Indigenous leaders denounce violence against Mi’kmaq lobster fishers in Nova Scotia

By Rosanna Hempel

A Horse Spirit Ride with leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, the Southern Chiefs Organization, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, and the Manitoba Metis Federation marches down Memorial Boulevard on Wednesday, Oct. 21. The ride started at RCMP headquarters and ended at the Manitoba Legislature, where they held a rally voicing their solidarity with Mi’kmaq fishers in Nova Scotia. The leaders unanimously called on the federal government to help resolve the conflict and stand by Mi’kmaq rights. In recent weeks, tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous lobster fishers in Nova Scotia have escalated, arising from a dispute over Indigenous people’s right to earn a moderate livelihood from their catch beyond the usual lobster fishing season determined by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans./ROSANNA HEMPEL
People wait for the rally to begin in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building./ROSANNA HEMPEL
A supporter arrives at the Manitoba Legislative Building behind Indigenous leaders participating in Wednesday’s Horse Spirit Ride. Despite the treaty of 1752, which outlines Indigenous people’s rights, and a 1999 Supreme Court ruling upholding them, some non-Indigenous fishers have vandalized and set fire to Indigenous fisher property in the last few weeks./ROSANNA HEMPEL
More than 100 supporters rally at the steps of the Manitoba Legislative Building, cheering and listening to speeches from several of Manitoba’s Indigenous leaders. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said, “Canada has broken their own constitution by failing to intervene with the protection of our people in Nova Scotia.” Settee said he denounced the RCMP for standing by and doing nothing./ROSANNA HEMPEL
A rider from the afternoon’s Horse Spirit Ride circles in front of supporters./ROSANNA HEMPEL
Opposition Leader Wab Kinew displays a treaty medallion representing his support. “The Mi’kmaq people signed a peace and friendship treaty with the Crown hundreds of years ago, and the Mi’kmaq people have always kept up their side of the bargain to have peace and to have a friendship. And yet today, they’re under attack,” said Kinew.
Manitoba’s Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Kevin Hart announced he is urging the European Union to boycott Canadian lobsters until Mi’kmaq fisher rights are recognized. “The European Union purchases $175 million of Canadian lobster each year. We are going to tell them to make sure that when they purchase lobsters in the future that they are certified Mi’kmaq lobsters,” he said.