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NDP Leader Kate White

Yukon legislators support Mi’kmaq fisheries

The Yukon legislature has voted unanimously to support Mi’kmaq fisheries in the legislative assembly.

By Gabrielle Plonka on October 26, 2020

The Yukon legislature has voted unanimously to support Mi’kmaq fisheries in the legislative assembly.

The motion was introduced last Wednesday by NDP Leader Kate White. It called for the Yukon government’s public denouncement of violence against Mi’kmaq people and the RCMP’s “failure to protect Mi’kmaq communities.”

The motion also calls on the federal government to implement a moderate livelihood fishery in collaboration with the Sipekne’katik First Nation.

A Mi’kmaq lobster fishery in Nova Scotia has experienced ongoing harassment and violence after it opened a moderate livelihood fishery last month –– including a lobster pound that was burned to the ground on Oct. 17. The events have spurred nationwide protests in support of Mi’kmaw fishers.

“No longer can we sit smugly up in Canada denying that racism exists here while pointing south of the border to the overt racism that we see there,” White said.

“The violence that has erupted in Nova Scotia is jarring – it is hard to watch even from the other side of the country.”

The Mi’kmaq have a constitutional right to moderate livelihood fishing – meaning Mi’kmaw people have a right to make a living via local resources as a sovereign nation on unceded territory, White explained.

“When we see the violence that has been directed at Mi’kmaw fishers, we have to ask: Where was the RCMP?” White said.

“Seeing Indigenous fishers being intimidated, barricaded in their pound, and having their property destroyed is shocking – but this conflict isn’t new and these tensions are not new.”

Pauline Frost, the minister of Health and Social Services, noted in the assembly that the issue facing Mi’kmaw fishers is one aspect of a larger societal problem.

“I think that there are significant underlying issues around the rights of Indigenous people,” Frost said.

“It’s really about what has long existed, and that is the pervasive, systemic racism that we have known to exist.”

Frost is the MLA for Old Crow and a Vuntut Gwitchin citizen. While the Yukon is unique in its systems of self-governance, she said, the Indian Act stripped many Yukon Indigenous people of their rights as recently as the 1980s.

“These are real issues, very alive and well and very recent and raw for all of us,” Frost said.

Liberal MLA Don Hutton spoke on the history of Mi’kmaq fishers’ connection to the land.

“The Mi’kmaq people have a long-standing history … harvesting the coastlines for shellfish and sea mammals,” Hutton said.

“Unfortunately, the Mi’kmaq were among some of the first Aboriginal people in North America to interact with European explorers and settlers.”

Hutton explained that over half of the Mi’kmaq population was lost between the 1500s and 1600s.

“The social and cultural disruption and violence continues today … and I would expect any sensible government or human to condemn this type of behaviour without hesitation.”

Premier Sandy Silver also spoke in support of the motion.

Silver, who hales from Antigonish, N.S. – Mi’kmaq territory – said his father was a lobster fisherman and harbourmaster.

“He would be rolling in his grave right now if he knew what was happening back home,” Silver said.

White closed the debate by drawing a parallel between support for Mi’kmaq fishers and combating systemic racism as a whole.

“When we stand in solidarity on this issue, it means that we are recognizing the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples across the country, from coast to coast to coast, and that is incredibly important,” White said.

“When the Mi’kmaq communities are fighting for their treaty right to access their own lands and waters, we all have a duty to stand with them, and so it is critical that we denounce overt and systemic racism when we see it.”

Comments (43)

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Wilf Carter on Nov 1, 2020 at 8:57 pm

I have talked to First Nation peoples in Nova Scotia and I am from NS like Sandy, Tracy and Ranj.
First Nations in NS do not feel they have to follow the laws of Canada or NS as far as a lot of things go.
Their traditional rights comes before Canada law on resources.
If they follow Canadian and NS laws First Nations would have to buy commercial lobster fishing licenses.
This information comes from NS First Nations people who believe what's going on here is wrong.

