Mi'kmaq win recognition of treaty; Marshall acquitted

The Mi'kmaq have won a striking victory at the Supreme Court of Canada. The court has upheld a 1760 treaty between Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia and the British Crown.

Donald Marshall Junior was convicted of catching eels out of season and selling them without a license. A lower court rejected his argument that fishing regulations don't apply to the Mi'kmaq because of the treaty.

The Supreme Court has ruled the treaty affirms the band's right to fish and hunt and sell those products. It also says Marshall should be acquitted.

Dan Christmas is the executive director of the Union of Nova Scotia Indians.

"There's been obvious relief and joy that an ancient treaty of 1760 (and 1761) has been recognized. We've felt over the last many years that there have been a lot of unfulfilled promises to the Mi'kmaq and we've lived under a cloud of unfulfilled promises. To have the court make a ruling and say those ancient promises apply today, I think that's a great relief to us."

The Union's lawyers believe the ruling will allow Mi'kmaq new freedom to earn their living in resource industries such as lobster fishing and logging.