UN Commission urges Canada to respond to racist claims in the Mi’kmaq fishery conflict

The United Nations Anti-Racist Commission wants Canada to respond to allegations of racist action against Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq lobster fishermen.

In a letter issued on April 30, the Committee for the Elimination of Racism mentions a case in which members of the Sipekne’katik First Nations encountered violence last fall. The incident was related to a dispute with a non-indigenous fisherman who was accused of fishing outside the federal regulated season by the Mi’kmaq band. The attacks included the destruction of the lobster storage facility used by the band and the vans owned by the band members.

A letter signed by China’s representative, Chairman Yanduan Li, claims that the RCMP and the Federal Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) “have not taken appropriate steps to prevent these acts of violence.”

First Nations, a 1999 Supreme Court Marshall decision confirming the rights of the Mi’kmaq people to fish in the area in pursuit of a “reasonable livelihood,” allows members to fish out of season. Claims to be able to. However, as part of the definition of “moderate livelihood,” there is disagreement between different parties as to whether off-season fishing is permitted. The DFO states that all fisheries must be conducted during the commercial season so as not to interfere with conservation activities.

Professor Ken Coates of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, who wrote a book about Marshall’s decision, criticized his involvement in the UN case.

“Whenever the United Nations plunges into the Indian affair, it’s always very angry and very disappointed,” Coates said in an interview.

Coates said that when the United Nations criticizes countries such as Australia, the United States and Scandinavian countries, they oppose them.

“In the case of Canada, we have a kind of relentless attitude when it comes to the United Nations, which allows the United Nations to be very critical of Canada,” he said.

The United Nations has been the subject of recent controversy after China, Russia and Cuba, a country regularly on the list of oppressors of human rights groups, have won seats on the UN Human Rights Council. Most recently, Iran was elected to the United Nations Commission on Women’s Rights, despite the country’s poor track record on women’s rights.

China, which chairs a committee investigating racist claims against Canada, has recently been declared by the House of Commons to be genocide against Uighur Muslims.

Solution expired

The British crown and the Mi’kmaq people signed a treaty in the 18th century, securing Mi’kmaq fishing rights in the region. The 1999 Marshall Judgment involved a Mi’kmaq man named Donald Marshall Jr., who was arrested for fishing during the holidays, and the Canadian Supreme Court said the treaty would hunt, fish, and “support them.” Engage in other rally activities to maintain a reasonable livelihood.

Coates states that the ruling has brought many benefits.

“This is one of the most successful commercializations of indigenous rights in Canada’s history. Primorskaya Oblast has 1,000 indigenous peoples fishing regularly and living a good life.” He said.

However, the issue of conflicts of interest still needs to be balanced and remains unresolved since the 1999 decision.

“There were long discussions, long conversations, legal threats on both sides … but 22 years is a long time to leave something unresolved,” Coates said.

“People in First Nations are really angry because they see the benefits of First Nations as their loss. By the way, the government is in full compliance with conservation as a top priority.”

Ian Madsen, senior policy analyst at the Frontier Public Policy Center, agrees that the solution has been delayed.

“Before Canada existed, Canada had indigenous peoples. Before Canada, we were fishing in Canada … [federal government has] I just fell into work late. “

Madsen said that clarifying a “moderate life” can move the process forward.

“Mi’kmaq, of course, feels that the treaty gives them a reasonable life and some right to harvest. But what does that mean? We need to better define and calculate it. there is.”

Madsen added that non-indigenous fishermen should not be burdened with government policy failures.

“If they lose their livelihood or suffer serious physical or financial damage, the federal or state government needs to compensate them,” Madsen said. “They are, of course, upset and some have taken violent behavior to an unbearable level, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t without serious complaints either.”

Despite recent tensions, Coates said that interracial harmony has actually grown.

“The irony is that things are getting better and much better. Those commercial fishermen who are non-indigenous people are spending more time with water together. [with aboriginals].. They are on a boat together. They are repairing each other’s boats, “Mr. Coates said.

“Things are actually working very well and, in fact, are much better than expected in 1999.”

With files from Canadian Press