Native chief calls for aboriginal unity on fishing deals

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Thursday, Apri1 26, 2001

HALIFAX. A Nova Scotia native chief said Thursday that First Nations Atlantic Canadians need to achieve unity before they sign any new deals on fishing rights with the federal government. 

Aboriginal chiefs are meeting in Halifax to discuss a revised clause in their centuries-old fishing treaty. The federal government is offering several concessions on wording meant to clear the way for a new agreement on native fishing in Atlantic Canada. 

Indian Brook Chief Reg Maloney, who heads a reserve near Shubenacadie, N.S., said Thursday that he hopes the region’s 34 native bands would refrain from signing deals that he believes will eat away at aboriginal treaty rights. 

But Maloney said he understands that the lure of fishing resources and money could be too hard to resist for some bands, and another native leader said that only five of the 34 bands aren’t planning to sign the new deal.

Under the new arrangement, each band will determine the details of the deals, which are reported to be valued at about $500 million and to include money for training and gear. 

Bands that don’t sign will still have access to last year’s interim fishing deals, but won’t be eligible for the perks of equipment, training and mentoring that come with the new deal. 

Ottawa also hopes that the new deals could help avoid the kind of violence that plagued last year’s native fisheries in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.