The members of our coalition are appalled by acts of violence and intimidation against Mi’kmaw fishers exercising their Constitutionally protected, legally affirmed, inherent and Treaty rights. The federal and provincial governments bear responsibility for their long-standing failure to ensure that rights affirmed by the Supreme Court 21 years ago are protected and respected.
It is our hope that the shocking events of recent weeks can still lead to a positive outcome for the Mi’kmaw people and their Treaty partners. This is a test of Canada’s commitment to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration, adopted as a global standard eight years after the Supreme Court 1999 Marshall decision, provides important guidance for moving forward in what the Declaration calls “a spirit of partnership and mutual respect”.
Mi’kmaw fishers must be able to exercise their inherent and Treaty rights to catch and sell lobster free from threats to their own safety and to their property. These rights must be interpreted and applied in a manner consistent with Canada’s obligations under the Declaration and the Constitution of Canada, to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples – and not be used as an excuse to further entrench poverty and economic marginalization.