The British Columbia Federation of Students stands in solidarity with the Mi’kmaq and strongly condemns the varying uses of violence directed at Mi’kmaq property and their members for operating within their rights given to them by the settler-state. For far too long we have witnessed that the letter of the law and the enforcement of it seems to only apply when it is in the interest of settlers against Indigenous people instead of providing protection and support as stated in such laws.
The 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision, R. v. Marshall, clearly states that Mi’kmaq peoples have the right to hunt, gather and fish to earn a moderate livelihood. This ruling re-established inherent fishing and hunting rights in order to ensure that Indigenous fisherfolk could feed their families and be able to earn an income year-round.
The ruling states that the Department of Fisheries will be the final arbiter regulating conservation of local stocks. The Mi’kmaq nation has proven their effective conservatory practices time immemorial. This conflict is not a conservation problem; this conflict is exposing the racial injustices that Indigenous people face daily alongside the continuous colonial project we see in Canada. Under any other circumstance the destruction of private property would quickly be addressed with charges being brought against the perpetrators.
The BC Federation of Students calls on the Government of Canada and Government of Nova Scotia to fulfill their legal obligations to treat all peoples within Canada equally and uphold the ruling of the Supreme Court. We are asking for a peaceful resolution, where all parties can sit down and discuss how to move forward equitably to ensure the safety of the Mi’kmaq people.
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