RCMP charge man in connection with shots fired at a boat near Pictou Landing

A sign welcomes visitors to Pictou Landing First Nation. Alexa MacLean/Global News

Nova Scotia RCMP say one man is facing charges in connection with a gun being fired at a fishing boat near Pictou Landing First Nation last year.

Police responded to reports of shots being fired in the Northumberland Straight near Pictou Landing First Nation on Dec. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

A man in a small boat told police he had been observing the crew of a fishing vessel removing lobster traps from the water.

Read more: N.S. RCMP arrest 4 in connection with shots fired at Pictou Landing fisherman

Then man then approached the fishing vessel in his boat. But as he approached, the fishing vessel accelerated towards him and shots were fired from the vessel.

The man was not injured in the incident and was able to safely return to port, where police were contacted and they began an investigation.

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In a Facebook post made that day, Pictou Landing First Nation Chief Andrea Paul said the man in the small boat was an Indigenous fisher who had gone to confirm whether men were removing lobster traps.

Click to play video: 'RCMP release surveillance video of persons of interest connected to fisheries fire' RCMP release surveillance video of persons of interest connected to fisheries fire
RCMP release surveillance video of persons of interest connected to fisheries fire – Oct 30, 2020

One man would turn himself in to police later that evening, with three other men being arrested the next day.

On Friday, police announced that Cameron Harold Fleury, 39, of Caribou, N.S., is facing three charges:

  • One count of assault with a weapon
  • One count of dangerous operation of a boat
  • One count of mischief

Fleury is scheduled to appear virtually in Pictou Provincial Court on March 15 at 9:30 a.m.

Police say their investigation is ongoing.

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Violent opposition to moderate livelihood fisheries

The shots were one in a series of violent responses to Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia through the end of 2020.

Fishing lines have been slashed or damaged and buildings have been ransacked by crowds as large as 200 people as commercial fishermen, many of whom are not Indigenous, responded to the launch of moderate livelihood fisheries by First Nations in the province.

The charges announced on Friday mean that at least 31 people have been charged in relation to the opening of the moderate livelihood fisheries and the violent response to them.

Read more: N.S. RCMP lay charges against 23 in ransacking of Middle West Pubnico lobster pound

The Sipekne’katik First Nation was the first to launch a fishery in mid-September in a bid to exercise a treaty right that all Indigenous nations in Eastern Canada have, which is to fish or hunt for a “moderate livelihood.”

It was a right further recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Marshall decision.

Although the term “moderate livelihood” was not formally defined by the court, a subsequent decision ruled that the government has the authority to impose some regulations for the purposes of conservation, subject to nation-to-nation consultations.

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But in the 21 years since the Marshall decision was handed down, those negotiations have never occurred and the Sipekne’katik First Nation has argued that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ failure means their fishery is permissible.

The Sipekne’katik have since been joined by the Pictou Landing First Nation and the Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton.

Other bands, such as the Bear River and Membertou First Nations, have declared intentions to launch their own moderate livelihood fisheries.

—With files from The Canadian Press

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