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Support for Mi'kmaq shown in Sturgeon Falls

An information picket Friday 1 to 3 p.m. on the sidewalk along TransCanada Highway (Updated with photo of demonstration)

Alex Maloney is a long way from his Mi’kmaq home in the centre of the lobster storm in Nova Scotia, but he’s showing his support in Sturgeon Falls this afternoon.

Maloney, husband to Priscila Goulais of Nipissing First Nation, will be joined by several local Indigenous allies for a sidewalk protest on Main Street to help educate people about the issues.

“That’s my home,” Maloney said of Sipekne’katik First Nation, describing how his fellow community members are facing angry mobs of non-Indigenous lobster fishermen opposed to them exercising their right to fish commercially despite it being supported by a Supreme Court decision.

“I just want to say that Canada should honour its treaties and ... the harassment, the violence and the racial violence that's going on has to stop,” he said.

“I'm going to go out to the highway out there and a few people from Nipissing are going to come and join me, I hope, if the rain holds off,” Maloney told BayToday. “I just want to let people know the RCMP are not doing their job and what we’re doing (the Sipekne’katik fishermen) is not illegal.”

Audio clips of the interview with Maloney are below. He talked about how the police were slow to respond when two Indigenous men were trapped in a building with 200 angry non-Indigenous outside throwing rocks and vandalizing their vehicle.

He also described how the lobster used as examples of poor harvest were actually frozen from the year before and belonged to the non-Indigenous harvesters. Maloney said the RCMP sent tactical squads and snipers out when his community protested shale fracking about seven years ago but didn't do anything when assaulted by non-Indigenous fishermen.

Nipissing Chief Scott McLeod is among those who said they will join Maloney on the sidewalk near the Metro grocery store from 1 to 3 p.m. Drivers of vehicles on the TransCanada Highway will see Maloney's bright orange placards as Highway 17 follows Main Street through Sturgeon Falls.

Nipissing First Nation issued a statement Thursday stating it “stands with our Mi’kmaq relatives and supports them in exercising their inherent treaty-protected rights, and constitutionally affirmed Aboriginal right to fish. We call on the federal government to defend the rights of the Mi’kmaq, and end the unchecked display of systemic racism in Nova Scotia that is sending a strong (and wrong) signal to all Indigenous people."

The escalation of the situation, including the burning of a lobster facility, boat, and van is the fault of the government and police not doing anything, it states.

“The lack of action from government and law enforcement has fuelled the crisis and incited violent and destructive criminal acts against Mi’kmaq fishers in recent weeks.

“The assault of Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation came the day after commercial fishers surrounded Mi’kmaq fishers in a lobster storage facility, stole their catch, and set a van on fire. A few days later, the lobster storage facility was burned to the ground in a massive fire,” it states.

“The world watched as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) seemed to turn a blind eye to racial violence, vandalism and threats towards Mi’kmaq fishers … The RCMP let the Mi’kmaq down by failing to protect them.”

Chief McLeod urged Canadians to let their leaders know they oppose racial violence and expect the RCMP to protect people of all colours when attacked by mobs regardless of how they feel.

“Canada is a country of great people of all colours, but it will only be as great as its leadership. Be informed, be vocal, be an ally and help make Canada the country you want it to be.”

See the full statement HERE.

The Anishinabek Nation, which has its headquarters on Nipissing First Nation territory between Sturgeon Falls and North Bay, also issued a statement on the issue.

““The Mi’kmaw lobster dispute in southwestern Nova Scotia is yet another example of systemic racism and oppression against Indigenous people,” states Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. “We have called upon the Prime Minister and all of the Premiers of every province to develop and implement plans in their province to put an end to systemic racism. We now call upon every occupant of these lands to stop hurtling hateful, racist remarks to each other in Nova Scotia. This has deeply impacted the lives of Mi’kmaq citizens who are simply trying to earn a living—provide for their family— and exercise their inherent rights protected by treaties, to hunt and fish in their territories.”

See the full statement HERE.

Dave Dale

About the Author: Dave Dale

Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who covers the communities along the Highway 17 corridor Mattawa to West Nipissing. He is based out of BayToday
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