Ottawa may spend $500M to expand native fishery, reserves

Canadian Press
National Post
Wednesday, January 31, 2001

HALIFAX. The departments of Indian and Northern Affairs and Fisheries and Oceans have earmarked $500-million to help natives in the fishery and expand First Nation reserves throughout Atlantic Canada, sources confirmed yesterday.

The fund, to be spread out over three years, is expected to be announced within two weeks, said the source, adding it has been approved by an ad hoc Cabinet committee and was to go to Cabinet for discussion this week.

Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, would not confirm the fund, but said he plans to make an announcement soon on the native fishery.

“Sometime next week, we hope we can provide a more expansive direction on where we’re going,” Mr. Dhaliwal said yesterday in Ottawa after the Throne Speech. “But right now would be premature.”

Matthew Coon Come, national Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said he welcomes the funding. “I think it’s an opportunity to … alleviate and avoid the situation of Burnt Church and work toward a solution,” he said, referring to the violence at the New Brunswick reserve last year over native fishing.

“I hope I’ll be able to go and talk about the protection, the management of those resources, look at First Nations’ own management plans and look at how we can share in the wealth of that resource and be able to stimulate our own economies.”

The strategy deals with getting more natives into the fishery by purchasing licences and paying for training, said one source.

Some of the money will used to buy land to expand aboriginal reserves, the source said, and some will also be used at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for salaries and other expenses related to the implementation of the Supreme Court’s Marshall decision, allowing Mi’kmaq and Maliseet bands the right to earn a moderate living from hunting and fishing, under DFO regulation.

Ottawa is trying to come up with a native fishery strategy before the spring lobster seasons opens.