‘This is my only livelihood’: N.B. fishermen feel boat sinkings racially motivated

Click to play video: 'Fishing boats sunk in Neguac, N.B.' Fishing boats sunk in Neguac, N.B.
WATCH: Indigenous fishermen in Neguac, N.B. feel boat sinkings this past weekend were racially motivated. Callum Smith reports – Sep 17, 2018

A trio of fishermen in northern New Brunswick are looking for answers after their boats were sunk over the weekend.

The three boats, which were tied up at the Neguac wharf, are owned by Indigenous fishermen from the nearby Esgenoôpetitj First Nation.

The boats were docked at the Neguac wharf before the incident occurred. Callum Smith/Global News

“We’re in 2018 and the hatred and racism has no place in today’s world,” said Curtis Bartibogue, whose boat was targeted. “But it seems to be on the rise these past couple years.”

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RCMP believe the incident happened between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Saturday.

Buddy Dedam, another boat owner who has been working away on his vessel since the incident, says he expects to be paying more than $80,000 for repairs.

Buddy Dedam estimates repairs will cost him $80,000. Callum Smith/Global News

Police say when they arrived at the wharf, they saw two vessels partially submerged and one completely submerged. The three boats were eventually hauled out of the water and are being investigated on land, according to police.

“They ended up cutting our intake lines for the water intake for the cooling system,” said Bartibogue. “That’s why they were able to take on water so quickly.”

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The intake lines of the vessels, which cool the engines, were cut. Callum Smith/Global News

Despite calling it a targeted incident, police say there’s nothing to indicate racism was the motive as of now.

“We do not suspect that racism would be a factor right now in the investigation,” said RCMP Sgt. Marc Beaupre. “But for some reason, the three boats were specifically targeting Esgenoôpetitj (First Nation).”

Meanwhile, Bartibogue says this isn’t the first time he’s been victimized on the water before, as items have been stolen from his boat, property has been damaged, and some of his lines and traps have been cut in the past.

READ: This needs to stop’: Indigenous fisherman speaks out after boat torched in N.S.

He’s not sure why the incident happened, but believes the suspect or suspects could have been after the Indigenous fishers as the result of a food fishery that took place last week.

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“This is my only livelihood,” said Bartibogue. “It’s my only chance to provide for my family, and it really angers me.”

Police are asking anyone with any information about the incident to come forward.

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