Donald Marshall leads fishery protest

A year after he made headlines in a court case that now bears his name, Donald Marshall wants to make sure the victory he won at the Supreme Court doesn't go down in Miramichi Bay.

"The flame is almost out and I don't want it to die out," he said, as he and 100 supporters marched in Sydney yesterday. "I guess a lot of our people don't want it to die out either. "

When Marshall appealed his conviction for fishing eel out of season, the Supreme Court decided last September natives have the right to make a moderate living by fishing.

That decision is the reason the Mi'kmaq of Burnt Church, N.B., insist they have the right to fish for lobster when and how they choose.

The government is relying on a later clarification of the decision to say it has the right to regulate all fisheries.

Those conflicting opinions about the fishery are the crux of the dispute, and Marshall says there has to be a peaceful resolution.

"The issue is here and they're going to have to deal with it," Marshall said.

The march through Sydney was intended to be a reminder to the government that the natives believe they are being treated unfairly as long as their treaty right to fish is not being recognized.

Most of the protesters were native but not all of them.

Juanita MacNeil lives in Sydney and says the issue is important to all Canadians.

"Well, it's important to me because if this thing is not resolved there's going to be somebody killed up there (in Burnt Church) and everybody is important," MacNeil said. "We're all Canadians here."

The natives plan to keep up their protest at the annual Treaty Day celebrations in Halifax Saturday.