Mi’kmaq fighting colonial powers
Conflicts over fish and other resources between the Mi’kmaq (Indigenous people) and colonial powers have a long history in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The Mi’kmaq Treaties – agreements of 1760/61 that set out long-standing promises, mutual obligations and benefits – are treaties acknowledging the rights of the L’s tkuk community, known as Bear River First Nation. They recognise the Mi’kmaq’s long historical relationship with the natural world, known as Netukulimk. These have now been eroded by the granting of individual transferable fishing quotas (ITQs).
In 1999 the Mi’kmaq won a court case in the Supreme Court which gave them the right to catch and sell fish, and that fishing legislation unjustifiably infringed on the Mi’kmaq Treaties.
The government imposed the ITQ system, which is unsustainable and transforms fish into private property, contrary to Mi’kmaq values. The L’sitkuk community is fighting back to pursue a fishery that builds on the principles of Netukulimk.
Source: Bear River First Nation, Canada, a WFFP member