In the fall of 2020, the Mik’maw lobster fishers enacted their treaty rights and took to the waters. According to Treaty 1752 and the Supreme Court Marshall Decision of 1999, the Mi’kmaq have the right to fish outside of the state legislated lobster fishing season to create a moderate livelihood. For over 20 years, the state has delayed negotiations that would define what a moderate livelihood means, subsequently denying the treaty rights of the Mi’kmaq. In September 2020, the Sipekne’katik First Nation decided enough was enough, they were tired of the governmental delay in ensuring their rights, and they opened their season. In response, non-Indigenous people attacked the Mi’kmaq lobster fishers, cutting traps, sinking boats, assaulting people, burning down a Mi’kmaw lobster pound, and daily threatening the Mi’kmaw lobster fishers and their allies. Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans responded inadequately and enabled the violence to continue.
CPT has written this human rights report as a snapshot of the violence experienced by the Mi’kmaw lobster fishers in 2020. Nearly a year later, another lobster fishing season is upon us. Already the Mi’kmaw lobster fishers have received threats of violence.
At CPT, our message is clear: We are watching! And we demand that the Mi’kmaq are able to enact their treaty rights unimpeded by settler violence or state bureaucracy.