Natives return to sea

Canadian Press
Friday, October 8, 1999

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. It appears the truce in the Maritime lobster war will be short-lived.

Native fishermen at the Burnt Church reserve turned their backs yesterday on a moratorium suggested Wednesday by the Atlantic chiefs.

They said they'll head out onto the cold waters of Miramichi Bay as soon as they get 1,000 new lobster traps to replace those destroyed last weekend by angry non-native fishermen.

The replacement traps are expected as early as today. The native fishermen also said they'll wait for the weather to improve.


"I know this is going to provoke the white people, I know it's going to piss them off," said native fisherman Clarence Dedam of Burnt Church.

"We waited more than 200 years to fish and we're going to fish."

The mood was defiant and euphoric as band members poured out of a private meeting on the reserve with Chief Wilbur Dedam, who presented the moratorium proposal.

Late Wednesday, the Atlantic chiefs agreed to ask native fishermen to observe a 30-day voluntary shutdown of the Maritime lobster fishery, which has been rocked by a Supreme Court ruling granting Mi'kmaq and Maliseet treaty rights to year-round unlicensed hunting and fishing. They also asked the feds to impose the same ban on commercial fishermen.