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Fri Oct 23, 2020, 05:58 PM

In 'Lobster War,' Indigenous Canadians Face Attacks by Fishermen

A battle over the lucrative lobster industry in Nova Scotia has become the latest flash point in a series of abuses of Indigenous people in Canada.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/20/world/canada/nova-scotia-lobster-war.html



Jason Marr, an Indigenous lobsterman in Nova Scotia, was unloading his live catch at a storage facility last week when, he said, an angry mob of 200 commercial fishermen began pounding on the door, screaming to be let in. Terrified, he barricaded himself inside a cold storage area, waiting for more than 90 minutes for police officers to respond to his call for help, as the crowd outside tossed rocks and a man urinated on the passenger seat of his van parked outside. When the authorities finally did arrive at the plant, Mr. Marr’s ordeal was not yet over. As several officers surrounded him, he said, the commercial fishermen formed a human chain and began passing crates of lobster from the building to the shoreline, dumping more than 3,000 pounds of his live lobsters. Then, just days after the plant was ransacked, it was burned to the ground this past weekend, and the fire is being investigated as arson, rattling a sleepy community whose local economy depends on fishing.

“It feels like they have declared a lobster war against us,” said Michael Sack, chief of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, whose lobster fishermen were targeted in the attacks and who himself was assaulted last week when a commercial fisherman lunged at him during a protest at a lobster facility. “I believe that systemic racism is at play,” he added, noting that local suppliers were refusing to sell his people fuel, bait or traps. The recent violence in southwestern Nova Scotia is part of escalating tensions over Canada’s lucrative lobster trade. On one side are commercial fishermen who say that Indigenous fishermen are threatening their livelihoods by trapping the crustaceans outside the federally regulated lobster season.

On the other are Indigenous lobstermen who say they are being attacked with impunity for exercising their legal right to hunt and fish, a right negotiated in a centuries-old treaty and backed up by a decades-old court decision. It’s a battle with high stakes. Canada is the world’s biggest exporter of lobster, with about $1.1 billion of lobster sent annually to the United States. Nova Scotia is among the country’s leading lobster producers. The lobster skirmish began last month after the Sipekne’katik First Nation opened its own fishery enterprise and began fishing lobster outside of the federal season, which takes place in the area from Nov. 30 to May 31. Commercial fishermen viewed the Indigenous fishery as a threat to their livelihoods, and acts of sabotage began soon after. A fishing boat owned by an Indigenous fisherman was burned as the conflict turned violent.


The remains of a lobster plant in Middle West Pubnico, Nova Scotia, on Saturday, after it was burned to the ground.Credit...John Morris/Reuters

The Sipekne’katik are part of the Mi’kmaq people, who live in Canada’s Atlantic coast, among other areas. Under a treaty dating to 1752, the Mi’kmaq have a right to hunt and fish to earn a “moderate livelihood.” That right was cemented in 1999 in a ruling by Canada’s Supreme Court. But successive governments have failed to define what constitutes a “moderate livelihood,” and commercial fishermen argue that Indigenous fishing is undermining lobster conservation efforts and, by extension, their business. This fight over lobster is only the latest flash point in a series of abuses against Indigenous people that have spurred a national reckoning about systemic racism in Canadian health care, education and law enforcement. The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made reconciling with Canada’s Indigenous community a priority of his premiership in a country where they have been deprived of land, resources and food over the centuries. In 2018, Mr. Trudeau acknowledged the nation’s past “humiliation, neglect and abuse” of the country’s 1.4 million Indigenous people.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Oct 23, 2020, 06:04 PM

1. Not all fishermen (and women) of course, but there is a large enough streak of racism to be awful.nt

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Oct 23, 2020, 06:05 PM

2. jesus christ...Canadian assholes are REALLY assholes...

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Oct 23, 2020, 06:12 PM

3. The cops didn't show up for an hour and a half in this incident

That tells me a lot.

There are streaks of racism everywhere.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Oct 23, 2020, 06:13 PM

4. No call for violence and destruction. But I don't know if the tribe should

be allowed to take lobsters for commercial sale/export all year round, basically, when non-native fisherman can't. Because then wouldn't they be over-harvested in a short amount of time? Seems like Canada should review the treaty and maybe set some limits here.

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Response to BusyBeingBest (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 23, 2020, 06:17 PM

6. I suppose they could sign a new treaty...

that would compensate the Native Americans for the lost revenue. But my guess is the same assholes that are pissed off about the native Americans exercising their rights under the current treaty would be the first to cry about their taxes going up.

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Response to BusyBeingBest (Reply #4)

Sat Oct 24, 2020, 12:07 AM

8. As per CBC News the native fisherman

only take 1% of the lobsters. Yes, I said 1%.
Seems to me that is not fair and some "good ole boys" need to stand back and Shut Up.
Yes the treaty is not fair but not in the way some people think. The Court said the Natives could make "Modest living" from their lobster traps. The white guys, shouting the loudest don't believe that the natives should be allowed to sell what they catch, it should be only for personal use. There is so much wrong with the whole thing it should be totally reworked.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Oct 23, 2020, 06:16 PM

5. Racism against Indigenous communities in Canada is nothing new....

it has been and continues to be Canada's shame, not unlike, in some ways, that of the American shame of slavery.

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Oct 23, 2020, 06:18 PM

7. Wow lobster fishers are territorial but this is unCanadian

Ugh

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Sat Oct 24, 2020, 01:14 AM

9. 600 fucking years, and so little has changed.

Fuck..

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