Burnt Church lobster fishery raids continue

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Wednesday, September 27, 2000

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. - Federal fisheries officers plucked more native lobster traps out of the waters off Burnt Church on Wednesday morning.

Four boats went out to confiscate lobster traps. There were no signs of Mi'kmaq fishers.

In a raid on Tuesday, RCMP and coast guard helicopters swept overhead and watched high-speed chases involving fisheries and native boats.

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Matthew Coon Come, has sent former chief Ovide Mercredi to Burnt Church on a mission to prevent warriors there from getting into a violent conflict.

"It's very important for the people in Burnt Church to use restraint and nonviolence, 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 Ü a possibility the warriors themselves are preparing for as they defend their traps.


"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."

Aboriginal fishermen say they're defending their right to fish when and how they choose, something they say is their right by treaty, affirmed last year by the Supreme Court in its Marshall decision.

The federal government has maintained it has the power to regulate all fisheries.

Non-native commercial fishermen insist there be one set of rules for everyone.