A Mi’gmaq Nation in eastern Quebec says that officers with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) violated its jurisdiction by entering the community without permission.
“DFO Canada knows that, and they are not allowed into this community although it’s their jurisdiction, but it’s not their jurisdiction this is our territories, this is our lands, our community,” said Paul Jacques, a checkpoint supervisor for the community’s COVID-19 response.
“Nobody’s allowed in here if you’re not invited.
The bad blood between Listuguj and DFO goes back to 1981 and the salmon raids.
That’s when Quebec provincial police came into the community to stop Mi’gmaq fishers from salmon fishing on the Restigouche River.
Jacques remembers that raid well – it’s an old wound that hasn’t been forgotten.
So when DFO officers entered the community on May 22 to check on the boats on the wharf, he reacted.
“He said he’s coming in to check the boats, to see if there’s any nets on the boats and to see if there is any salmon on the boats,” said Jacques. “I told him there’s no nets on the boats and there’s no salmon because nobody’s fishing, there’s nobody fishing here, fishing for salmon.”
The chief of council of Listuguj said in a notice published to the community that DFO officers need consent before entering – and at no point were they given access.
“We’ve been managing our own river here for quite some time and we have our own community law, and the DFO coming in without permission is a violation of our law and our jurisdiction,” said Listuguj Chief Darcy Gray.
Officers left the community after Jacques asked them to leave.
APTN News contacted DFO for a response to the incident but nothing was received by the time this story was posted.