Thursday afternoon, I joined Memorial University’s Arn Keeling and Dean Bavington for an online Teach-In about the Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaq Fisheries.
Mid-September, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs declared a State of Emergency as a response to the violence occurring over Mi’kmaq fisheries across the province.
The presentation started with a tweet by Jarvis Googoo, describing the meaning of the Mi’kmaw flag.
October is Mi’kmaw History Month. Do you know of the Mi’kmaw flag and it’s meanings? The white denotes the purity of creation. The red cross represents humanity and the four directions. The sun represents the forces of day and the moon represents the forces of night. pic.twitter.com/XjfGWJLeim— Jarvis Googoo (@JarvisGoogoo) October 20, 2020
In an informative slideshow, Bavington explained the history of the Peace and Friendship treaty which states that the Mi’kmaq “shall not be hindered from, but have free liberty of Hunting & Fishing as usual”.
Dalhousie’s Shelley Denny highlights the flaws with the treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood by explaining how it can be used as a way to manage fisheries, “infringing on the rights of Aboriginal Peoples, including the Mi’kmaq”.
In reality, it is not hard to make room for the Mi’kmaq fishery. As shown by this infographic, the M’ikmaq fishery “will not adversely impact lobster populations”.
Disappointed by the government’s response to these attacks, the public is looking for answers.
The history of the Mi’kmaq fishery and a corporate fishing operation named “Clearwater Lobster” is detailed in Robin Tress’s article “Trapped In Conflict: How the Corporate Megafishery Clearwater Has Set the Stage for Violent Conflict in Mi’kma’ki“.
Tress explains how Clearwater Lobsters has been “fishing on unceded, unsurrendered, stolen lands and waters of the Mi’kmaq Nation”, and avoiding consequences due to the operation being favoured by the government.
The presentation ended with a quote from Hannah Martin of the Yellowhead Institute, asking us all to think about what it means to be a Treaty person, in light of the recent events.
“How do we understand our identities as Treaty people? How do we relate to each other? The land? Our shared history? We have a right and a responsibility to tread a new path as we walk into what can be a new, just, future together”.
Right now, we have an obligation to support the Mi’kmaq community in Nova Scotia, by continuously educating ourselves and helping however we can.
To become more educated on the history of the Mi’kmaw fishery and the importance of protecting it, Bavington provides several links.
Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary Is the Crown at War with Us?
Linked below is a document on ways to support this cause, including places to donate, people to contact, voices to amplify, and educational sources.