Mi’kmaw harvesters hold rally outside DFO headquarters in Dartmouth

Mi’kmaw fishers and their supporters held a gathering in front of the Atlantic headquarters for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Thursday.

Mattio Labrador of Acadia First Nation organized the event.

“DFO needs to be stopped, the government needs to be stopped,” he said. “It’s come down to, we have to take our land back, let’s, we’re taking it back, we’re taking our waters back.”

Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters who were fishing under their treaty had their gear seized by DFO officials recently. Some were arrested.

The department says the Mi’kmaw harvesters are violating the Fisheries Act.

Matt Cope of Millbrook First Nation had over 60 traps seized last year and is now facing charges.

“They want to not honour the obligations and the treaties that they made, and I think it’s absolutely ridiculous and I think it’s nothing short of an act of war,” he says.

Noah Johnson of Potlotek First Nation says the fisheries officers are aggressive.

“It’s honestly to the point I think, the Mi’kmaw fishermen, and fisherwomen are going to take action into their own hands,” he says. “We are not safe from the government of Nova Scotia, they criminalized our treaties.”

The Mi’kmaw fishers say they’ll continue to assert their treaty rights.

Former DFO minister Bernadette Jordan was defeated in the Sept. 20 federal election.

The new cabinet has not been named yet.

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