From inside liberal camp Trudeau's actions of racial behavior has created this problem
We all are part of this as one and are equal. No one is above or greater than anyone else.
That is only common sense because if we don't believe that, Canada is doomed for failure.
There was many actions like this under PE Trudeau leadership.
In US they had riots' over the place because of back verses white which in cases not wrong at all.
I went down the US on business trip and took my 10 year old daughter with me.
WE stayed in nice hotel with a pool in the middle of it. My daughter wanted to go for swim which and she did.
There was a black's skinned family swimming in the pool at the same time and having.
They had a daughter same age my daughter and they played with a ball together.
There was a white skinned family staying next door to us and we were staying on the pool deck and the father leaned over to me and said the black skinned people should not be permitted in the pool.
I went got my suite and jointed.
Next morning when were checking out the father of white skinned person said NEg lovers.
I talked to hotel manager and he called the police and they arrested that person been prejudices.
I have seen prejudices and racism all my live and leader need to lead not go down to lower crape of this like Trudeau did by calling Canadian of white skin racist.
By the NDP like Kate sticking her nose into a situation should knowns nothing about is what Yukoners.
I talked to 4 First Nations people in NS over the last 4 days and stated for NDP keep to their business in Yukon not NS business.
Lobster are removing their shells none and sponging later on in February. That why don't fish them in most place of the east coast and laws are in place.
JUst some other pieces of interest is in NS there was First Nation group who sold gas on reserve lands and decided not to charge any federal or provincial tax.
So that made their gas much cheaper than anyone else gas because of the tax.
KWFN has a gas bar and sell gas. It would be interest if they tried what would liberals do?
What would be really interesting if First Nations set up gas bars all over the Yukon from Dawson to Watson Lake and not charge tax what would take place?
I have read over 50 history books on First Nations history including one given to me in Teslin by TTC.
Yukoner lets not let politicians like this drag use down in the mud.
Yukon First Nation people have treated me and my family like family and they are great people.

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Just because on Nov 1, 2020 at 12:41 pm

@spud, maybe you can give us the other perspective. From what has been on the news, the Band is doing this to show they can. They have said out right that fishing seasons for reasons of conversation do not apply to them. They have their own plan, although we don’t know what that is. The bottom line is that the inactions of the federal government is what has led to what is happening today. It’s not RCMP as they are doing as much now as they have done during the rail blockades that were illegal and crippled the whole country. Or the Caledonia protest that has a court order to cease, but protestors still damaging vehicles and roads with no penalty.

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Nova Scotia Resident on Nov 1, 2020 at 10:52 am

Hi Spud, the natives here have made no secret of their plan to get out there for the easy pickings while all the other boats are still tied up waiting for the molt to end and the legal Lobster season (based on waiting for the females to lay their eggs first) to start. That's the motive plain and simple.
To any Yukon residents who don’t know the history of this. Fairly recently the federal government gave NS First Nations 600 million dollars to set them up in the commercial Lobster fishing industry, that money bought their fishing boats, licenses, gear, you name it federal tax money got the FNs involved in the large scale commercial lobster fishery. The reason other people here are so fired up is the natives have turned around and said s—— you, we’re going to use the gear to start catching Lobster during molting season.
If the natives fished responsibly after the molt is over like everyone else this conflict would not have erupted like it has.
To EJ, if the Conservatives in Yukon voted for this motion as well I’ll paint them with the same brush as the NDP and Libs.
It’s pretty easy for the national media to not report the entire story isn’t it?

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Groucho d'North on Nov 1, 2020 at 10:12 am

You're not a former politician by chance are you? Because it is that roll-over and give up attitude that got us to this dismal place in history.
There are plenty of contentious international issues that get resolved if the people with the authority take a stand and work to address the issues. In the past 30 years there have been at least 6 ministers responsible for the environment or renewable resources if you go back that far. There have been Accords signed with Alaska stating our mutual desires to have all the things the public wants to hear. Yet nobody had the balls to take a stand on the migratory salmon issue. Fish wheels used to indiscriminately catch tonnes of fish, while the law makers thought restricting anglers to two fish per day would help the resource. Look at all the money that got spent chasing those poor anglers when the real carnage was ignored. Now the Alaskan dog mushers are having to pay money to feed their dogs and they are blaming the commercial fishery for their plight. Let's all look the other way.

