Liberal cabinet ministers on Monday condemned the “disgusting” violence against Mi’kmaq fishing compounds in Nova Scotia and vowed to protect their treaty right to fish for a “moderate livelihood” that has become the focus of mob attacks from non-Indigenous fishers.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair made a plea to the public for anyone with video or information about the threats being made against Mi’kmaq fishers or the violence on their fishing compounds to come forward, saying “I want all Canadians to know we are taking these threats and the violence that has taken place very seriously.”
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller vowed the government will uphold the right of the Mi’kmaq to fish for a “moderate livelihood,” which was recognized by the Supreme Court’s 1999 Marshall decision, but never formally defined.
Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan also said the work to define that is underway but said federal officials and Indigenous communities need space and peace to be able to work towards a shared definition of that.
The increased attention from Ottawa comes after a lobster pound that stored the catch of Mi’kmaq fishers burned to the ground on Saturday morning. A man described as a person of interest in the blaze is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The Mounties have made two arrests in relation to other incidents linked to the dispute, charging one man with assault against a local Indigenous chief and charging another with arson for allegedly burning a vehicle.