Canada Recognizes Listuguj’s Laws and Authority in Fisheries Governance

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

CANADA RECOGNIZES LISTUGUJ’S LAWS AND AUTHORITY IN FISHERIES GOVERNANCE

The Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government and Canada have reached an unprecedented step in our evolving relationship through a Rights Reconciliation Agreement on Fisheries.

 

On June 17, 2019, the LMG enacted the Listuguj Lobster Law following two years of community consultation, engagement, and guidance. The Listuguj Lobster Law is based, in part, on the Salmon Fishing Law, its principles and process. The enactment of the Listuguj Lobster Law sparked renewed negotiations with Canada. These negotiations sought to create a rights-based agreement on fisheries, with our Mi’gmaq understandings and beliefs, and recognition of our laws, poised at the centre.

The five-year Rights and Reconciliation Agreement on Fisheries was agreed to by LMG on March 24, 2021 and will be approved and signed by Canada in the coming weeks. In the Agreement, Canada recognizes the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation’s fisheries governance and fishing rights. The Agreement also recognizes the mechanisms, including our Mi’gmaq Laws, by which the LMG governs and manages its fisheries.

For the first time, Canada has formally recognized our sacred, inherent responsibility for the stewardship of the land, waters, and living things of Gespe’gewa’gi. As the basis for this Agreement, Canada has also accepted that the recognition of our inherent jurisdiction, legal orders, and laws is the starting point for discussions between the federal government and the LMG.

“We firmly followed the mandate we received from Listugujewaq to assume control over our Fishery Governance. With this Agreement, we leave in the past a model where we were managing DFO’s regulations for a renewed relationship premised on recognition of our laws governing our rights in our territory,” said Saqamaw Darcy Gray. “Because of Listuguj’s strong tradition of exercising our jurisdiction by adopting our own laws, Canada was receptive and accepted to move forward with us adopting the Reconciliation spirit that has helped to shape this Agreement. Our community will benefit from this Agreement, and we will recover our inherent jurisdictional rights on Gespe’gewa’gi,” he concluded.

The five-year Agreement was endorsed unanimously by Chief and Council, and it sets the base for a better relationship with Canada and DFO on Rights Recognition, Fisheries Access, Fisheries Funding, and provides a framework for LMG Fisheries Governance & Collaborative Management.

“This Agreement will allow us to plan and implement our seasons with some certainty that DFO will not unjustifiably infringe on Mi’gmaq fisheries governance and our fishing rights. We will also gain increased access to fisheries resources whether for food, social, ceremonial, or commercial purposes, funds for capacity building on fisheries governance, obtain fisheries access, which could include licenses and/or quota as well as vessels and gear,” said Dr. Fred Metallic, Natural Resources Director, member of fisheries negotiation team on behalf of LMG.

LMG remains committed to making certain that our rights, responsibilities, and full authority over our fisheries are upheld. If required, there is nothing in this Agreement that prohibits the LMG from initiating or supporting legal proceedings against Canada concerning any alleged breach of this Agreement by Canada, including action by Canada that fails to fulfill the duty to consult and accommodate or unjustifiably infringes our Aboriginal or Treaty Rights. The Agreement reflects our laws, and LMG will continue to protect and fight for Mi’gmaq rights and responsibilities, on the water and at the table with government. As part of the Agreement, discussions between LMG and Canada will continue. In concrete terms, upon signing this Agreement the LMG and Canada will form a Co-Governance Fisheries Committee to facilitate collaborative assessment, planning, and management in relation to the LMG’s Fishery.

Once finalized, the full agreement will be made available on the LMG website.

For more information, please contact Hilary Barnaby, Communications Manager, at 418-788-2136 or hilary.barnaby@listuguj.ca.

