As more Mounties move in to keep the peace in southwest N.S., Chief rejects call to pause fishery
SAULNERVILLE, N.S. -- Tuesday was a calm day in Saulnerville, N.S., but only a few Indigenous fishers headed out on the water.
"It was a matter of supplies," said Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack. "You know, we can't get traps and they're giving everyone a hard time that wants to deal with us, so we got a bunch coming and our fishery will pick back up."
On land, there was a larger police presence with RCMP officers from across Atlantic Canada now in Nova Scotia.
Near the Saulnerville wharf, officers stopped each vehicle to talk to the occupants, before they passed through.
RCMP were also on hand at the wharf in Meteghan, where many commercial fishers have their boats, and near a lobster pound in New Edinburgh, where a van was set on fire last week -- all in place to help keep the peace.
"We've had officers come in from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island specifically trained in crowd control and de-escalation," said Sgt. Andrew Joyce of the Nova Scotia RCMP.
Sterling Belliveau, the province's former fisheries minister and a retired lobster fisherman, says the unrest and chaos in the province is the fault of Bernadette Jordan, the minister of fisheries and oceans.
"I lay all the blame at her feet," Belliveau said. "She has created this two-tier system, segregation, of an industry that is actually having a disagreement over a court decision, which took place 21 years ago."
Belliveau is suggesting a one-year pause on the Mi'kmaw fishery outside of the current commercial season.
That's an idea Sack dismissed.
"We're not going to stop, because we have a right to do so," Sack said. "So, I say shut the commercial down, cool the tensions, let them feel it in the pocket and we'll see you next year."
Sack said he would consider meeting with some members of the commercial fishing industry to ease the waters.
"We're putting a call out to the industry, to anyone that wants to have a respectful dialogue, we're open to that at any time," he said.
Sack says he has been speaking with Bernadette Jordan and planned to share an update with his community Tuesday evening.
He also scheduled a meeting late Tuesday afternoon with Indigenous fishers, and while he wouldn't disclose what they talked about, he did say he planned to discuss his recent conversations with Bernadette Jordan, and that he expects to issue a public update Wednesday.