Treaty Six Grand Chief joins call for RCMP commissioner's resignation
Hundreds rallied outside the RCMP headquarters in north Edmonton in support of Mi'mkaw lobster fisherman
Chief Billy Morin of Enoch Cree Nation reiterated First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde's call for the resignation of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki in a rally in Edmonton on Saturday.
Around 200 people gathered in front of the RCMP building for Edmonton in a nationwide solidarity march with the Mi'kmaw lobster harvesters of Nova Scotia to assert their inheritance right to fish. The march is held following weeks of tensions in southwest Nova Scotia where the RCMP have been accused of not doing enough to defend Mi'kmaw fishers against arson and abuse.
"I think it's becoming a pattern with Commissioner Lucki. This is not just one incident where she has dropped the ball and quietly stood by when Indigenous rights and treaty rights were not being upheld," he said.
"I fully support National Chief Perry Bellegarde's call for her to step down."
He said he was there to lend his support as a leader to uphold, defend and lobby for treaty rights.
"And whether that's the RCMP in Edmonton or whether the RCMP in Nova Scotia or anywhere in Canada, they need to hear the voices of the people that things are not going good right now," he said.
"It's not good enough to just stand by and watch as people's property gets burnt down and treaty rights get violated."
A landmark 1999 Supreme Court decision affirmed the right of First Nations people on Canada's East Coast to earn a "moderate livelihood" from fishing. The court later said the federal government could regulate those fisheries but must justify any restrictions placed on them.
On Oct. 14, two lobster facilities in Middle West Pubnico, N.S, where Mi'kmaw fishermen store their catches were vandalized by several hundred commercial fishermen and their supporters. Days later, one of the facilities, located in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., was destroyed in a fire that RCMP have deemed suspicious.
On Oct. 23, in a Twitter thread, Chief Bellegarde said that he will be writing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "to remove Commissioner Lucki and to replace her with someone who will focus their attention on public safety and combating racism."
Morin said the role of the federal government is to uphold the law. "We are treaty people first, but we're also defined as Canadians under their law, and they're currently failing us in that regard," he said.
The rally's co-organizer Ashleigh Cardinal said they decided to march in front of the RCMP headquarters in north Edmonton, because the mistreatment of Indigenous people is getting "alarmingly scary" and the RCMP is not doing enough to stop it.
"They're basically standing by and watching and allowing violence to ensue. And it's not just in Nova Scotia, it's all over Canada," she said.
A solidarity march was also held in Calgary on Saturday. That march saw more than 100 demonstrators walk across the city's Reconciliation Bridge.