Mi’kmaw leadership in Nova Scotia is divided over moderate livelihood management plans.
“I have distrust in some of the issues at hand, primarily with the fisheries files,” says Terry Paul, chief of Membertou First Nation as he announced his departure from two Mi’kmaw political organizations.
The Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative, known as the KMKNO, and the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs, known as the Assembly.
The KMKNO conducts consultations and negotiations for the Mi’kmaq and the assembly makes the decisions.
Paul held the fishery portfolio for years and negotiated with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to implement a moderate livelihood management plan.
There has been criticism that treaty rights are being negotiated, and the KMKNO dealings are not transparent.
Read More: Mi’kmaw Fishing Rights
Last week, negotiations with the DFO failed, and in a press release, Paul said, “We have attempted to work Nation to Nation but the Federal Government refuses to look beyond their colonial approach.”
The DFO were seizing lobster traps of Potlotek First Nation and Eskasoni First Nation who launched their moderate livelihood plan Oct. 1, and are fishing out of St. Peter’s Bay, Cape Breton in eastern Nova Scotia.
The Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs were asking DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan to call off her officers and let the Mi’kmaw fish in peace while negotiations continued. The DFO continue to seize the moderate livelihood lobster traps.
In a surprise release Wednesday, Paul announced his immediate withdrawal from the two political organizations, which he has played a fundamental role for years.
“My confidence in the operations of the organization have weakened over time,” he said.
Paul has been chief of his community for the last 35 years, was a friend of Donald Marshall Junior, and is a respected leader.
Membertou is the latest First Nation to leave the political organization.
The Assembly now represents 10 of the 13 First Nation communities in Nova Scotia.
Paul is now working with Sipekne’katik First Nation and other communities to implement moderate livelihood fishery.
“Supporting our Chiefs, our communities, and our rights has, and always will be my main priority. When the body that we meet under no longer allows for that support, it’s important to adapt as necessary for our people,” said Paul.
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs issued a press release in response to Chief Paul’s departure,
“We recognize that we are at a critical point in exercising and implementing our treaty rights, which can come with a range of thoughts and opinions. As a Nation, we will have to respect that,” said Chief Sydney Peters of Glooscap /First Nation, and Co-Chair, Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs.
“Because we are stronger together, we will remain open to Membertou and Sipekne’katik coming back to the table, if and when they decide what is best for their communities.”