Canada’s unions call for immediate federal action to uphold treaty rights of Mi’kmaq Fishers

October 19, 2020

Canada’s unions are condemning the illegal efforts of non-Indigenous fishers to sabotage the inherent rights of the Mi’kmaq people to hunt, fish and gather off the coast of Nova Scotia, and are calling on the federal government to take immediate action to end the racist violence and uphold their treaty rights.

“We are appalled and outraged by the relentless attempts to disrupt and undermine the Mi’kmaq fisher fleets and their right to a moderate livelihood as guaranteed by the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. 

“We are also alarmed that even in the midst of the escalating violence by non‑Indigenous fishers, there have been troubling reports of the RCMP’s failure to protect the Mi’kmaq people, further entrenching a relationship of distrust between Indigenous communities and law enforcement,” added Yussuff. “This points to systemic racism that cannot be left to stand. Law enforcement must take the appropriate actions to end the violence.”

All levels of government have a duty to uphold the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples, as per section 35 of the Constitution, the Peace and Friendship Treaties, and relevant court decisions. Canada’s unions call on the federal government to:

  1. Uphold the rule of law and respect treaty rights. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans must negotiate in good faith with the Sipekne’katik First Nation representatives, to work out a reasonable solution to the fishery dispute that respects the Marshall Decision;
  2. Address the threats, attacks and discrimination against Mi’kmaq people; and
  3. Ensure the safety and security of Mi’kmaq people as they exercise their legal treaty rights.

Justice for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) peoples is long overdue, and Canada’s unions are committed to ensuring the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are fully implemented. Reconciliation is only possible when the rights of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples are fully respected.

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