Deal called ‘breakthrough’ 

Friday, June 7, 2001

OTTAWA. Federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal is hailing his department’s first interim fishing deal in New Brunswick as a “breakthrough” for peace on the water in the province. 

Red Bank Indian Band has inked a three-year deal with Ottawa that includes money for everything from fishing licences to gear and training. 

“I think every time we sign an agreement it’s a breakthrough,” Mr. Dhaliwal said in confirming the agreement during an interview Wednesday. 

“I think this will be a model in terms of how to create real opportunities for some of our aboriginal communities,” he added. “It’s a very good sign.” 

Mr. Dhaliwal said he did not have the specifics of the deal, but he said it is part of the “hundreds of millions of dollars” Ottawa will spend trying to sign new deals with the 34 native bands in Atlantic Canada and Quebec affected by the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Marshall decision. That ruling gave Mi’kmaq and Maliseet bands the right to earn a moderate livelihood from year-round fishing, hunting and gathering. 

Red Bank is the fifth band – after two in Quebec and two in Nova Scotia – to sign an interim deal, and Mr. Dhaliwal said his federal negotiator James MacKenzie is in discussions with “many more” bands. 

He said, however, that it’s “difficult to predict” if a deal can be reached with Burnt Church First Nation, where some of the most violent clashes have occurred between native fishermen and fishery officials.