 

Minister Jordan puts electoral politics ahead of reconciliation, says Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Minister Jordan puts electoral politics ahead of reconciliation, says Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government

Refusal to discuss adjusting fishing seasons more about maintaining status quo than science

March 5, 2021, Listuguj, QC Late on Wednesday, March 3, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, issued a statement on what she called a “new path” for First Nations who benefit from the treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood confirmed by the Supreme Court in Marshall. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (“DFO”) now says it will negotiate moderate livelihood fishing plans with individual First Nations, but that existing fishing seasons will not change, and new access will only be available through buybacks of existing licences from willing non-Indigenous sellers.

“This so-called new path is just the DFO’s old way of doing things,” said Chief Darcy Gray of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government. “We agree that conservation is paramount and that an orderly fishery is essential, but where is the discussion if the DFO has already decided on effort and seasons? We are prepared to have a facts-based discussion to find innovative ways of exercising our treaty right while keeping stocks healthy. The Minister’s announcement doesn’t make that possible.”

Listuguj conducts its lobster fishery in the Bay of Chaleur, off the south coast of the Gaspé Peninsula. The DFO allows commercial lobster fishing in this area every spring. The DFO also permits Listuguj to fish lobster for food in this area every fall but prohibits Listuguj from selling any of its fall catch. Listuguj has filed an application in Federal Court arguing that the DFO’s refusal to permit the sale of lobster in the fall violates its treaty right. The so-called “new path” announced by the Minister will do nothing to resolve this dispute.

The DFO’s refusal to allow Listuguj to sell lobster in the fall has nothing to do with conservation. Listuguj has a community law and fishing plan that keep its fall fishing effort within the DFO guidelines. The community also imposes its own conservation measures beyond what the DFO asks for, including dockside monitoring. With the Minister’s announcement, the prohibition on commercial lobster fishing by Listuguj in the fall will continue without explanation.

“It is important to understand that conservation concerns and community needs vary from place to place,” explained Chief Gray. “The situation in the Bay of Chaleur is different from the situation in Saint Mary’s Bay or Saint Peter’s Bay. There is no one size fits all solution. We want to sit down and work out a solution that fits our circumstances, respects the science, and respects our rights. The Minister is unwilling to have that conversation. It’s the same old colonial attitude.”

“I think the Minister’s announcement was meant as a message to the non-Indigenous industry saying not to worry, that things are going to stay just the way they are,” said Chief Gray. “It’s another example of electoral politics coming before reconciliation.”

For more information, please contact Hilary Barnaby, Communications Manager, at 418-788-2136 or hilary.barnaby@listuguj.ca.

LMG says systemic racism from Department of Fisheries and Oceans blocking the First Nation’s right to sell fall lobster

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government says systemic racism from Department of Fisheries and Oceans blocking the First Nation’s right to sell fall lobster

 

LISTUGUJ, QCSeptember 21, 2020 On Sunday, September 20, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government (“LMG”) began its fall lobster fishery. The catch will be used to provide for the community’s needs, with most distributed to community members for food and the rest sold to finance fisheries operations and community initiatives to support economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), however, will issue a licence prohibiting the sale of lobster caught by the LMG this fall, restricting its use to food, social, and ceremonial purposes. This goes against the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 decision in Marshall, which confirmed that the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760-61 protect the right of Mi’gmaq communities to fish and sell fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.

Canada tells us repeatedly that they acknowledge our treaty right to sell fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood,” said Darcy Gray, Chief of the LMG. “But, as an institution, the DFO won’t change how it operatesto allow us to sell the lobster we catch every fall. Instead, they criminalize us for exercising our rights. That is systemic racism. It continues year after year.”

The LMG conducts its lobster fishery in the community’s traditional territory – referred to as Gespe’gewa’gi – in the Bay of Chaleur, off the southern coast of the Gaspé Peninsula. The DFO allows commercial lobster fishing in this area every spring. The DFO has also permitted the LMG to conduct a food fishery for lobster in this area every fall for the past 21 years, since the Marshall decision. This fall, despite a prohibition on sale in the licence the DFO will grant, the LMG will sell some of its catch.

