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Chief of First Nation at centre of N.S. lobster fishery dispute re-elected

A Mi’kmaw chief who has battled for his band’s treaty right to fish lobster in southwestern Nova Scotia has been re-elected.

It will be a third term for Chief Mike Sack in the community of Sipekne’katik, N.S., formerly known as Indian Brook, located about 65 kilometres north of Halifax.

The returning officer of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq says Sack won more than 72 per cent of the vote.

Heather Knockwood and Kim Paul were the other candidates for chief in the community of about 2,770 people.

Sack gained national prominence after he officially opened a “moderate livelihood” fishery for his community on Sept. 17 in Saulnierville, N.S.

A spokesperson for the band said 982 ballots were cast out of 2,000 eligible voters, with 772 people voting in person and 210 ballots received by mail.

“It has always been the greatest honour of my life to represent the people of my community, however, today perhaps more than ever, as we have seen their resilience and strength emerge on the world’s stage in recent weeks,” Sack said Tuesday in a news release.

Mi’kmaw fishers and supporters have been encamped at the Saulnierville wharf since September, defending the moderate livelihood fishery against critics. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

“Our people are committed to advancing our Treaty right to a moderate livelihood and we are very close to finalizing our Rights Implementation Fishery Management plan as we move from phase one to phase two.”

The band has argued the fishery is permitted by a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision based on treaties signed by the British Crown in the early 1760s.

A clarification of the decision in the Donald Marshall Jr. case says that Ottawa may regulate based on conservation, and if the infringement on the treaty is justified.

Sack has faced strong criticisms from non-Indigenous protesters who’ve said they are opposed because the fishery is operating outside the regulated season and may have a negative affect on lobster stocks.

The campaigning began 30 days ago with nominations in the midst of the startup of the St. Marys Bay fishery.


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