RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki will speak to the media today amid violence in southwestern Nova Scotia over a Mi’kmaw lobster fishery.
The police force has been criticized for its handling of the dispute between Mi’kmaw and commercial fishermen in the province — tensions that have resulted in the harassment of Indigenous fishers, the destruction of lobster stock and the burning of a storage facility.
Lucki will speak at 1 p.m. ET. CBCNews.ca will carry her remarks live.
After years of legal wrangling, the Sipekne’katik First Nation started fishing outside the federally mandated lobster season last month. The 1999 Marshall decision from the Supreme Court found the Mi’kmaw have a right to a “moderate livelihood” from the fishery, but that term has never been defined in federal law.
Commercial fishermen, who are largely white, have said this sort of fishing could damage the health of lobster stocks, and they’re demanding that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) stop them from catching the prized crustaceans. The federal government, led by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, is locked in negotiations with Chief Mike Sack over how to best manage the Indigenous fishery. The Nova Scotia minister has called for calm as those talks continue.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Monday that the Mi’kmaw have been “let down” by the RCMP.
“We must also recognize that once again, as evidenced by the scenes of violence, Indigenous people have been let down by the police, those who are sworn to protect them,” Miller said.
Two lobster facilities in southwest Nova Scotia were targeted and vandalized by commercial fishermen last week. One of the facilities, located in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., was destroyed in a Saturday blaze RCMP have deemed suspicious.
The national police force has a contract to provide policing service in some parts of Nova Scotia, including this largely rural area some 225 kilometres west of Halifax.