“The Minister says that implementing the Marshall decision is a priority. Well, I requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss our lobster fishery in July and never received a reply,” said Chief Gray. “The Minister says that this issue is best addressed through negotiations. Well, we have been negotiating in good faith for years, but out on the water nothing has changed. The Minister says that a sound management framework is necessary for the conservation of fish stocks. We agree, and we have developed our own management framework that meets and exceeds the DFO’s requirements. Frankly, the Minister is running out of excuses, and we are running out of patience.”

The DFO manages the lobster fishery by restricting fishing effort, which refers to the number of days fishing is permitted and the number of traps that can be used.

“We have adopted a community law and fishing plan that will keep our fall fishing effort within the DFO guidelines,” said Alfred Metallic, the LMG’s Director of Natural Resources. “We have also imposed heightened conservation measures on ourselves beyond what the DFO has asked for – including dockside monitoring – to ensure we do not exceed the maximum allowable effort. We are taking every precaution to ensure that our fishery remains sustainable.”

Because the LMG will not be fishing more this fall than it has in previous years, the sale of a portion of the lobster landed this season will not impact the health of the lobster stocks or the availability of lobster for other resource users.

For the past several years, the LMG has been negotiating with the DFO, asking for a licence allowing it to sell some of the lobster it would otherwise catch in the fall for food. Although some aspects of these negotiations continue to be productive, the DFO has consistently refused to allow the sale of lobster caught in the fall. The LMG remains engaged in the negotiation process but sees no reason to accept the DFO’s repeated violations of its treaty right.

“It comes down to the rule of law,” said Chief Gray. “The DFO must uphold the law by respecting our treaty right and implementing the Marshall decision. The DFO is not entitled to ignore our rights while we negotiate a new agreement. We have an agreement. It’s in the Peace and Friendship Treaties. The DFO’s willingness to violate its legal obligations to Mi’gmaq people year after year is deeply troubling.”

The LMG emphasized that it would prefer to operate its fall fishery in cooperation with the DFO, but that will require the DFO to issue a fishing licence with conditions that respect its treaty right, community laws, and fishing plan.

The LMG said this year the importance of the fall fishery is increased with the unprecedented economic pressures caused by COVID-19.

“All we want to do is sell some of the lobster we would otherwise eat to offset operational costs and support our community,” said Sky Metallic, a councillor with the LMG. “We are not taking money out of anyone’s pocket, and we are not asking for a handout. We are exercising our treaty right to support ourselves and yet the DFO continues to try to block us.”

The LMG expressed its support for Mi’gmaq communities in Nova Scotia exercising their right to sell lobster under the Peace and Friendship Treaties and conducting fall fisheries governed by their own laws and fishing plans.

“It has been 260 years since our treaties were signed,” said Councillor Metallic. “It has been 21 years since the Marshall decision. We have waited long enough. If the DFO won’t provide a regulatory framework that allows us to exercise our rights, then we can do that for ourselves.”

Last year, the DFO also denied the LMG a licence permitting the sale of lobster caught in the fall. The LMG has sought a judicial review of that decision in Federal Court. That case is ongoing.

 

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For further information: please contact Hilary Barnaby, Communications Manager, at 418-788-2136 or hilary.barnaby@listuguj.ca.

Listuguj Promotes Peaceful Dialogue

 

For immediate release

 

Listuguj Promotes Peaceful Dialogue

 

(Listuguj, Gespe’gewa’gi – February 26, 2020) — The Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government (LMG) wishes to advise the community that the Procureure générale du Québec (PGQ) has taken out a provisional injunction in an attempt to dismantle the solidarity action taking place at the rail line at the start of Gospem Road located within Listuguj Lands.

The LMG is disheartened that the PGQ sought an injunction without prior attempt to engage or communicate with our community to resolve this issue. The injunction was unnecessary and not conducive towards reconciling this issue in a peaceful manner. Further concerns remain as the injunction was not served in accordance with the protocols of the Listuguj Police Department (LPD).

