Solidarity with Mi’kmaq assertion of treaty rights

| Statements |

Solidarity Kjipuktuk / Halifax stands in solidarity with the Sipekne’katik First Nation and Potlotek First Nation and wholeheartedly supports Mi’kmaw rights-based fisheries. Our organization also broadly supports the Mi’kmaq assertion of inherent rights and treaty rights. We condemn the settler1 violence with which the exercise of Mi’kmaw treaty rights is being met.

We are all treaty people. Everyone’s presence in Mi’kma’ki—and in the colonial state of Nova Scotia, Canada which is drawn on top of these Indigenous lands and waters—is governed by treaty. Mi’kmaw people have made treaty with neighbouring nations since time immemorial, and between 1725 and 1779 the Mi’kmaq entered into a series of Peace and Friendship Treaties  with the British Crown. These treaties are living agreements which are still in effect today and have legal implications for all people living in so-called Nova Scotia.2 

Among the terms laid out in the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1752 is an ongoing agreement that the Mi’kmaq people will continue to hunt, fish and trade in Mi’kma’ki, stating “it is agreed that the said Tribe of Indians shall not be hindered from, but have free liberty of Hunting & Fishing as usual.”

When Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) stalled for 21 years on the terms of “moderate livelihood” fishery after the Marshall decision, they broke treaty by hindering the free liberty of Mi’kmaw people to fish as usual.

When the DFO and the RCMP stand by without intervening to stop the violence perpetrated by settler fishers in Saulnierville, they are breaking treaty by hindering the free liberty of Mi’kmaw people to fish as usual.

When Canada allowed years of commercial over-fishing which led to massive disruption of ocean ecosystems and species endangerment in waters the Mi’kmaq never ceded or surrendered, they broke treaty by hindering the free liberty of Mi’kmaw people to fish as usual. 

Treaty must guide our relations. Time and time again, the courts and the laws of Canada have affirmed the rights laid out in treaty, yet the actions of the state continue to break and undermine treaty.

Solidarity Kjipuktuk / Halifax joins the Mi’kmaw voices condemning the RCMP and the DFO for their failure to stop the ongoing anti-Indigenous violence and vigilantism. 

Solidarity Kjipuktuk / Halifax calls on the Provincial Government act swiftly to uphold the Peace and Friendship Treaties by amending S.19(1)(b) of the NS Fish Buyers’ Licensing and Enforcement Regulations under the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act, which currently criminalizes the sale of lawfully caught Mi’kmaw livelihood lobster and fish.

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  1. The term settler is used to describe non-Indigenous people living in settler-colonial states, such as Canada.
  2. The term treaty is used as a verb within this statement to highlight the relational, action-based and ongoing nature of these agreements. Approaching treaties only as written documents continues to prioritize Eurocentric understandings of these agreements. However, it must be noted that Peace and Friendship Treaties have also been recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution since 1982 and are formally entrenched in Canadian law.

 

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