March 12, 2021

Message To Community Members On The Government Of Canada’s Position On Moderate Livelihood Fishery On Behalf Of The Chiefs Of Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI)

Dear community members:

Last week Minister Jordan issued a statement that outlined the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) “new path” for First Nations to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. MTI, through our Negotiator, has expressed our displeasure, frustration and concern with the how DFO intends to recognize our constitutionally protected rights.

This is not what reconciliation looks like. This is not a new path. It is another dead end. Since MTI’s inception in 2015, our position on the implementation of a livelihood fishery has been based on the following principles:

  • That the Mi’gmaq should have a much bigger say in the management of the fishery overall;
  • That the livelihood fishery should be a fishery that is governed by the Mi’gmaq collectively, in accordance with our own laws;
  • That livelihood fisheries may have to be carried out at different times and places than the commercial fishery, for valid reasons related to both conservation and public safety.
  • That additional access is needed for the Mi’gmaq to actually earn a livelihood, and that the Minister’s allocation decisions need to reflect that priority.

Whether through deliberate actions or willful ignorance, successive governments have not truly understood the Marshall Decision and what it means for Indigenous Peoples in the Atlantic Region. The Minister’s latest statement continues this approach.

The Mi’gmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati have constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty Rights and that includes a right to a moderate livelihood and recognizes a Nation to Nation relationship between us and Canada. The Fisheries Act and regulations continue to infringe on that right.

The Minister’s unilateral statement and proposed approach shows she does not respect the unique relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of the Atlantic Region and has instead caved to the demands of many fishers who engaged in violence against our brothers and sisters in Nova Scotia and who opposed the implementation of our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. We also believe the statements made by the Minister shows she and her Department are now unable to effectively negotiate with our Nation.

The Chiefs of the member communities of MTI stand in solidarity with the Wabanaki First Nations and their positions on the Government of Canada’s position on the moderate livelihood fishery. We are continuing to work on livelihood fishing plans for our communities, which we intend to implement in the near future, once community engagement is complete. We encourage you to attend our upcoming community sessions on this topic.

About MTI

Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated (MTI) is a not for profit organization created by the Mi’gmag First Nations in New Brunswick. Its objectives include promoting and supporting: the recognition, affirmation, exercise, and implementation of the Aboriginal and Treaty rights; the right of self-determination; political, cultural, economic, educational and social development; justice and equity; wider respect and understanding; and general awareness of its member communities and their Mi’gmaq laws, rights, values, traditions, customs and practices.