At this point in time, peaceful protestors remain at the rail line and their physical safety remains a priority for the LMG. Let it be known that the LMG has no intention of forcefully removing peaceful protestors from the rail line. We respect their right to peacefully protest and will continue to ensure their physical safety.

“As N’nu’g we have a collective responsibility to protect the land and our relations. The LMG is open to facilitating discussions towards a peaceful resolution. We remain hopeful that solutions can be reached through respectful dialogue,” Chief Darcy Gray.

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Hilary Barnaby, Acting Communications Manager

hilary.barnaby@listuguj.ca

418-788-2136

Bring Starr Smith Home

 

For Immediate Release

 

Wagmatcook, NS – Concerned family, friends, and the community of Wagmatcook ask for your help locating Starr Smith.

Starr Smith, Wagmatcook First Nation

She was last seen January 25th, 2020 in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, traveling with Michael “Mike” O’Neil, who is originally from Saint Stephen New Brunswick. She has not had any contact with family or friends since, which is extremely out of character for her. O’Neil’s criminal history has family very concerned for Starr’s safety. He was last confirmed to be in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick on January 29th and is driving a stolen vehicle (Jeep Grand Cherokee, black in colour) from Wagmatcook.

“This is not like Starr to have no contact with us” says sister of Starr, Sunnie Smith. “If she is seeing or hearing this, we want her to know we love her and want her to come home.”

“The entire community is terribly worried for her safety, and wish for her safe return as soon as possible,” said Chief of Wagmatcook First Nation Norman Bernard.

Starr is described as 5’3” tall, 250 pounds with brown hair, brown eyes and glasses. Identifying features: Black glasses, 2 nose rings (stud and septum), multiple tattoos. Tattoos easily seen: Moon on index finger, Dove on wrist, Flower on arm, two holding hands on arm, mind over matter on arm.

Please share this information on social media with the hashtag #bringStarrSmithhome, and please report any sightings of her to the RCMP immediately.

 

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Media Contact: Sunnie Francis Smith

Mobile: 902.304.8874

 

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government to Issue Temporary Licences to Cannabis Vendors

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government to Issue Temporary Licences to Cannabis Vendors

 

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government has taken action to address questions surrounding the implementation of the Listuguj Cannabis Law and the creation of the Listuguj Cannabis Control Office.

Effective immediately, Chief and Council have mandated the Cannabis Control Committee the authority to issue temporary licenses based on provisions outlined within OIC #2523 (click here to download).

The OIC empowers the Cannabis Control Committee to authorize cannabis operations within the community until the Cannabis Control Office is operationalized.

Applications for temporary licensing are available for pick-up at the Band Office. If you wish to get an application, please see Janice at reception. She can be reached at 418-788-2136.

 

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government Calls on Trudeau to Respect Treaty Rights

Mi’gmaq community asserts rights and conducts commercial lobster fishery despite DFO’s refusal to issue commercial licence

September 23, 2019, Listuguj, QCToday, members of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation took to the waters of the Chaleur Bay to fish for lobster, just as they have for generations. The difference this fall is that they will sell some of their catch. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has refused to grant the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government a commercial licence for its fall lobster fishery. The fishery will be conducted without a licence from the DFO but will be regulated by the community’s own law and fishing plan.

In 1999, in R. v. Marshall, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed that the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760-61 and the Canadian constitution protect the right of Mi’gmaq communities to fish commercially to provide for themselves. The DFO has the authority to impose limits on Mi’gmaq commercial fishing, but only if these limits are minimally intrusive, follow meaningful consultation, and are aimed at achieving a compelling objective, such as conservation or safety. The DFO has offered no explanation that could justify its refusal to issue a commercial fishing licence this fall.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has often repeated that his government’s most important relationship is with Canada’s indigenous people,” said Darcy Gray, Chief of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government. “This fall provides the Prime Minister with an opportunity to show us what that really means. If this government is actually committed to reconciliation, then they will support us as we exercise our rights.”