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EJ on Oct 31, 2020 at 6:32 pm

@NS resident
Like Pikachu mentioned, even the Yukon Party (supposedly Conservative Party in Yukon) voted for this NDP motion. Odd how you are only throwing shade at the NDP and Liberals. Or maybe you don't realize there are 3 parties in the legislature?

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Wilf Carter on Oct 31, 2020 at 6:21 pm

Highliner Foods head office is located in NS and has been processing fish in China look on their boxes. China is one big processing and manufacturing country and are looking for different types of protein not highliners fish that are caught in international water and who knows where. Their people will not eat that fish. Right now China buys a lot of lobsters from NS. They even invested in a lobster processing plant. Lobsters from NS created a good solid market for NS catch and the price went up for lobsters. If China pulls out of the market and goes somewhere else for lobsters, NS is will lose money and province revenues will go down with it. As I said NDP do not understand what they are talking about.

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Spud on Oct 31, 2020 at 3:54 pm

OK NS resident, that is the settlers side of the story and since you are so well informed, what is the First Nation's reason for doing what they are doing? Come on full disclosure here, otherwise you are coming off as just another hater.

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yukon56 on Oct 31, 2020 at 1:25 pm

So when the rights to fishing were agreed to there were no commercial fishing boats - break out your canoe and fill your boots.

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Nova Scotia Resident on Oct 31, 2020 at 7:14 am

So Kate Smith and the Yukon NDP are against the environment then? They support commercially catching Lobster while the females are still loaded with their eggs which is what the natives in NS are currently doing. The strife in NS would not have happened and would go away overnight if the natives waited until after the egg laying season is over to do their commercial lobster fishing like everyone else here responsibly does.
Come on NDP, you can be for the environment or you can be for the NS natives, in this case you can't be for both. Are you also going to advocate for commercially catching egg laden Yukon river salmon?
I might add that former Nova Scotian Sandy Silver up there must know exactly what's going on and through omission is also acting the hypocrite.

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Charlie's Aunt on Oct 30, 2020 at 7:02 pm

@ Wilf. Some of your posts have been good recently, if they weren't book length, but this time you seem to miss the fact that most of commercially frozen fish in stores is labelled Product of China! What's it doing there if China is hungry for protein, especially when they have bats? Unlike some, I have nothing against farmed fish if it's done well, but what does that in YT have to do with our leg supporting Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia? I do agree leg should look at home front first.

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drum on Oct 30, 2020 at 6:45 pm

Maybe a haircut and some decent clothes would let our southern Canadians know that we do not all dress like Kate. They probably think we are all behind the times.

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Wilf Carter on Oct 29, 2020 at 5:45 pm

What the Yukon needs is more fish farming that's done properly, not like BC but like Europe, Ice Land etc. China is looking for protein and is hungry for it. We have fresh water snails in some of our lakes that can be grown to sell. There's other cold climate agro and protein opportunities but we have to research and develop them. Politicians have to wake up and see the future.

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Al on Oct 29, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Really - this is very simple. Let's worry about the issues and problems we have here in the Yukon before we stick our beaks into other issues elsewhere that have zero affect on us.

Come on you folks you are not being sent to the Legislature to solve the world's, or Canada's, problems. If you are unable to accept this simple fact of life then please do us all a favour and resign. We will then collectively put folks in that can.

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Chuck on Oct 29, 2020 at 3:36 pm

@ Groucho d'North

There is very little the Yukon and Canada can do when fishers in Alaska decimate the run down stream. Many of those fry are Yukon born and only a tiny percentage ever make it mack home to spawn 4 years later.
You cannot reason with the Alaskans (Commercial, Recreational or FN) fishers conservation is not in their vocabulary.

