Burnt Church may stop fishing within days

Canadian Broadcasting System
Tuesday, September 26, 2000

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. - There could be an end in sight to the native fishing dispute at Burnt Church.

 

"It's very important for the people in Burnt Church to use restraint and non-violence, or the government will win."
Native fishermen say they may haul in their traps Sunday, one week earlier than planned. Band member Lloyd Augustine says recent raids by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are taking their toll. More than 1,300 lobster traps have been seized over the past few days by DFO officers.

Meanwhile, the national leader of Canada's natives is sending his highest-profile adviser to Burnt Church with a specific mission in mind - don't let the warriors there get into a violent conflict.

Matthew Coon Come has asked Ovide Mercredi, a former national chief, to try an ease the tensions that are running high on the shores of Miramichi Bay. There have been several reports of gunfire in the area, and Mercredi hopes he can contain things.

Native leaders concerned about confrontations

"It's very important for the people in Burnt Church to use restraint and non-violence, or the government will win," said Mercredi.

The AFN is worried Ottawa is trying to provoke a violent conflict with the warriors at Burnt Church, a possibility the warriors themselves are preparing for as they defend their traps. Monday, they led the charge against federal fisheries officers who made a daring dash to seize the last of the native lobster traps set close to the reserve.

"I know myself, along with the others, are willing to put our lives on the line," said James Ward. "We've all talked about it. We've actually had traditional ceremonies concerning it."

One man charged in shooting

Charges have been laid against a 41-year-old non-native man from nearby Neguac in connection to an incident on Saturday in which shots were fired from a boat.

Roger Leblanc was arrested along with two other men. RCMP say he faces one count of careless use of a firearm and one count of possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose.

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