ki. The settlers are the guests in Mi’kma’ki, and their rights are different from our inherent rights. However, just like in the past, present day settler-colonialism is ignoring all this.”

Do you know what the phrase “We are all Treaty People” means, Flo asked. Well when our ancestors signed treaties, the agreements and benefits that were made were meant for both the Mi’kmaq and the settlers. The treaties were created so that the Mi’kmaq and settlers could share Mi’kma’ki and its resources in equitable and sustainable ways. First the British ignored the intentions behind the treaties, then the Canadian government and now these settler fishermen and women.”

We must critically examine the violation of treaty rights and attacks on the lobster fishers of Sipekne’katik First Nation. It will help us understand how settler-colonialism continues to reveal itself in Mi’kma’ki.

See also: Flo Blackett Apli’kmuj and Margaret Knickle: Children first

With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.

Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!