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Spud on Oct 29, 2020 at 2:43 pm

Good for the Yukon Legislature. Anyone with half a brain (functioning of course) would recognize that there is no comparison between what is happening back east in a fishery that the First Nations used long before the settlers and the railroad blocking that occurred last year. The is a difference between the oppressed and the oppressor, course you need a functioning brain to recognize that.

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Nathan Living on Oct 29, 2020 at 12:33 am

This is new ground.
Let's take a closer look at Yukon First Nations making a moderate livelihood from Big Game Outfitting, Wilderness Guiding, mining royalties, income tax collected from non settlement land, there is much to consider.

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Groucho d'North on Oct 28, 2020 at 2:45 pm

So politicians are becoming interested in the health of fisheries? All well and good but they are about 30 years too late to help the salmon runs here in the Yukon.
They could have got involved back then when the tough decisions needed to be made, but NO they created committees made up of smart and well-informed people with no power to act or in some cases make detrimental decisions regarding the protection of the resource.
So here we are today with devastated salmon numbers returning to their natal streams all because of the lack of participation of the elected officials. But now there is a fisheries dispute on the far side of the country and they need to spout off about that. It's shameful! And all three parties are guilty of fumbling the Yukon Salmon issue.

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Pikachu on Oct 27, 2020 at 9:31 pm

So the Yukon Party has no spine is basically what you are saying. Scared of people finding what they truly believe in. Unless of course they really do believe the way they voted and you just can't accept that they have become a progressive party, little different than the NDP. It's no coincidence they have been tacking that way since Mr.Dixon was elected. Which is good.

Here is another snippet of something they said recently and you ask yourself if they would ever have talked like this before Curry Dixon won the leadership.
"Every single dollar that the Liberals spend on renting dirty
diesels is a dollar that leaves our territory and is shipped to
Alberta." - Oct.22 in the legislature

I never thought I would live to see the day that a conservative would refer to Alberta products as dirty! But don't get me wrong, I love that they are becoming so progressive, I'm just surprised is all. Keep it up Curry, you will gain far more support if you keep going further to the left.

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What you talkin about Willis... on Oct 27, 2020 at 6:45 pm

Look everyone - Patti Eyre just revealed what is wrong with the electorate and why we continue to have Sh*tshows for government. Because they are paid to have an opinion?!?! No Patti... No!!!!!!

They are there to represent the “will of the people”. They work for us. They are not entrepreneurs of political thought. You are missing the point entirely.

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JohnW on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:55 pm

This is clearly racist pandering and a facile attempt at distraction from their own inaction on this issue here at home. Why are they not doing their job and protecting the Yukon River salmon fishery for everyone, regardless of racial ancestry?

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Jim on Oct 27, 2020 at 4:23 pm

@pikacho; not sure where you have the idea I was attacking the NDP. I put all those virtual signaling politicians in the same group. Putting a photo op in front of facts. I’m sure some were scared into being labelled racist or ignorant if they didn’t follow along. How about we wait and see how the facts play out on this 20+ year old problem that DFO has failed to direct.

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Patti Eyre on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:56 pm

Max max max politicians are elected to have opinions, so when you accuse them of having them why are you so indignant? Read a book once in a while why don’t ya?

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Anie on Oct 27, 2020 at 2:20 pm

I wish there was some way we could make our politicians read, and help them to understand the sentiments that are so well expressed in the comments. Most people despise violence and would choose to live in a nation of equality and compromise. Our government is premature in reaching condemning conclusions about this situation, while remaining silent on others. Railway blockades met with no response at all from our pathetic leaders

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Wilf Carter on Oct 27, 2020 at 1:07 pm

This situation shows how incompetent our federal government is at managing our country affairs. Our country is divided between east and west and north. Our cultures are getting divided by who you are. We are divided by what rights you have over others. We bring in immigrants that background checks are not done so who knows if they're good bad or indifferent. But one thing that is true, we are all humans and to live together as one or we will fall apart.

