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Charges laid in St. Marys Bay fishery confrontations

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia RCMP have laid several charges in connection with the violence in southern Nova Scotia that escalated after the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched a moderate livelihood fishery.

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

Read more: Lawyer says First Nation to file lawsuits against N.S. government, commercial fishers

On Monday, police released that two individuals are facing charges regarding unsafe water activity in St. Marys Bay near Saulnierville, N.S.

One of the individuals was 34-year-old Sipekne’katik band councillor Brandon Maloney. Maloney was charged with unsafe operation of a vessel in connection to a Sept. 20 incident.

In a Facebook video, Maloney said he believes the charge came from pressure on police from non-Indigenous fishermen.

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“It ain’t no secret, that’s the day we tried to get the traps back off a few commercial vessels,” Maloney said in the video.

He said he’ll gladly go to court and he does not regret standing up for his people.

“Every single thing is worth it to me, I wouldn’t change a single thing,” Maloney said.

Click to play video 'DFO pulls about 500 lobster traps from St. Mary’s Bay' DFO pulls about 500 lobster traps from St. Mary’s Bay
DFO pulls about 500 lobster traps from St. Mary’s Bay – Nov 26, 2020

According to police, 26-year-old Shaquest India Miller from Yarmouth County was also charged with unsafe operation of a vessel for an Oct. 12 incident that occurred in St. Marys Bay. No further details were available on Miller’s charge.

Charge for breaking Sipekne’katik injunction

On Monday, RCMP said a Digby man has been charged with disobeying an order of the court, in relation to activity on the water on Oct. 23 in Saulnierville.

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In October, the Sipekne’katik First Nation was granted a temporary court injunction by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge to end any form of interference with the band’s fishing activities in the south shore of Nova Scotia.

This came a week after an incident in New Edinburgh, where a crowd removed and damaged video cameras then ransacked the lobster pound and storage facility where Indigenous lobster catch was to be stored. A van at the facility was also set on fire.

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

Later that night, the same thing occurred at a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., an Indigenous fisher told Global News. Mi’kmaw fisherman Jason Marr and others were forced to take cover inside the lobster pound as the building’s windows were smashed out.

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.”

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

RCMP said on Monday that 42-year-old Dale Richard Wagner of Digby County is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 15, 2021 to face the charge of disobeying the court-ordered injunction.

Maloney and Miller will also appear in Digby court on Feb. 15, police said.