Ottawa moves to end native fishing fight

The Toronto Star
Friday, February 9, 2001

OTTAWA – The federal government will today announce new plans to try to stave off more violence over native rights in Atlantic Canada. 

The strategy will include the appointment of two negotiators who will try to reach agreements over rights on natural resources such as fish and wildlife. The government won’t announce a price tag today, but sources say it’s expected the strategy will cost $500 million over three years. A Supreme Court decision two years ago sparked violent clashes across the Maritimes as natives jumped into the lucrative lobster fishery. More than 75 Mi’kmaq currently face charges in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick stemming from the simmering dispute. Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal said yesterday the negotiators will operate on “two parallel tracks” – one focused on the fishery, the other on treaty and other aboriginal rights. The appointment of a negotiator for the Indian affairs department marks the first time the government has tried to negotiate on issues beyond fishing. The Supreme Court ruled native people could earn a “moderate livelihood” from fishing and natural resources. Negotiators will try to sort out the contentious issue of how much aboriginal people would be able to earn. The government has already spent $160 million to provide training, equipment and licences to native bands. “What we’re doing is really unprecedented in terms of the resources we’re providing for the first time to provide jobs and livelihood for aboriginal communities,” said Dhaliwal.