A fall lobster fishery is not new. Listuguj has held a fall lobster fishery to feed the community for the past two decades. “We have no intention of increasing our fishing effort beyond what is sustainable,” explained Fred Metallic, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government’s Director of Natural Resources. “We have our own law and plan in place to ensure that.”

The difference this year is that some of the lobster caught in the fall will be sold to offset costs. Since the Marshall decision, Listuguj has also conducted a limited commercial lobster fishery in the spring. For the spring fishery, the DFO issues the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government a commercial licence.

Sky Metallic is a Councillor with the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government. “Our disagreement with the DFO is about what happens to the lobster after they have been brought ashore,” he explained. “This has nothing to do with safety or conservation. I understand that we are in an election, but that is not a reason to violate our rights. We need to move forward. This is about reconciliation, not politics.”

Last November, Canada and the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government signed a Framework Agreement on Reconciliation and the Fisheries. That agreement kicked off formal negotiations on fisheries governance and fishing rights. Those negotiations are ongoing.

“Listuguj remains committed to negotiating a long-term arrangement with Canada to find reconciliation on water,” Chief Gray emphasized. “But we cannot be made to wait indefinitely and for no reason for permission to exercise a right we already have: our right to fish and sell fish to address our community’s needs.”

For more information, please contact Hilary Barnaby, Communications Manager, at 418-788-2136 or hilary.barnaby@listuguj.ca.

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government Proposes a Solution for Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre Leisure Cards

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government Proposes a Solution for Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre Leisure Cards

 

October 12, 2018, Listuguj, QC – The Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government has proposed a solution in regards to the implementation of leisure cards at the Campbellton Memorial Civic Centre.  The LMG will contribute $20,000 on behalf of all Listuguj members to the Civic Centre pending the creation of a management committee on which the LMG will have at least two seats.

 

Listuguj members will still need to register for a card, but they will not be charged.  This does not provide exemption from registration fees, any other associated user fees, ticket prices, etc.  If the City of Campbellton accepts this proposal, a process will be implemented to reimburse members who’ve already purchased leisure cards.

 

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For more information, please contact Mike Isaac, Communications Manager, at 418-788-2136 or misaac@listuguj.ca.

 

Listuguj Comes to Understanding with Restigouche Camp Owners Association

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Listuguj Comes to Understanding with Restigouche Camp Owners Association

 

August 6, 2018 (Listuguj, Quebec) – Representatives from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government and other First Nations met with members of the Restigouche Camp Owner Association and the city of Campbellton at the Restigouche River Experience Centre.

Throughout the day the discussion was consumed with the idea of “changing the narrative”. This was agreed upon by everyone in attendance that the narrative that is described when speaking about the resources within traditional Mi’gmaq territory should include the Mi’gmaq in all relevant representation.

It was agreed upon to evaluate and review the current history that is being displayed at the Centre to include both the history of multiple generations of guides and anglers along with the history of the Mi’gmaq and Gespe’gewa’gi.

Acknowledging the darkness in our collective history is the first step to reconciliation and to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

“The discussion was a very positive one and we mutually agreed to acknowledge all aspects of our collective history and work on the best way to move forward together”, said Chief Darcy Gray.

Throughout the afternoon a great collaboration of ideas took place and there was a firm commitment to improve the current representation of the Mi’gmaq at the Restigouche River Experience Centre. In order to properly do this there will be an advisory committee put together to address this important task.

“I would like to express how delighted I am to have done this for the second consecutive year, and there have been some very concrete and substantial ideas that have been recommended and discussed”, said Edgar Cullman Chair of the Restigouche Camp Owners Association.

 

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For more information, please contact:
Mike Isaac, Communications Manager, 418-788-2136 or misaac@listuguj.ca