Court grants temporary injunction to Sipekne’katik band to end interference with fishery

Click to play video: 'Indigenous fishers optimistic following granted interim injunction' Indigenous fishers optimistic following granted interim injunction
Indigenous fishers say an interim injunction granted by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia gives them an extra layer of protection, which they say is needed so they can pursue their treaty fishing rights in peace. Jesse Thomas reports. – Oct 22, 2020

The Sipekne’katik First Nation has been granted a temporary court injunction to end any form of interference with the band’s fishing activities in the south shore of Nova Scotia.

The band is calling for an order to prohibit blockading band members from accessing wharves in Saulnierville, N.S. and Weymouth or the lobster pound in New Edinburgh, N.S.

Read more: As Ottawa commits to protect treaty rights, Sipekne’katik chief says ‘actions speak louder than words’

Last week at the New Edinburgh facility, a crowd removed and damaged video cameras then ransacked the lobster pound and storage facility where the lobster catch was to be housed.

A van at the facility was also set on fire.

Later that night, the same thing occurred at a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., an Indigenous fisher told Global News.

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Mi’kmaw fisherman Jason Marr and others were forced to take cover inside the lobster pound as the building’s windows were smashed out and Marr’s vehicle was damaged, he said.

Click to play video: 'Massive fire destroys lobster pound in southern Nova Scotia' Massive fire destroys lobster pound in southern Nova Scotia
Massive fire destroys lobster pound in southern Nova Scotia – Oct 17, 2020

On Wednesday, the band sought court-ordered protection against what court documents cite as “a deliberate campaign of intimidation, violence and property destruction, perpetrated by non-Indigenous fishers and their supporters.”

Marr is one of the individuals who swore an oath that there are reasonable grounds to order an injunction.

The grounds listed include that the “campaign” has caused a risk of injury to the Sipekne’katik band members and significant economic loss.

Since mid-September, when the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its self-regulated moderate livelihood fishery, traps laid by Indigenous fishers have been repeatedly cut or damaged.

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This has resulted in a massive loss for the fishery that is now seeking a way to sell its catch.

Read more: 5 things to know about the dispute over Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishery

In addition, Wednesday’s court documents say the RCMP’s failure to stop this campaign continues to date and serves as another ground for an order.

The temporary court injunction order would prohibit threats and harassment of the public and Sipekne’katik members in those areas, as well as blocking traffic to the areas, and trespassing.

It would prohibit any interference with the band’s fishing activities at sea, and any action that may prevent the band from carrying out its contract business.

Read more: RCMP leader fails to address why Mounties appeared not to intervene in N.S. lobster fisheries violence

On Wednesday, the head of the RCMP failed to address complaints about the force’s response to violence against Indigenous lobster fisheries in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Brenda Lucki said police are “fully committed to keeping the peace,” but failed to explain why videos taken at multiple scenes appear to show RCMP officers standing by as the Mi’kmaq have faced violent and heated opposition from mostly non-Indigenous commercial fishers.

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Click to play video: 'Mi’kmaw chiefs demand DFO to stop seizing lobster traps' Mi’kmaw chiefs demand DFO to stop seizing lobster traps
Mi’kmaw chiefs demand DFO to stop seizing lobster traps – Oct 20, 2020

The injunction order ensures that RCMP can remove and arrest any person breaching orders of the injunction, the court documents said.

The order was granted by Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice James Chipman Wednesday afternoon.

According to the court, the temporary injunction expires Dec. 15, 2020, when another hearing will be held if the injunction is still required.

— With files from Alexander Quon

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