P.E.I. MLAs stand up for Mi'kmaq fishing rights
‘We're seeing the devastating effects of a lack of communication’
A motion in the P.E.I. Legislature supporting the treaty rights of the Mi'kmaq to a moderate livelihood fishery received unanimous support Tuesday evening.
The motion, by Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and seconded by Green MLA Trish Altass, also condemned violence and harassment against Mi'kmaq in the region who are exercising those rights.
"We're seeing the devastating effects of a lack of communication between our federal government and our aboriginal leaders," Altass told the legislature.
"Government after government at the federal level have ignored the request of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal fishers for years to address the issues surrounding moderate livelihood fishing. Instead of peace and friendship we are now left with fear and division between these two groups."
The right to a moderate livelihood fishery was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999, but the precise definition is dependent upon negotiations between the federal government and Mi'kmaq bands.
Tuesday night's motion urged government to take every necessary measure to ensure the Mi'kmaq on P.E.I. are able to exercise the right to a moderate livelihood fishery safely and without prejudice.
Altass said several commercial fishermen have expressed their fears to her that conservation will not be respected, but she said she is confident these concerns can be overcome with meaningful dialogue.