Mi’kmaw harvesters vow to keep fishing despite harassment from DFO officials

National chief surrounded by DFO while treaty fishing on Mi’kmaw boat.

The crew of the Sadie C, a Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaw lobster boat was out on the bay exercising their treaty rights when it was surrounded by six zodiacs and one large coast guard vessel.

The crew dropped ten traps, which the fisheries officers immediately seized.

Marcel Marr, captain of the Sadie C, says he will keep fishing.

“Someone’s got to stand here and fight the fight so it might as well be me if I want further generations or my children to participate in our aboriginal fisheries,” says Marr.

Mi'kmaw harvesters
Harvesters aboard the Sadie C watch was DFO officials surround the boat. In the distance a grey zodiac can be seen. Photo: Angel Moore/APTN.

APTN News was on the boat and recorded the incident.

It’s one in a long list of Mi’kmaw harvesters attempting to exercise their treaty rights under the Peace and Friendships Treaties to fish for a moderate livelihood.

Marr and his crew argued with fisheries officers earlier that day at  Saulnierville wharf.

The officers said the tags were not recognized by the Department of Fisheries and the traps would be seized.

Marr and his family still went fishing,

“Regardless of their situation I decided to remove the tags and fish under a moderate livelihood for my aboriginal treaty inherent right,” says Marr.

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Mi’kmaw Fishing Rights 

This was the same day, Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald was on the wharf giving a speech in support of the Mi’kmaw fishers and treaty rights.

About 100 people attended the event, including chiefs form P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

“Promoting peace by respecting first nations sovereignty and jurisdiction respect and peace go hand and hand otherwise unhealthy conflicts will continue as we have seen here on the east coast,” says Archibald.

After the speeches, Archibald,  Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack and the other chiefs went treaty fishing on the band’s commercial boat Momma Ain’t Happy.

The crew hauled about 150 pounds of lobster. On the water, the Coast Guard and zodiacs could be seen on the horizon.

Sack tells reporters he did not expect fisheries officers to intervene.

“Just picking on the small person right really trying to hit our people in the pocket and its very unfortunate you know they had an opportunity to get a bunch of chiefs, a National Chief and they chose not to,” says Sack.

Mi'kmaw harvesters
National Chief RoseAnne Archibald on board a Mi’kmaw fishing boat. Photo: Angel Moore/APTN.

After Sack and Archibald left the area, the Sadie C was on the water treaty fishing, and were surrounded by fisheries officers.

Archibald, hearing about the Mi’kmaw fishers in distress, came back and boarded a Mi’kmaw zodiac manned by Sipkne’katik protectors.

Archibald observed the fisheries officers on six zodiacs and one coast guard vessel circling the Sadie C.

“The DFO is like banging up against the boat, trying to stop us from moving forward that experience I think you know Canadians have to understand that the Mi’kmaw people are really working at just there, asserting their rights and this is what happens to them, it’s absolutely not right and it has to be corrected,” says Archibald.

Jolene Marr is the captain’s sister. She and her family have been fishing for generations.

And fighting for treaty rights just as long. Jolene was glad the National chief witnessed the fight for treaty rights.

“That was such an honor to have her come stand with us, my family and I, as we went and asserted our treaty rights and for her to witness what our people go through on a daily basis,” says Jolene.

Mi'kmaw harvesters
A Canadian Coast Guard vessel pulls up to a Mi’kmaw lobster boat. Photo: Angel Moore/APTN.

Archibald says she will call for the federal government to uphold treaty rights.

“It was really, really upsetting to see their traps being taken from them, they have an inherited treaty rights to do the lobster traps and the DFO is interfering with that and there’s a great injustice that’s happening here right now against the Mi’kmaw people and their fishery,” says Archibald.

DFO says Mi’kmaw harvesters must fish within the commercial season.

Mi’kmaw harvesters on the other hand say they will continue to exercise their treaty rights.

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