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Sipekne’katik First Nation re-elects Chief Mike Sack for 3rd term

Click to play video 'N.S. Assembly of Chiefs co-chair steps down' N.S. Assembly of Chiefs co-chair steps down
WATCH (Oct. 28): Chief Terry Paul, co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs, has announced he is stepping down. As Graeme Benjamin reports, the announcement was made Wednesday afternoon in the days that followed negotiations breaking down between DFO and the assembly – Oct 28, 2020

Tuesday night the Sipekne’katik First Nation re-elected Mike Sack as chief for his third term by a landslide.

Out of 982 voters in total, 72 per cent voted for Sack to return as chief for the next two years.

“It has always been the greatest honour of my life to represent the people of my community however, today perhaps more than ever, as we have seen their resilience and strength emerge on the world’s stage in recent weeks,” Sack said in a Tuesday night release.

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What’s behind the tensions between the Mi’kmaq and commercial fisheries? – Oct 22, 2020

Sack defeated candidates Heather Knockwood and Kim Paul for the position.

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Alongside Sack, 12 councilors were elected on Tuesday with 36 candidates running.

Here’s a complete list of the newly elected council:

  • Lena Knockwood
  • Doreen Knockwood
  • Gerry Augustine
  • Keith Julian
  • Gavin Michael
  • Cheryl Gehue
  • Brandon Maloney
  • Mary Ellen Syliboy
  • Rufus Copage
  • Michelle Glasgow
  • Eldon Wayne Paul
  • Timothy Nevin

Prior to being elected chief, Sack sat on council for 10 years, said the release.

This year, Sack gained national prominence after he officially opened a moderate livelihood fishery for his community on Sept. 17 in Saulnierville, N.S.

Mi’kmaq fishers and Sack faced backlash from a mob of commercial fishermen that argued the fishery was operating illegally outside of the regular fishing season. Sack even took a punch during a stand-off with non-Indigenous fishermen and saw a lobster pound burned to the ground last month.

Read more: ‘Terrorizing our people’: N.S. Mi’kmaw fishers have property vandalized, lobsters destroyed

Mi’kmaq have maintained the fishery is permitted by the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Marshall decision, based on treaties signed by the British Crown in the early 1760s.

On Tuesday, Sack said he is renewing his call for the advancement of the Sipekne’katik fishery.

“Our people are committed to advancing our Treaty right to a moderate livelihood and we are very close to finalizing our Rights Implementation Fishery Management plan as we move from phase one to phase two,” he said in the release.

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His re-election came just days after he made the decision to pull Sipkene’katik commercial fishery licenses in LFA33 and LFA34.

Read more: Sipekne’katik Chief says band will not fish in upcoming lobster season due to safety concerns

“It is critical that the Federal and Provincial governments provide an exemption for our people to sell lobster under section 35, the right to self determination,” Sack said in the Tuesday release.

“Our capacity to provide for ourselves and our community overall has been completely obstructed first by the commercial fishery and now by the Federal and Provincial government’s inaction in addressing the DFO only approved license to sell.”

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Another First Nation developing plans for moderate livelihood fishery – Oct 26, 2020

The results of Tuesday’s election were announced by the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, with Electoral Officer Brenda Tracy overseeing the ballot count.

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Voter turnout was nearly 50 per cent, with around 2000 eligible voters in Sipekne’katik.

 

— With files from The Canadian Press.