Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaq granted injunction preventing interference with treaty fishery

HALIFAX- The Sipekne’katik Mi’kmaq, exercising its treaty right to catch and sell fish for a moderate livelihood, obtained an interim injunction Wednesday banning anyone from restricting Sipekne’katik citizens from accessing two southwestern Nova Scotia wharfs and a lobster pound.

The injunction, issued Wednesday Oct. 21,2020 by Justice James Chipman, prohibits anyone from interferring with the band’s lobster fishing,  tampering with gear and prevents attempts at intimidating and threatening anyone doing business with the Sipekne’katik . It stops anyone from blockading band members from accessing wharves at  Saulnierville, N.S. and Weymouth and the lobster pound in New Edinburgh, N.S.

Court-Order_Oct.-21

The First Nations injunction is an ex parte injunction, that named John and Jane Doe. It allowed them to have a hearing without notice or presence of commercial fishers who have been violently protesting the Mi’lmaq fishery.

The injunction was awarded after Chief Mike Sack warned the community is losing $1.5 million as a result of vandalism, property destruction and an economic industry boycott that forced the band to pull its federally-licensed vessels from the water.

Sack had been expected to testify before the House fisheries committee Wednesday but declined saying the urgency of his people’s situation demands he stay home. “Our community’s in crisis. We have lobsters we can’t move. Our band members are extremely frustrated,” he said. “It’s just not the right time for me to sit around and talk about this. We’re actually here. We’re going to make it happen on our own if that’s the case.”

 Last week at the New Edinburgh facility, crowds removed and damaged video cameras and then ransacked the lobster pound and storage facility that would house the lobster catch.  A van at the facility was also set on fire.
 Mi’kmaw fisherman Jason Marr and others were forced to take cover inside the lobster pound as crowds smashed out windows and damaged Marr’s vehicle.

Court documents show the band was seeking court-ordered protection against  “a deliberate campaign of intimidation, violence and property destruction, perpetrated by non-Indigenous fishers and their supporters.”

Marr is one of those who swore an oath that there are reasonable grounds to order an injunction. The grounds listed include that the “campaign” has caused a risk of injury to the Sipekne’katik band members and significant economic loss.

Since mid-September, when the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its self-regulated moderate livelihood fishery, traps laid by Indigenous fishers have been repeatedly cut or damaged resulting in a massive loss for the fishery.

In addition, Wednesday’s court documents cite the RCMP’s failure to stop the campaign continues to date and serves as another ground for an order.

The temporary court injunction order prohibits any interference with the band’s fishing activities at sea, and any action that may prevent the band from carrying out its contract business.

On Wednesday, the head of the RCMP failed to address complaints about the force’s response to violence against Indigenous lobster fisheries in southwestern Nova Scotia. Brenda Lucki said police are “fully committed to keeping the peace,” but failed to explain why videos taken at multiple scenes appear to show RCMP officers standing by as the Mi’kmaq have faced violent and heated opposition from mostly non-Indigenous commercial fishers. As a result there have been calls for Lucki’s resignation.

The injunction order also says RCMP can remove and arrest any person breaching orders of the injunction, the court documents said.

The temporary injunction expires Dec. 15, 2020, when another hearing will be held if the injunction is still required.

 

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