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Dave on Oct 27, 2020 at 12:51 pm

@Pikachu. It tells me that no politician in Yukon was going to vote against this which may then falsely get him/ her branded as racist and cost native votes come next election time over something so utterly meaningless as a Yukon NDP motion concerning anything to do with Nova Scotia.
Thanks for your comment however, it aptly demonstrates how little thought people on the left put into anything.

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Wilf Carter on Oct 27, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Folks I just found out from a person in government that Trudeau has known about FN's wanting to commercial fish for lobsters for awhile because the minister was informed. Trudeau made a comment about closing NS lobster fishery 6 months ago. Trudeau knew of the issue and did nothing.

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Max Mack on Oct 27, 2020 at 11:17 am

Yukon legislators are either clueless or just pandering to the FN base. Politicians selfishly adding fuel to the fire.
The current dispute in the Atlantic lobster fishery is not a simple "moderate livelihood/inherent right" issue vs the evil white man as any reasonably informed person would know.

Is this what we can expect in the Yukon? Say goodbye to co-managed resources as laid out in the UFA. Say goodbye to sustainable harvests.
Shamefully, our media parrots talking points instead of providing any balanced or nuanced analysis.

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Groucho d;'North on Oct 27, 2020 at 8:39 am

I have misgivings about governments choosing sides in these debates about rights and how the accusations of racism are used to sway public opinion. Each province and territory have treaty agreements with the regional first nations and some of these are being contested because of new ideas and political leadership. The one that baffles me most is how the feds are being drawn into the debate of which governance model the Wet’suwet’en first nation should follow. The hereditary chiefs or the democratic elected government? This is something the first nation needs to determine itself, Ottawa should not be playing a role.

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Uvey M. on Oct 27, 2020 at 5:05 am

Given the depleting resource supplies in many areas with many species I think it's time to give up on anachronistic traditional rights. Traditional methods are not being used for harvest and are therefore bogus. The resource doesn't know who is harvesting it.
The rules for resource extraction have to be the same for all those extracting that resource or we have failure. This is something that will have to be faced up to all across this great country no matter how long that takes. Tradition is great but don't make a farce out of that history.

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Nathan Living on Oct 27, 2020 at 12:07 am

Based upon a treaty and recent court case there should be an effort by DFO to allow a modest aboriginal livelihood from this lobster fishery.
The fishery should be managed by DFO with some licenses retired and transferred to the First Nation as communal licenses.

The fishery should not be race based and all communal licenses should follow all existing laws.
Who knows what a modest livelihood is but we will find out through negotiation and fair play and an honest effort to honour both the treaty and the court decision.

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Salt on Oct 26, 2020 at 10:16 pm

Any fool knows that if you create different sets of rules and privileges for dif groups in the same society then it will end in violence. Yet here we are.

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Pikachu on Oct 26, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Hey Jim, Dave and Wilf, you keep attacking the NDP over this motion or law or whatever which condemns the RCMP, but you should remember that even the Yukon Party conservatives voted in favour of it! So what does that tell you?

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iBrian=Taste of Reality on Oct 26, 2020 at 8:43 pm

At some point shortly, someone needs to stand up and say enough. There is 1 ecosystem. That’s it, Mother Nature is not multilayered.
Same rules for all.

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JC on Oct 26, 2020 at 8:36 pm

There's no Mi'kmaq up here. Looks like Kate White and the NDP lost their way again. We got enough of our own problems up here Kate. Let Nova Scotia sort out their own. And how do they know that racism is the problem? Maybe its just the Mi'kmaqs fighting it out among themselves. Liberals and NDP socialists always like to jump on the white racist bandwagon and call it white systemic racism. I for one am getting tired of it. Read my type, racism comes in all colors. When the white race settlers came over, they didn't set up a system of racism. They just came to settle and develop an undeveloped land.

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comen sense on Oct 26, 2020 at 7:24 pm

The bottom line is we are all Canadian and we should all be thinking about conservation. The government has set the stage to divide us in many ways. They started this they have to finish it. The government we have now has terrible timing.

