Sipekne’katik community members stand guard as Canada threatens to remove Treaty Truckhouse

At Saulnierville wharf, a red shipping container has become a fight for treaty rights.

About 30 Sipekne’katik  community members and supporters have surrounded a building on the Saulnierville wharf, the site where the fight for a moderate livelihood fishery started in the fall, to, again, defend their treaty rights.

According to the people on the wharf, located 300 kilometres west of  Kjipuktuk also known as Halifax, they’re waiting for officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) who say the building is un-authorized and must be removed.

Jolene Marr says that will not happen.

“We’ll stay here and have treaty defenders here and treaty rights holders here from today onward if that’s what we need to do to make sure that the truck house stays here,” says Marr.

Treaty Truckhouse
Dorene Bernard helps to stand guard at the Treaty Truckhouse on the Saulnierville wharf. Photo: Angel Moore/APTN.

In the fall, non-Indigenous fishers attacked Mi’kmaw harvesters who were on the water fishing under a treaty right that allows them to earn a moderate livelihood, a phrase coined by the Supreme Court in 1999.

Leaders to date say the DFO has yet to recognize that right – or the right of the Mi’kmaq to set up a building to barter, sell and trade.

On Sunday, grandmothers held ceremony and prayers for the safety of everyone.

Grandmother Dorene Bernard hopes the situation will end peacefully.

“The governments will honour our treaty rights, honour the treaties and of course not to remove the treaty truck house its a symbol of our sovereignty, its a symbol of our self-determination, and rights of indigenous people here on our own land on unceded Mi’kma’ki,” says Bernard.

Sipekne’katik community members say they will stay at the wharf indefinitely, and so is the truckhouse.

The DFO says it’s working with the wharf and Treaty Truchhouse.

“We would like to work collaboratively with the owner toward a solution for the Truckhouse,” says Jane Deeks, spokesperson for DFO Minister Bernadette Jordan. “Our priority is and will remain maintaining the safe operation of the wharf and fostering cooperation between all users.”

Editor’s Note: The story originally said that DFO didn’t respond to a request from APTN News. A comment was received from the minister’s office after the story was published. 

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