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Fred Norris on Oct 26, 2020 at 7:06 pm

How about unanimously voting to end the lockdown.......

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Matthew on Oct 26, 2020 at 5:19 pm

Huh!? How is this news right now? What a waste of Yukon politics. Worried about what's happening 7000 kms away.. guess what.. 7000 kms the other way Japan just released toxic radiation from Fukushima into the Pacific.. where's your outrage on this?

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joe on Oct 26, 2020 at 5:11 pm

As a longtime Yukoner I disagree with this motion. I do not disagree with denouncing the violence ( let's talk railway blockages and digging up roads and blockades also) but I disagree with the RCMP failing to protect statement and I certainly disagree with the establishment of special rights for a privileged few. I call that blatant racism. This is 2020, who cares about archaic treaties that are interpreted in 100 different ways and who cares about who thinks they were here first, this is a time of equality and fairness for all. Shooting cow moose in the spring, catching moulting lobsters, netting fish...come on.

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Nathan Living on Oct 26, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Very nice to see this support.

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Jim on Oct 26, 2020 at 4:24 pm

So with all the violent protest going on, YTG sees now as a time for getting on the soap box. Where were all these politicians and police when the country’s rail system was completely shut down due to illegal protestors? This is not a new situation in NS. This is the federal governments inability to deal with their fisheries. Of course the individuals who damage property or assaulted anybody on either side should be charged. As we’ve seen all over the country, protestors are not held accountable for damages and this seems to have sent a dangerous message. But the Feds have failed to settle this matter with both non-indigenous an indigenous fisherman. Both sides have a story to tell and if the media would give both sides equal coverage we all might understand more. All this will take is for the Feds to make some tough choices, but they have to come out of hiding.

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Dave on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Well Kate White, the RCMP was the exact same place they were while natives were illegally blockading railroads in Ontario last winter and are currently defying court orders to leave titled land in Ontario if you need to know. Natives always say everyone else has to listen to court orders and honour agreements written hundreds of years ago but when the shoe is on the other foot they do whatever they want and the people of this land are fed up with having that load being shoved down our throats.
The Natives in Nova Scotia are commercially fishing lobster during the critical molting season of the year important for preserving the lobster stocks. So where is the much vaunted native respect for Mother Nature in this instance? Nova Scotia fishermen have had enough of this BS and finally said enough is enough and they certainly don’t give two h——to about some virtue signalling socialists in Yukon.

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Wilf Carter on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Here is the real problem Kate their are families who have passed down their lobster fishing licenses for generation going back to 1700 and this is what they depend on for their living after many generations.
Sandy Silver knows this very well same as Tracy McPhee and Ranj.
The problem is people lose their fishing license without any kind of support from Federal government. What do they do move to the Yukon to try to find work? It is a mess with the fishery in NS but NDP do not understand the real situation as it is. First Nation has the right to fish lobsters for personnel use and that has never changed.
FN's in NS has the right to buy a commercial lobster fishing license and catch lobster and sell them just like every other fishery.
Far as the RCMP go, they are losing staff and no one wants to sign to joint the RCMP because of the way Trudeau is treating them.
I am so disappointed in the NDP calling down our national police force who have served Canada well for over 150 years.
They have died protecting Canada like the officers in Moncton, NB and Alberta and all across Canada.

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Davis on Oct 26, 2020 at 3:29 pm

This is all fine and good but how about the government start addressing the issues right here at home? Every year more and more unsettled Yukon First Nations are declaring hunting bans on their traditional territories, bans that contradict Yukon Government's own hunting regulations. This is a very serious issue that YG needs to address, but instead they keep ignoring it and hope that it will somehow fix itself. This issue is not going away and every year we ignore it, it's going to get worse. I hope it doesn't come to what we're seeing happening in Nova Scotia right now but in order to avoid that YG and these unsettled First Nations are going to have to start talking soon!

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